Sunday, July 18, 2021

The imperial mind of David Brooks

"America, disillusioned with itself, is now withdrawing." -- David Brooks

Brooks is an unreconstructed imperialist, an anti-China cold warrior who still envisions America as the last and only great white hope to save our admittedly "flawed and error-prone" democracy from the advances of the dark and evil forces around the globe.

In his July 15th NYT opinion piece, The American Identity Crisis, Brooks objects to Biden's apparent retreat from Afghanistan where this country has fought its longest, seemingly eternal war at the cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. I say apparent because the U.S. will continue to back the regime with drones based in neighboring countries and will supply it with armaments and aircraft as well as maintaining contracted fighters in-country.

The withdrawal of all U.S. troops by Sept. 1st is actually more of a strategic repositioning targeting China than a withdrawal. As Biden himself put it in his July 8th speech:

We are developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed.

And we also need to focus on shoring up America’s core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China and other nations that is really going to determine — determine our future. 

About 241,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zone since 2001. More than 71,000 of those killed have been civilians. If official accounts are to be accepted, the war has killed more people last month than in any other month since 2001, when the United States and NATO troops invaded the country.

But for Brooks, this cost in treasure and human life is apparently a small price to pay for his imagined military defeat of the Taliban and defense of the corrupt U.S. puppet regime in Kabul. 

He blames the withdrawal of the last remaining U.S. troops, begun by Trump and reportedly completed by Biden, on "the American left" who he claims has "lost confidence" in American manifest destiny and has forsaken the country's identity as the military enforcer of liberal-democratic values in resistant countries. 

He writes:

I guess what befuddles me most is the behavior of the American left. I get why Donald Trump and other American authoritarians would be ambivalent about America’s role in the world. They were always suspicious of the progressive package that America has helped to promote.

But every day I see progressives defending women’s rights, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and racial justice at home and yet championing a foreign policy that cedes power to the Taliban, Hamas and other reactionary forces abroad.
Brooks is actually more MAGA than Trump. He longs for the days when the threat and use of unrivaled U.S. military power were enough to impose regime change on resistant peoples and countries. But as the past half-century of failed U.S. military adventures, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, those days are numbered. 

Footnote: As I'm writing this, Reuters is reporting that Taliban officials and Afghan politicians met in Qatar on Saturday amid calls for peace by both sides following continued fighting in the region. 

I'm still hoping against hope that a bloody civil war can be averted once all foreign troops leave the country and that the Afghani people will finally be able to determine their own destiny. 

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