The Manchurian Columnist Takes Off His Mask

News Abroad

Mr. Sleeper, a lecturer in political science at Yale, holds a doctorate in education from Harvard and was a Shorenstein Center fellow there in 1998.

“We have all been raised on stories in which good triumphs over evil… because honesty… and decency pay off in the long run,” wrote our newest foreign-policy realist, David Brooks, on June 8. Only in fairy tales do people “who lie, torture, and kill eventually become entrapped by their own sins,” he cautioned. In Iraq, “savagery seems to be triumphing over decency.”

By the time you read this, Brooks will surely have added that the fortuitous killing of Abu-Masab al Zarqawi hasn’t much improved decency’s odds against savagery. But he’ll tout that successful strike as reason to get tougher. No more fairy tales: “All wars are savage. And guerrilla wars are particularly savage,” he intoned on June 8, as if echoing his frequent source, top Reagan State Department aide Charles Hill, who, asked by The Yale Herald in 2004, “What is the most efficient way to ensure that terrorists will not be in charge?” responded, simply, “Kill them.”

This isn’t the David Brooks who worried in 2002 that “idealism seems in short supply these days” and urged Yale students not to think cynically that “if we try to champion democracy in Iraq we will only screw it up.” This isn’t the Brooks who assured us in 2004 that only a few low-lifes were sponsoring terror and that “we’re going to increase troop levels” to deal with them. This isn’t the Brooks who recently invoked the Exodus to protect our mission. Now, the growing “hunger to leave Iraq” has him and a few others “furious that so many Americans are willing to betray the decent Iraqi majority in order to preserve some parlor purity.”

He frets that, “far from motivating most Americans to fight harder, cruelty on [the terrorists’] scale is unnerving…. The lesson [they teach] is that if you are willing to defy all norms and codes of morality you can undermine your enemy’s willingness to fight.” Thus do terrorists “create an environment in which it is difficult to survive if you are decent.”

It sounds compelling, but is David Brooks decent? Or is he an armchair general playing his last trump card after exhausting his fairy tales of 2002 and his myriad tricks in 2004 to help re-elect an administration which he knew by then had driven the “decent Iraqi majority” out of a frying pan and into a roaring fire? I can almost hear Saddam Hussein chortling, “I told you that only my iron fist could rule this country. You American ‘liberators’ have only set loose a savagery more nihilist than what Iraq knew under me.”

The problem is not that Saddam was right about his totalitarian terror state. It’s that people who think like Brooks were so wrong about how to undo it. “Sometimes in my dark moments I think [Bush is] ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ designed to discredit all the ideas I believe in,” Brooks told The Nation’s Eyal Press late last year. But Brooks was the Manchurian Columnist, urging war in Iraq before Bush did. Then he smeared John Kerry (“a brain of sculpted marshmallow”) to re-elect an administration headed by two draft-dodgers -- as defined by almost every conservative since 1967. Brooks even begged off condemning the Swift Boat Veterans, telling Jim Lehrer that “that was before I was born.”

Brooks did look back before he was born, though, to commend the brutal but “successful American counterinsurgency in the Philippines.” But history isn’t his strong suit. Ever since the French thought they’d crushed Algerian terrorism in the 1950s or the U.S. insisted it had fought its way to “light at the end of the tunnel” in Vietnam, armies battling guerrilla insurgencies, however noble their intentions, have learned that killing terrorist leaders and upping body counts doesn’t pay off more than do honesty and decency in the long run. That’s been true of occupying armies and of indigenous ones, like the Army of the Republic of [South] Vietnam, that depend too long and too heavily on outsiders.

Instead of being a realist about that, our Manchurian Columnist worries that we are too decent to win: “Because American troops come from the culture they do, they have not become the sort of people they would have to be to defeat the insurgents at their own game.”

But what “culture” is that? Let’s hope it’s not the one Brooks promoted by helping the Republican Party trash the honorable, republican military culture of Kerry, John McCain and of Georgia Senator Max Cleland, the paraplegic Vietnam hero slimed by Saxby Chambliss. McCain actually swallowed the humiliation administered by the Draft Dodger-in Chief and his minions; he bear-hugged Bush, thereby rewarding Karl Rove’s and Brooks’ labors “to create an environment in which it is difficult to survive if you are decent.”

