Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (A David Brooks/New York Times Edition)

David Brooks inspires me add the New York Times to the list of organizations I think will be gone in a decade. An organization that cannot figure out that Brooks is peddling garbage cannot be adaptable enough to survive. Bird-cage liner. Bad-quality bird-cage liner. Today:

David Brooks: Disorder is endemic to Iraq. Today's crisis is not three years old... the crisis is perpetual. This is a bomb of a nation.... There is the endless Shiite-Sunni fighting. There is a massacre of the Assyrians.... Children... gunned down from airplanes. Tribal wars.... A former prime minister is found on the street by a mob, killed, and his body is reduced to pulp as cars run him over in joyous retribution....

The British tried to encourage responsible Iraqi self-government, to no avail. "The political ambitions of the Shia religious headquarters have always lain in the direction of theocratic domination," a British official reported in 1923.... Today Iraq is in much worse shape. The most perceptive reports describe not so much a civil war as a complete social disintegration. This latest descent was initiated by American blunders, but is exacerbated by the same old Iraqi demons: greed, blood lust and a mind-boggling unwillingness to compromise.... Iraq is teetering on the edge of futility.... Iraqi national identity is looking like a suicidal self-delusion....

Fire Donald Rumsfeld to signal a break with the past. Alter troop rotations so that 30,000 more troops are policing Baghdad. But... if Iraqi ministries remain dysfunctional and the national institutions remain sectarian... it will be time to accede to reality. It will be time to effectively end Iraq... diffuse authority down to the only communities that are viable -- the clan, tribe or sect.... The war was an attempt to lift a unified Iraq out of its awful history, but history has proved stubborn. It's time to adjust the plans to reality.

And Dennis Best presents us with his favorite David Brooks quotes from the past:

I David Brooks: September 23, 2003: The good things that are happening in Iraq are taking place far below the level of grand strategy.... bankers and civil servants from 11 central and Eastern European countries came to Iraq to describe the lessons they had learned in moving from tyranny to democracy.... U.N. humanitarian workers, far removed from the marble halls of the Security Council, risk their lives to feed and clothe Iraqis.... U.S. military officers spend millions of dollars building schools and tackling neighborhood issues. That's the work that gives Iraqis hope. Seventy percent of Iraqis expect their lives to improve over the next five years...

October 7, 2003: Washington will continue to get distracted by microscandals about leaks and such, but the Iraqi constitutional process is the most important thing.... Iraq really will be a beacon of freedom in the Middle East. The Americans who have died in Iraq will have given their lives in a truly noble cause...

April 10, 2004: Come on people, let's get a grip. This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion! Maybe we should calm down a bit....

April 17, 2004: Despite all this... in 20 years, no one will doubt that Bush did the right thing. To his enormous credit, the president has been ruthlessly flexible over the past months and absolutely committed to seeing this through...

May 18, 2004: There's something about our venture into Iraq that is inspiringly, painfully, embarrassingly and quintessentially American.... No other nation would be adaptable enough to recover from its own innocence and muddle its way to success...

January 11, 2005: The new, Shiite-led government will begin debating when the Americans should leave. The new government will remake the intelligence service. It will transform the military... its soldiers will finally have an authentic Iraqi government to fight for...

February 1, 2005: Ted Kennedy... blithely insisting that the terrorists are winning the war.... Brent Scowcroft warned of incipient civil war, denigrating the Iraqis' ability to manage their own tensions.... These are a people who have used the campaign as a process of therapy and self-education. These people have just built the most democratic government in the Arab world...

November 20, 2005: Re-enlistment rates are high because most American troops believe they can create a better Iraq.... Most important, the training of Iraqi troops has been going well. Authoritative investigators like Jack Keane, the retired Army general, report that the Iraqi troops are becoming effective fighters and their morale is high...

December 18, 2005: At the very moment that American gloom-mongers are opting for panicked withdrawal, there's been a pileup of good news on Iraq: the improved training of Iraqi troops, the more effective counterinsurgency strategies, the booming Iraqi economy, the vastly improved White House communication strategy, the amazing confidence of the Iraqi people and, most of all, this glorious election...

Has David Brooks always been a fool, or a liar? Yes.

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