Bacevich on Brooks


"A military composed of warrior-professionals suits the agenda of hawkish conservatives at least as well as hawkish liberals. For those who dream of liberating the oppressed abroad and reversing the corrupting tide of liberalism at home here is an instrument ideally suited to making those dreams come true. Not persuaded? Consider the views of the noted conservative commentator and New York Times columnist David Brooks."  Bacevich


Colonel Bacevich has a profound and steady view of people like Brooks.  pl

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37 Responses to Bacevich on Brooks

  1. jr786 says:

    “The U.S. troops who burned Korans, defiled Taliban corpses, and gunned down innocent civilians in shooting sprees made it difficult for Afghans to appreciate the Jane Addams side of the American soldier. As for John Wayne, Hollywood had thought better than to film him urinating on dead enemy fighters.”
    As horribly right as that is, the Jane Addams reference made me laugh out loud. How stupid, how criminal, the Brookses of this world.

  2. JohnH says:

    Bacevich’s piece is an eloquent take down of those who never learn from their mistakes and are driven to repeat them. Sad thing is that their publishers never seem to notice.

  3. walrus says:

    The problems of the Brookses of this world stem in my opinion from the myths we like to believe about ourselves. If we fail to appreciate their falsity we can fall into error like David Brooks.
    Perhaps the most important part of this appreciation is the necessity, as the late novelist W.G. Sebald pointed out, to understand our respective national fears.
    The Australian national fear is a national inferiority complex that, for example, still sees Australian artists need to validate themselves in London and New York before other Australians will take them seriously and, on a more serious note, still sees us join in fighting geographically remote wars that have nothing to do with us.
    What is the American national fear that Brooks is trying to assuage? That America is not “the indispensable nation”? I wouldn’t know.

  4. kao_hsien_chih says:

    There is something in history that the attitude of international liberationists of both right and left that always reminded me of: the Japanese imperialists. Japanese imperialists were always a schizophrenic lot: on the one hand, they were quite sincere in wanting to “liberate” and “uplift” other Asian peoples; on the other hand, they were eager to exploit, often brutally, neighboring Asian lands and populations. Often, these seemingly incompatible fantasies merged into something fantastical: that other Asians, out of gratitude for their “liberation” and “uplifting” at the hands of the Japanese, would willingly offer themselves to be exploited. When this did not take place, Japanese imperialists became vengefully cruel at the “ungrateful” peoples of Asia. Too many narratives about “imperialism” focuses on the latter. But, when messianism merges with mammonism, the result is truly ugly.

  5. Jane Addams won a Nobel Prize and not sure how many won one while in Uniform of Armed Forces of the USA.
    Brooks like many pundits is relatively glib and hoping that no one really keeps track of his utterings over any length of time. Unfortunately of course that is exactly what Dr. Bachevich, PhD does.
    It does make one wonder what makes the last of the Thinkers senior field grades while the Flag Ranks and Pundits seem lobotomized.
    CP Snow wrote of the two cultures, specifically science and those who govern. Never the twain shall meet in his opinion. But those who lead military efforts are not really involved in governing but something else, perhaps closer to organizing violence against enemies. Perhaps Dr. Bachevich is one of our more expert in trying to make each of those cultures, the military and the governors, understand better the other.

  6. Charles I says:

    Ahhh the Canadian fear!

  7. Tigershark says:

    Never has a truer entrance been penned: “Brooks’s proclamation of victory turned out to be a case of premature journalistic ejaculation.”

  8. walter says:

    Brooks never cared about the Iraqi people, providing them with democracy, saving them from a tyrant. All any of the Neocons care about is Israel. The corporatists like Cheney, Bush just care about defense contracts and oil contracts. None of them ever gave a shit about democracy or peace or love or anything good for the Iraqi people.

  9. optimax says:

    Bacevich being interviewed on Book-TV, C-Span, was quite clear on what he sees as America’s fear, “Since WWII, we can’t win a war.”

  10. jonst says:

    I think Zbig B hit the mark with this comment:
    ” But it [America] is also a country with an extremely simplistic understanding of world affairs, and with still a high confidence in America’s capacity to prevail, by force if necessary.:
    – See more at:
    Aided by attention defect disorder on a mass scale….and very little memory of even recent history.