Why is Brooks so sinuously and, in the end, naively indecent this way? I’m inclined to blame a deep-dyed, characterological neoconservatism beneath the Cheshire-cat grins of public charmers like Brooks and his friend William Kristol. Ever since Kristol’s father Irving explained that “a neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality,” these idealistic but failed Americans have prided themselves on knowing better than most that this is a hard, cruel world and that beneath their affectations of comity and a civic-republican idiom, they have to be tougher than tough.

But because they’ve so often been morally simplistic and naïvely idealistic about where strength really lies, their targets and strategies have always been more than slightly off. In the 1980s the neoconservatives backed Chile’s Pinochet, the Argentine military junta, and other dictatorial but anti-Communist regimes, believing with Jeanne Kirkpatrick that only nations that fell into the Soviet evil empire would stay trapped in a long night of totalitarianism. When that empire collapsed without an armed insurgency or a foreign army’s intervention, the logic of the neoconservatives’ support for Pinochet and the Argentine junta wore thin.

They’d somehow missed the lessons not only of Eastern Europe’s “Velvet Revolution” but of India’s ejection of the British without an armed insurgency or an invasion, and South Africa’s rejection of an alien apartheid government in much the same way. Almost as if neoconservatives were still recovering from some kind of psychic mugging beyond our purview, they haven’t seemed able to recognize that a culture of republican freedom has to rely ultimately on strengths which armies are vitally necessary but ultimately insufficient to defend, on virtues which money can never buy.

Neoconservatives like Brooks think they understand this. “We are seeking a sweet spot that satisfies both the demands of power and of principle,” he writes. “But it could be that given the circumstances we have allowed the insurgents to create, that sweet spot no longer exists.” No more “parlor purity.”

But “the circumstances we have allowed the insurgents to create” didn’t exist in March, 2003 or in November, 2004. Brooks lives for the moment when the rest of us will see this and toughen up. “‘When you have to deal with barbarians, you must behave like a barbarian yourself,’’ he quotes a Greek officer in the Balkan wars of 1912-13 declaring. This man, who has never served in an army, who boasted on The News Hour of having kept his young son up late to watch Saddam Hussein’s statue toppled, wants the American military to fight savagery with savagery.

Let him tell that to John Kerry, John McCain, and Max Cleland, each of whom assumed that burden and got slimed by Brooks’ Republicans. Let him tell it to his young son Joshua, whom he conscripted politically when he told the News Hour audience that John Kerry couldn’t be president because he couldn’t pass “the Joshua test,” meaning that he didn’t impress Joshua – because “anyone who can’t relate to a 10-year-old boy can’t relate to the American electorate.” Brooks should be honor-bound now to encourage his son to attend West Point to help find that “sweet spot” he mentioned and to contribute -- as his father has not -- to a culture of decency that would be truly tough enough to prevail.

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John Q. Public - 5/5/2008

Were you a physician, you'd be sued for malpractice. As a "wordsmith" from "academe", we can only giggle.

BDR (Bush Derangement Syndrome) claims yet another clueless victim.

John Q. Public - 5/5/2008


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Forget about David Brooks you do enough of a bang up/ crash 'em up/ demolition derby job rewriting history all on your own. The Gray Lady could have chosen you to replace that geezer hack Safire as easily as it did Brooks.

If the NYT is a laughingstock why did dirty Dick and Rasputin Rove channel Judith Miller as their conduit to war? Why was the hard to port Times a WR Hearst like proponent in the rush to the debacle in Iraq?

Again, where is your proof that these massive/ spread throughout country ammo dumps were secured immediately following the downfall of Baghdad?

Our troops are dying every God damn day from IED's manufactured directly from the ammo dumps you claim were captured and placed under full Coalition control.




Then to bring up those disgraceful treasonous/ traitorous Swiftboat Cowards of Lies as if what that despicable rat Larry Thurlow and two faced George Elliott spoke to be the undeniable Gospel truth is totally suspect/ discredited/ low blow now that we know that the Swiftboat jokers were a paid GOP front/plant/sponsored pack of proven liars.


"They may be with you for the first few bullets but they won't be there for the last tough battles." -- Karl Rove on John Kerry and John Murtha, Reuters 6/13/06


"Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments. "-- Salt Lake Tribune, 9/18/04

Rove's draft history includes a period where he claimed a student deferment even though he had dropped out of school.


