May 3, 2014

David Brooks once again puts his stunning lack of self-awareness on display, this time for the viewers over at PBS. At least he managed to make it through the interview without bringing up President Obama's "manhood" again.

Driftglass took Bobo apart for this before I had a chance to get after him for his appearance on this Friday's Newshour, so I'll just let him take it from here: Strategic Forgettery: David Brooks Weekend Edition

First, a short course on the meaning of Strategic Forgettery from me back in 2011: [...]

And now, America's most famous unreconstructed Neoconservative, Mr. David Brook, from May 2, 2014 on a national teevee show, laying down the same double helping of bullshit -- Strategic Forgettery and Both Siderism -- which he had already shared with millions of Americans via the many, large platforms our mainstream media keeps giving him [...]

Because in the quotidian thoughts of Bush-cheerleading, Iraq War chickenhawks like David Brooks, the entire Bush Administration and the bloody shambles they made out of everything they touched has simply ceased to exist.

To his credit, Mark Shields actually pushed back a little on Mr. Brooks grotesquely puerile armchair generalship, albeit in that icky, genteel, PBS-manner in a situation which called for, at the bare minimum, a sharp elbow to the throat. Read on...

No matter though. PBS and our corporate media will continue propping him up as some kind of expert on foreign policy and treating their viewers to segments like this one every Friday.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the other things the Democrats are worried about, you have to believe right now, is the administration, the president’s standing on foreign policy.

David, the president comes back from his trip to Asia greeted by yet another poll showing a lot of disapproval of his handling of the economy overall and other issues, but foreign policy, and criticism from everywhere. We were going to show the cover of the latest issue of “The Economist” magazine. “What Would America Fight For?”

The questions are coming from the right. They’re also coming from the left. Is this kind of criticism deserved on the part…

DAVID BROOKS: I think halfway.

I do think there’s a fraying of the international order. We have an order that the nations are basically sacred. National borders, you don’t invade them. We have an order that there’s free trade, free movement of people. There are sort of procedures that you organize international affairs about. And we have sort of taken that for granted in the post-war world and post-Cold War world.

And I do think it’s fragmenting. And when it’s fragmenting, some of the wolves out there are grabbing. And so Putin is grabbing Ukraine, grabbing Crimea. The Chinese are much more aggressive in the maritime waters. Iran is much more hegemonic in the Middle East.

And so you’re beginning to see the rise of regional powers. And we have not seen that. And the rise of regional powers would just be a disaster for us long-term. And so reestablishing and reasserting that international order is the job of the United States.

And has been Obama derelict about that? I would say, in some ways, he’s been non-effective. He let the red lines cross in Syria. He hasn’t imposed serious sanctions on Putin. But it’s a much broader problem. The Republicans have definitely not helped by refusing to ratify any treaty, including some of the IMF stuff. They have let the fabric go.

And then the American public wants to withdraw, wants to pull inside. So, the U.S. is playing a less assertive role. And that fabric of procedures is fraying. And that’s really bad.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And the president himself, Mark, held a news conference overseas in the last few days and talked about the criticism and said, what do they want me to do? You know, we have been in these wars and are they saying, we should do more? And they say no. Well, what should we do?


You saw the president’s traditional and classic cool pierced. He was upset, I think, and I think with some legitimacy, Judy. The fact is that we’re operating in a reality of the last decade of this country, in the sense that the majority of Americans believing that we were deceived and misled into war in Iraq, that whatever one calls our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, they will not be seen as successes.

And they are not viewed that way, and, at the same time, an American people who were essentially spared any involvement in that war, any of those wars, who have just really sort of soured on American involvement in the world.

I give the president credit, quite frankly, because he’s dealing in — not only in this situation, but the sanctions that David talks about are being opposed openly by many American companies right now, I mean, caterpillar and at others. Boeing is terrified — they have got 100 plane contracts — that Airbus could move in into Russia and take that, if, in fact, you didn’t have a coalition with all the European countries moving at the same time.

And I think that’s the only way sanctions are going to make a difference. I would say David’s portrayal of the world is a little dark. I think Putin is the real outlaw. I mean, there’s no question the Chinese on the islands and the Middle East is sui generis.

But as far as the rest of the world order, the 195 nations, Putin is sort of, I think, the real outlier.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, I guess I disagree with that.

I think some of the failure of the Japan trade deal, that’s part of a fraying. Some of the restrictions on the movement of people — we have sort of got a problem though of a death by 1,000 cuts, that there’s no individual case where we should get really exercised. Like, we’re not going to commit troops to Ukraine. We’re not going to do anything crazy about Iran.

We’re probably not going to declare any sort of moral war on China. So it’s all these discrete problems, none of which individually merits this gigantic response, but collectively they can really do some damage. And so that’s sort of the problem we’re in.

I agree with Mark about the hangover from Iraq and Afghanistan. But I think Obama is going to do this, give some speeches where he says, OK, that’s not my foreign policy, but I am going to have an assertive foreign policy.

MARK SHIELDS: And I would say, if there’s been a failure of the president, who is just a great public speaker, it’s been to spell out what America’s mission is and what our interests are.

But I really do think, Judy, that the reality is there is not the will to go to war in this country right now. And those people who talk about it are doing so recklessly.


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