  11. confusedponderer says:

    I see it as a call for accountability.
    The really remarkable thing about the Brookses of the world is that they can hardly remember what they said yesterday, let alone truly ancient history, like what they said a year back.
    While consistency is not a value in itself, it is an indicator.
    Many people change their mind with new information, that’s only prudent. Then there are those who are consistently wrong. Why listen to such people? And yet, in DC they persist as ‘experts’.
    Brooke is one of those people. Bacewich wonderfully takes him to task over that.
    Tom Friedman is another great example for somebody who still hasn’t been run out of town, despite his contribution to perpetuating the Iraq war with his ‘Friedman Unit’.
    But that’s elites for you.
    Unless Brooks is caught cheating on his taxes, shagging an intern or a lamp post he is unlikely to be dropped just for trivial things like being persistently wrong.
    Being a pundit is probably the only job where you can make a living that way. Brooks is probably just too well networked to be held accountable.
    Jon Stewart had it about right when he reported the Idiot Parade (Bremer et al) back in town, telling everybody why bombing Syria is a splendid idea. He was talking about the ‘experts who have been wrong about everything’ on Iraq, have plunged the US into that war, have not been held accountable for screwing up, and Stewart then kindly asked them to shut the fuck up already.
    If only they would.

  12. Laura Wilson says:

    Bacevich is a true historian and a gentleman. We are fortunate every tie he is given a platform.

  13. turcopolier says:

    In re Brooks – This fellow told the world on the Newshour that he had gone through old transcripts of their show and discovered that I had told them all repeatedly that there would be a massive insurgency in Iraq if we occupied the country, This statement by him was a couple of years into the disaster. Right after this statement he stopped talking to me. Sob! pl

  14. Charles I says:

    You may sob upon rejection – the 1st time you booted me here, oh, the trauma! – but as kao_hsien_chih observes these types don’t get over it, they get even more even.

  15. Medicine Man says:

    Our own analog of the Australian fear plus the fear that we’ll be culturally assimilated by our southern neighbor.

  16. Medicine Man says:

    I read that article on Salon yesterday and have to say it was quite pleasant to watch Col. Bacevich metaphorically drive a lance into Brook’s chest. The only thing that ruins the experience is the sure knowledge that Brook’s career will remain impervious to damage.

  17. What proof exists that ethnic and religious insurgencies was not the end game of USA policy in MENA all along?
    After all were not the British during days of Empire skilled at divide and keep conquered?
    Would Israel exist if the Arabs were united in their policies?

  18. Charles says:

    Well said!

  19. turcopolier says:

    Charles I
    What can I say? I am a heartless bastard. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    You mean you think you are culturally different? pl

  21. walrus says:

    Col. Lang, being right is a terrible crime in the eyes of the current elite.

  22. Medicine Man says:

    Not really. The fear is real amongst my countrymen though.

  23. Publius Valerius says:

    Bacevich was on Colbert last night. Here’s a link to the interview:

  24. Charles I says:

    ok I’ll bite.
    I do, we’re young, no war of independence, strong federal government, weaker provinces, mostly missed slavery and the racial divide n/w/s the whole nation of two solitudes thing, no civil war, no global dominance tho we used to have the 4th largest navy in the world!, not nearly so crazy for God and Israel and Ignorance and Abstinence – we don’t even have an abortion law – worse yet, you’re exceptional world savers, we’re complete slackers, & no one surfs the web or smokes as much dope per capita as a Canadian.
    We live beside you and admire you. We are not antipathetic to national health care & gun control by birth, experience and heritage We are not the same culturally. Vive le difference. How do I say that in Spanish?

  25. turcopolier says:

    Charles I, MM et al
    I know you are culturally different. I know that every time I cross the border. That’s a foreign country up there, somewhere. But, we love you, those of us who know you are there. I suppose I must since my ancestors founded what became your country. pl

  26. nick b says:

    Over time, I have come to view Brooks as the NYT’s useful idiot. Think about it. He’s the token editorial ‘conservative’ at a liberal leaning newspaper. Isn’t it his job to be the foil for the other marquis players on the op-ed page? In essence he’s supposed to be wrong all the time. His job is to put lip stick on the pig. I’m not sure he really believes most of what he says. His m.o. is to attempt to put a pseudo intellectual spin on what are often anti-intellectual policies. So he trots out Burke or Niebuhr, and misinterprets them, to create a veneer of moral reasoning and intellect. But when he’s done, and wrong, I think he sees it like he’s a pitcher who just had a bad game, but there’s another game tomorrow, so no big deal.
    Who is Brooks’ constituency anyway? I doubt it is the readership of the NYT, nor the viewership of PBS. He can’t go full ‘Hannity’ in either of those venues, so he probably doesn’t speak for most of the modern conservative movement either. Who does he speak for? I had to chuckle at some of the comments further down the page speaking of Brooks addressing ‘national fears’. Does Brooks represent enough of a constituency that he can voice the ‘national’ anything? I’m just not sure who, if anyone, Brooks’ opinions represent.