John Kerry earned three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.


Richard B. Cheney applied and was granted five (5) deferments from military duty during the Vietnam conflict in which 58, 193 of his fellow countrymen perished in battle defending our great nation.

Your continued blind support of cowards/ liars/ cheaters/ traitors/ criminals and murdering psychopaths does nothing to provide the modicum of balance you seek and places light upon your judgment as nothing less than dishonest.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


You're correct and I agree to a point. Vietnam started with the hope/need/goal to befriend/assist/aid/defend a staunch ally in the south, to check Soviet/Chinese Communist expansion/domination and to fend off the psychological after shocks of the still lingering Korean War.

Who knew then that our government would lie and sacrifice the lives of our bravest to flex the world's strongest muscle against the weakest only to come up disastrously shy of our initial/intended aims. My point is that Kerry, Murtha and 58, 193 others served this great nation with honor and distinction yet, they are the one's to be ridiculed as traitors while the gutless/loathsome/despicable likes of Rove and Cheney are celebrated as heroes.

The United States is truly up side down and inside out. What a pitiful/pathetic waste we've become.

Take care...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


For me, your blind man defense of the indefensible is sad. Truly it is. If you are a staunch supporter of gutless cowards, scalawags, near do wells, traitors, liars, cheats, war profiteers and unrepentant murderous butchers that's up to you and I fully support/ defend your right to believe what you will.

However, you are the one who has to look in the mirror each day, not me. You are the one who has to justify this horrific disaster both in Iraq and here at home. The blood of defenseless/innocent women and children is on your hands, not mine. If you can live with yourself more power to you for I certainly could not. My God and Savior, Jesus Christ, would not approve of this behavior in me so I'll have to take a pass.

Further, who is John Ellis O'Neill other a Vietnam Vet who turned on a brother in arms, a untrustworthy smarmy guy who would probably get you shot in the field. A two bit Texas lawyer, Republican mouthpiece, smear merchant, liar, con artist and duper of fools. His word is about as good as any other crazed extremist and probably not even on par with my own. I did not vote for Kerry but, at least he showed up to stand for duty not like some other drunken/drug abusing AWOL skirt chasers and deferment yellow bellies.

As to your four points...

1.) Zarqawi's death. Well isn't it about time? How many times have we killed this guy 5, 10, 15 maybe? Didn't he have his arms and legs blown off about a year or so ago? Oh, yeah that's right he's the devil and able to regenerate limbs at will. What a big deal over a total nobody. Even the Shiite's and Sunni's wanted him dead. If this is your celebration/turning point of this war then the war really is lost. Wait 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... there's his replacement. When you nab the Bush's business associate/family friend Osama bin Laden give me a call.

2.) Liberal exposure of Haditha. The press is only doing it's job and I'll not comment as the investigation is not complete and I will never smear our troops. If this event did occur the real finger pointing should be towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For a President to whine "support ours troops' then make statements calling our troops 'BAD APPLES" is total bullshit and he should be ashamed of himself. Oh, that's right he not human enough to feel any shame. Ask Jeff Gannon maybe, he can refute this last point.

3.) Rove's exoneration. As of 6/14/2006 at 9:00PM there has yet to be an official statement from Patrick Fitzgeralds's office. However, Rove may have blown the cheese on Cheney and this isn't over yet. If Rove was to gutless to serve in Vietnam he probably crapped himself thinking about prison. Turn on Cheney... no problemo, where do he sign?

4.) George W, Bush's photo-op in Iraq. They were as happy to see him as 71% of us were to see him return. He was in good form today though in the Rose Garden press conference especially, joshing with that reporter about being blind. What a cad. Finally, if you need to know anything about drugs look no further than your idle here. He has a conviction for possession.

Take care...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Great post as always. However, there have been Whigs, Anti-Masons, Federalists, Free Soil, Democrats, Republicans, Progressives Communists, Socialists, Libertarians, Greens, unaffiliated and who knows of what other political ideology/indoctrination who have served this country with honor, distinction, courage, valor, dignity and given unselfishly their lives for our freedom.

