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Brooks: We Have To Remind Ourselves We Do Stand For Democracy In The Middle East

David Brooks is still suffering from the delusion that we're "spreading freedom" over in the Middle East.
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David Brooks is still suffering from the delusion that we're "spreading freedom" over in the Middle East. Here he is on this Friday's The PBS Newshour, hoping the audience has an attention span of a flea and has collective amnesia to the point where they can't remember anything that happened more than six years ago.

Host Judy Woodruff asked him about the latest bit of propaganda from ISIS and the death of the Jordanian pilot and whether "the Obama administration’s strategy for dealing with the terrorists in the Middle East, with Islamic State, is it working" and here's how he responded.

DAVID BROOKS: No.

First of all, one part I think is working, these are acts of terror. These are taunts designed the make us feel afraid, designed to make us feel helpless. They’re provocations. They’re not acts of war. It’s more like just an insult to our sense of humanity.

And I think it’s important not to overreact to these individual events. They are — we give them power if we overreact. Having said that, we do need to do what we can, which is limited, to make the Middle East a civilized place for people to live. And Islamic State is a roadblock to that.

And so to me, the things we have to do are things they’re doing to some degree, but not to a sufficient degree. The first is to degrade the Islamic State, which we’re doing the bombing campaigns, at least in Iraq, but not really, with the exception of one town, in Syria. And that means they will forever have a refuge to go to wreak havoc in Iraq and they will be able to make Syria into a hellhole, which it is.

The second thing is, we can’t — it just can’t be a battle over our status vs. their status. They kill one of us. We, or as the Jordanians do, kill two of them. That’s just a descent into barbarism.

And so what have to stand — to remind ourselves, we do stand for democracy. A lot of people have lost faith in that mission. But if we don’t have that mission of making the Middle East — doing what we can to make the Middle East a pluralistic, democratic place, then we have lost the moral high ground. It’s not about morality anymore. It’s just the barbarism that they want to be in charge of and us responding.


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DAVID BROOKS: A couple of things.

Sometimes, the military has worked. We have saved some towns. We have certainly helped prevent genocide with the bombing campaigns. But it’s been a bit insufficient so far.

The problem, unless you have a moral anchor and having a sense of this is what we believe in, we have heard pluralism, and it’s not going to be democracy for a little while, but at least pluralism politics, is the — and what we’re now in danger of doing is, we’re so offended by Islamic State, we become de facto allies with Bashar al-Assad and the al-Assad regime, because we have essentially stopped attacking them because we figure they’re better than the Islamic State.

And that’s not a place we want to be. The Assad regime is one of the centers of instability in that region. It’s a barbaric, genocidal regime. We can’t be the de facto allies with them because we think it will help defeat Islamic State and we think it will help us with Iran.

And we’re like switching back between the two. And that is a long-term reputational disaster.

The "disaster" is the fact that we went in there and blew the place up to begin with which allowed for the formation of groups like ISIS, but you're never going to get Iraq invasion cheerleaders like Brooks to admit that in a million years. Sorry Bobo, but that shipped sailed years ago if you're actually still worried about our reputation being ruined.

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