  27. Medicine Man says:

    Col.: For what it is worth, the feeling is mutual; though I can’t say we tend to forget where the US is.

  28. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Se dice ¨viva la diferencia¨ en español….

  29. confusedponderer says:

    Well, obviously it is all your fault. Clearly, if you had not said all that, it would not have happened (which is why, in dire times especially, the US intelligence services really need more optimistic people).
    You may have been right with all your doom- and gloomsaying, but the sad fact is that probably you’re just a witch. Brooks is likely afraid of you.
    There you are.

  30. Charles I says:

    Bullshit, I KNOW you are not that! Let’s agree on hard-hearted empath.

  31. Charles I says:

    Well no wonder America is such a great country!

  32. Larry Kart says:

    Brooks is not the Times’ only conservative (or “conservative”) op-ed columnist; there’s also Ross Douhat.
    As for what Brooks’ game is, if that’s the way to put it, for years I’ve regarded him as a fairly specific sort of disinformation agent — his role being to address one segment of American Liberalism in (by and large) a more or less “reasonable” tone of voice such that various neo-con or Right Wing positions (not always the same thing, I know) will begin to seem relatively housebroken, something to be given credence to, be given into or even outright supported if push comes to shove, which would be less the case (for that arguably rather pathetic segment of American Liberalism) if those views were only being enunciated by the likes of, say, Eric Cantor or anyone else who is essentially addressing the so-called “base.”
    I say “disinformation agent” because I don’t think that Brooks necessarily believes anything he says; rather, his positions and, above all, his typically “reasonable”/”thoughtful” tone voice are essentially acts of manipulation aimed at that aforementioned segment of American Liberalism. Who does Brooks work for? I’m not sure it’s as cut-and-dried as all that, though it might be. My guess, though, is that he thinks of himself as a would-be Grey Eminence who will be suitably rewarded for all his hard work once all enough of what he was worked like a mole to bring about has finally come to pass.

  33. Fred says:

    “… we’re young, no war of independence, strong federal government, weaker provinces, mostly missed slavery and the racial divide…”
    I believe the members of the “First Nations” would still like their lands back.

  34. CK says:

    How about this: Brooks is a paid agent of existential evil. An American lord Haw-Haw manque with a foreign subsidy to spew evil against truth, beauty, honour, and intelligence.
    A real life exemplar of Ayn Rand’s Mort Liddy character; not brave enough to be a Bertram Scudder.

  35. Larry Kart says:

    “A paid agent of existential evil” — I like that; as Ira Gershwin once wrote, “Nice work if you can get it.” Within that framework, though, I’m not sure that a fellow like Brooks needs to be literally paid by a foreign entity. if I’m right about him, his Times salary plus his own titillatingly sub rosa sense of mission is fuel and comfort enough. I mean, the guy thinks he’s important and is making a difference in the world of public affairs — what could be more intoxicating? And, sad to say, he is making a fairly insidious difference there.

  36. elkern says:

    Brooks deserves a free tour of Iraq. The duration of the tour would be one Friedman unit.

  37. Charles I says:

    Thanks I stand corrected, though I said heavy on the “mostly”. Its easier for Canadians to blithely ignore their First Nations victims, as I just did, – less’n you need to get to the reserve to stock up on butts – than it is for Americans to ignore the Race ?, the Black vote, scowling youth in hoodies,etc. I thoughtlessly meant no white colonial war of independence tho the current Canadian govt certainly touts the War of 1812 as one, Indian allies and all.
    Just drove through the Watha Reserve of the Gibson Band of the Mohawk Nation on my way down to the city today. Nice people, friends of mine for 40 years, with good food, cheap gas, cheap butts. Their Creator is much more like mine than my Christian heritage claims, which is partly why I live right next to it. No doubt partly why I think I failed to advert to them or their separateness from me, we live together in God’s Country somebody else called it.
    Then I had the good fortune to leave the highway and miss hours of closure due to a truck fire.
    Great day to be grateful. Thanks for pointing out my utter mindlessness.

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