The issue is does a draft deferred/ dodger/ string puller have the right to publicly spit upon the reputation of someone who actually served especially, one who saw action in combat?

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Good evening, how are you this week? What are you now an amateur ventriloquist or do you prefer to talk around/through others in the third person instead of being a man to discuss these all important issues face to face? One thing I would never imagine/take you for is gutless or shy. I know you all to well, my friend, to be a highly competent, coherent, intelligent and fierce competitor/adversary. So come out from behind your mother's dress and into the street to play with the big boys.

No one here at HNN including, a moonbat lefty like me, takes any pride/joy/or satisfaction in the loss of any single one of our troops and to say so is either naive/ spiteful/ foolish or just plain wrong headed.

It is your beloved Mr. Bush who called our troops "bad apples", wasn't it?

It is your hero Mr. Bush who has cut our veteran's lifeline of benefits, isn't it?

It is your bosom buddy Mr. Bush who sent our troops into battle without proper gear, go on deny it?

Your barking at the wrong burglar here chihuahua, aren't you?


What's your take on the current unemployment crisis/dilemma facing 200,000 veterans?



So who really does cares more for our troops President Bush or Cher?




Finally, it wasn't me to bring up the issue of drugs but, if you want to debate where's your proof?

As far as Murtha is concerned his truths must singe the hairs right off your ears? Again, where is your refutation?

As for this being a history site you'd never know it from your post. Where's the history lesson Shelby Foote?

This should be enough material to keep you busy and for a good discussion tomorrow evening after work. Be prepared, next time you want to play a little one-on-one with me you better polish up your 'A' game cause I taking it to the hole.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


I know you're out there. Is this just more of the same infantile behavior from you?

Backstabbing/sneak attack then run and hide? 'Pearl Harbor' Heuisler. HNN's mAnn Coulter.

Either, face up to discuss the issues or take a hike.

Typical right wing nutjob... all bluster/ hot air... no substance or facts... gutless when called out on your BS...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Thanks. A compliment from an intellect such as you is very well appreciated/uplifting yet, humbling.

This little exercise demonstrates once again, not only about Bill but, the right in general and their never ending quest to stifle dialogue and suppress ideas that don't conform to the harshest of programs or to highlight the multitude of mistakes/missteps they have wrought. This is unacceptable to the rightist in our new American polite society. The only thing they dislike more than a questioning non-believer is facts.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "errors are only mistakes if one fails to correct them." The right is blinded by their own infallibility.

The rightists never address facts with counter-facts nor present any factual evidence of their own. If they do the facts are made up/ ass backwards/ simpleminded and easily refutable with only minimal effort. Just ask Bill O'Reilly who claimed on two separate occasions that American GI's murdered German POW's at Malmedy without any contrition/apology when called on his lack of historic knowledge/stupidity. The Republican's and rightists really do hate our military. Always have. They loathe, fear and punish our armed services personnel at every opportunity while wearing "Support Our Troops" lapel flag pins made in China on $3000 Italian suits.

Their' is all big/ flowery/ expansive/ meaningless rhetoric heavily sprinkled with the words freedom/democracy that is repeated, ad nauseam, to a base that cannot/ does not read. Those few who do read fail to think/ comprehend or question anything other than what they are fed by the likes of Rove, Cheney, Kristol or Limbaugh.

Yet, here is Bill, at his a rightist best placing the smackdown/shut-up just last week when chastising another... a Mr. Anonymous...

"If you can stop whining long enough to listen, here's some advice... If you don't like the give and take on HNN, then go elsewhere for your education... being reminded of good manners by someone without the courtesy or courage to give his name is nothing more than a bad joke."

As you can see our resident Sturmmann again presents no factual based/driven argument, no ideas of his own, no rebuttal, no counterpoint, no debate... just a 'shut the hell up'. Well, at least he didn't threaten physical violence to this poor poster as is his standard M.O.

The same behavior is attempted/repeated here but, it is Mr. Heuisler who cannot stand the heat of HNN's give/take, being forced to hide/retreat and as for manners/ courtesy the mouth of a mud covered swill eating swine is far cleaner than our friends computer keyboard.

Have a great day...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Professor Sleeper,

This is a history site not a blog for you to piss in the pocket of a columnist you don't care for or who surely out earns you.

Also, your essay was way to long it is, pardon the expression/synonym, a snoozer. Let me shorten it up for you. Brooks' sucks! See that wasn't so hard and it didn't waste my time on what would have been a gorgeous evening at the driving range had I not spent it here reading this tripe.

Like all the other ivory tower shut-in's you also conveniently offer no viable solutions to ending/ exiting and not even close on winning the Iraq War. It's easier to attack some loud mouth/ moronic columnist, as I have shown here, than to actually have to think or God forbid toss out any original/ new ideas.

Brooks is partly correct in that the left and those dubbed to be their leading intellectuals are all "brain of sculpted marshmallow". You need to poor some chocolate sauce on your noggin.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


I don't wear a tin foil hat any longer having upgraded to titanium. All the better to thwart errant microwaves and simpleminded questions from GWB bootlickers about his less than stellar past especially, when more pressing issues are at hand like surpassing 2500 (2501) dead in Iraq. Murtha was hot this morning pushing Tubby (Russert) to the side on MTP to punch Rove square in the choppers. Great theater.

The internet is loaded with claims on the GWB possession issue. The question is for you or anyone else to provide the proof that it's not true?

Discrediting Hatfield because he was a small time crook (typical M.O. for these types who dabble in this realm) and not a show stopper nor that St. Martin's Press is a non-mainstream publisher is again not proof that an arrest/conviction/ subsequent community service did not occur back in 1972.

Funny, that you dwell on this point and not any of the others. Since you nor any of the birds in your flock can answer this question/provide proof otherwise let's just say I am mistaken and move on.

I've been meaning to post this here and now is as good a time as any... enjoy.


By the way the Globe is splattered with GWB/ Pickles/ Condi love tryst rumors.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


You just proved my point that neither you nor BH can disprove that this event did not occur. Where is your proof to exonerate GWB of these allegations?

Attack BH? You need to go back and reread the whole thread. I know that it may be too much work for you so let me condense the topic to a few simple sentences.

The right can say anything without the need for any type of proof whatsoever. The left on the other hand has to do exhaustive research/ heavy lifting/ place the solid irrefutable evidence on a silver platter for the right to only say 'ho-hum'.

The right is lazy both mentally and physically. That's why so few rightists serve in the military. The work of soldiering is far too hard.


As for Murtha you again take the easy way out by calling him an "old fool". Where is your proof/ refutation/ counterpoint to what he is claiming. So far it looks like he is correct and you're the one wearing the horse collar.

The video... go ahead, take a pass, I wouldn't want you to learn anything... again, the lazy man's way out... point given, point taken.

andy mahan - 9/18/2006

No. but really Patrick, what is your proof of a "drug possesion" conviction of the President?

No conspiracy theory or tinfoil beanie stuff please.

andy mahan - 9/18/2006

I don't get it Patrick. If you are wrong and you know it, why didn't you say it earlier? Why did you then attack Bill H for calling you on it?

Anyway, I suspect you are aware of the old axiom that you can't prove a negative, so how could I or anyone else do it? Can you prove that you don't have one?

Enough of that. Finally, let me add: Murtha is an old fool. He may have had some honorable service in the past, but I'm bettin that if, if he gets a chance to go mano e mano with Pelosi for majority leader his very questionable past will be exposed. For now he doesn't really matter, the Reps can point to him and say "see how nutty the dems are?"

As for the video, its 45 MINUTES long. I aint watchin no 45 minute show.

andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Very inciteful. In fact, I submit that they lose more than win, in one form or another. For guerillas to win they must transform at some point into a coherent governing entity.

Guerilla tactics are only a means to achieve legitimacy. In Iraq, that "means" to the end of "legitimate government" has been circumvented by the installation of the Talabani Administration. Kurds, among others, will die to protect the Iraq government, they have no choice, they will die if they don't.

Arnold Shcherban - 6/18/2006

Well done Patrick,

I really admire your persistence and determination in going after
that ultra-right, imperialistic zealot
and lier Heuisler.
Keep on revealing the ugliness and falsity of the arguments of that offender of democracy and piece and defender of war criminals and corrupt right-wing politicians which he tries to poison this history site with.

Bill Heuisler - 6/15/2006

Mr Keuter,
Ebbitt is the sort who takes delight in reading our casualty lists and using dead men's names to make political points. He has no military service or experience and gets his information from far Left web sites
...when he's not impersonating Frank Zappa or abusing women.

For example, his latest idiocy was:
"...look no further than your idle here. He has a conviction for possession."

Aside from obvious illiteracy, he falsly accuses the President of a drug conviction based on a book by a convicted felon (Hatfield)whose book publishers (St Martins) withdrew their contract after trying and failing to confirm his information. Ebbitt is too stupid to look up his sources before embarrassing himself.

Hatfield, Ebbitt, Moore and even Congressman Murtha, these creeps are apparently so desperate in their hatred they will believe anything any other creep says about our Marines, President or our country.

Don't waste time on a serious history site by acknowledging them.
Bill Heuisler

David M Fahey - 6/15/2006

The myth that guerillas and/or terrorists always win survives despite the many instances when they didn't. Should we count the resistance of American Indian tribes as guerilla wars? That of indigenous peoples in Peru against the Spanish? Secessionist movements in Spain? The anti-Soviet fighters in the Ukraine and Lithuania after WWII? The various insurgencies in colonial and post-colonial Africa? Malaya? And, yes, the Philippines in the early 1900s and more recently as well as Algeria since independence?

The decision of various defeated states NOT to fight on as guerillas and/or terrorists may be instructive. The Confederacy? Germany and Japan at the end of WWII? Biafra?

In my opinion the Iraqi war was a mistake, the American government mismanaged the situation that followed the quick military triumph, and what will come out of all this ....

Yet it is an exaggeration to imply that guerillas and/or terrorists are invincible.

Jason B Keuter - 6/14/2006

No, someone who has evaded service does not have the right to question the service of others.

Arnold Shcherban - 6/14/2006

Patrick, small correction: those soldiers did not perish to defend this truly great nation (no one attacked it that time), they perished
ignorantly defending the interests of this nation's economic and financial elite that by this time has transformed this nation's democracy into oligarchic plutocracy to a high degree.

Arnold Shcherban - 6/14/2006

'cause he's too smart to make such sloppy mistakes...

Jason B Keuter - 6/14/2006

All of this talk of draft deferments suggests, wrongly, that the Democratic party is the party of the working class grunt willing to go off and fight in a war. While Bush, Cheney, Rove and most of the others may have pulled strings to avoid Vietnam, the spirit of the modern Democratic Party is not hostile to draft deferments - it was after all Lyndon Johnson's deccededly egalitarian policy of ending draft deferments that "awakened" college students to the "moral horrors" of the Vietnam War and gave us "hell no we won't go" and arguably, the Silent Majorities and Reagan Democrats of working class constituents repelled by the knee-jerk anti-military base of the Democratic Party.

The ideology of the campus is that American wars must be bad, which is a convenient way for the privileged classes who attend universities of exempting themselves from duty. For all the talk about Iraq being a "failure", one hears little talk of a dramatic increase in troop levels - the kind of dramatic increase that might require that the children of the high end of the middle class defer their "studies" and pick up a gun. That is why the war must be labeled "flawed from the start", and "inherently bad idea" and "unwinnnable". To concede that is was actually possible to win it and in the process make the world a better place, would mean that those who say it isn't couldn't automatically exclude themselves from the horrors of war.

By excluding themselves from the horrors of war, however, they magnify those horrors for the minority who fight those wars. Thus, the anti-war movement is really all about preserving the aristocratic privileges established by the class of '68. I'll take the hypocrisy of Bush and Cheney over the sneering contempt of the children and grandchildren of the best and brightest..and, relative to most soldiers who fight, the richest and most privileged.

Jason B Keuter - 6/14/2006

This is pretty much an isolationist tract that assumes sweet spots can be maintained in the face of a globalizing, totalitarian nihilism.

The tiresome, underlying assumption is that in democratic societies (or even totalitarian societies) governments mobilize people by laying out the full costs of going to war. Societies generally make the necessary efforts once the war is underway.

I think it unfortunate that we had so much sacchrine "greatest generation" talk in the years prior to the invasion of Iraq. Soldiers in that war confronted the same moral challenges Brooks discusses. In this sense, wars are more similar than different. Our verdict on the existence of "sweet spots" probably is more a verdict on the moral character of the society fighting the war than it is the war itself.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 6/14/2006


Do you have any idea how many men sought and received Vietnam student deferments, and how many times each? Neither do I, but I suppose there were several million deferments issued. Recipients included hundreds of men now serving in Congress, many times the number of military veterans currently serving in Congress. Deferments were legal for college students who kept their grades up.

Do you have any idea how many men faked wounds to get a purple heart and an early out of the Vietnam war? Neither do I, but we can guess it was several hundred or more. When you read "Unfit for Command," you realize all the swiftvets knew faking wounds was a common fraud, and a commonly successful one.

You really should absorb "Unfit for Command," by John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, Regnery,(NY Times #1 Bestseller), 2004. The numbers are interesting--about 200 veterans who served with Kerry signed up with O'Neill to tell the truth, including their commander, Admiral Hoffmann, though about 10% more who were asked declined to sign up. A great many of those who did sign up were (and are) Democrats.

President Grover Cleveland hired a substitute when he was drafted. That was legal and did not impede his career very much.

This has been a rough period for left wingers, and we should cut them some slack right now. Any one recent event might have sent them into a tizzy, but all four has them slobbering incoherently: 1) Zarqawi's elimination; 2) exposure of the liberal media's fraud in reporting Haditha, 3) Karl Rove's exoneration; and 4) Dubya's photo opportunity in Baghdad today. When Tom Delay and Skooter Libby triumph over the false charges against them, too, and GOP majorities are returned in both houses of Congress this fall, many of our friends on the left can be expected to give up entirely, and repair to drug addiction or another of their favorite hobbies.

Jeremy A. Stern - 6/13/2006

Ah yes, the inevitable "giggle"... as if my typo invalidates my question which you, of course, didn't answer: i.e., how the minor misuse of "paraplegic" affects the column's argument?

(Or, indeed, as if my typo cancels out your apparent belief that "syndrome" starts with an "R", or your grade-school abuse of modifiers...)

robert m. collins - 6/13/2006

Why is it that so many leftists like yourself insist on denying the fundamental moral standing of those with whom you disagree? Why must David Brooks be "indecent" rather than, in your judgment, simply mistaken or wrongheaded?

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 6/13/2006

With Safire about to retire, the NY Times decided it needed another token conservative and chose to hire David Brooks. That was the signal for Brooks to begin his steady soft shoe to the left, hooking up with PBS, etc., in celebration of his "arrival" as a columnist in the incestuous big league world of New York and Washington. Little did he know the Times had actually thrown the helm even harder to port, and was about to become a laughingstock, openly advocating the election of John Kerry in its news columns and designing false late-hit stories like the unguarded ammo dumps, while ignoring the swiftboats, etc., etc.
They keep moving the goalposts on David Brooks! He is now David Broder, and yet remains the Times' "conservative!" And this Jim Sleeper needs to get away from Pacifica Radio and The Nation, leaving judgments about people like Brooks to others with a modicum of balance. Besides, he really wants to snarl about Iraq, not discuss Brooks.

Jeremy A. Stern - 6/12/2006

P.S. My apologies for my own typo in substituting a "t" for an "s" in "pretensions"!

Robert Pierce Forbes - 6/12/2006

Bravo, Jim! I have long felt that of neocon columnists, Brooks was the worst of the bunch, because he knew better. At least Bill Novak has the courage of his corruption.

Jeremy A. Stern - 6/12/2006

Should we point out, Mr. Public, that your acronym should be BDS, not BDR? Or that your second sentence has a misplaced modifier? Or should we just "giggle" at your own pretentions as a "wordsmith"?

Perhaps we should also ask in what possible way the minor misuse of the word "paraplegic" affects the column's argument?

John Nicholas - 6/12/2006

<QUOTE>But “the circumstances we have allowed the insurgents to create” didn’t exist in March, 2003 or in November, 2004. Brooks lives for the moment when the rest of us will see this and toughen up. “‘When you have to deal with barbarians, you must behave like a barbarian yourself,’’ he quotes a <END QUOTE>

Then Brooks believes that to defeat the Germans in WWII, we must behave like a Nazi?

He that ignores history is bound to repeat it. {unknown]

Arnold Shcherban - 6/11/2006

Every syndrom that becomes pandemic
such as BDR has one initial source - the primary carrier.