Fourth Time’s A Charm
June 3, 2011

I see David Brooks, bored with our campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (already!), is trying to gin up support for a shiny new intervention:

That’s why it’s necessary, especially at this moment in history, to focus on the nature of regimes, not only the boundaries between them. To have a peaceful Middle East, it was necessary to get rid of Saddam’s depraved regime in Iraq. It will be necessary to try to get rid of Qaddafi’s depraved regime in Libya. It’s necessary, as everybody but the Obama administration publicly acknowledges, to see Assad toppled. It will be necessary to marginalize Hamas. It was necessary to abandon the engagement strategy that Barack Obama campaigned on and embrace the cautious regime-change strategy that is his current doctrine.”

The absolutely crazy thing about this column is the standard Brooks applies for intervention: “normal” regimes like Saudi Arabia are fine, you see, but Syria is a depraved regime because, “Either as a matter of thuggishness (Syria) or ideology (Hamas), they reject the full humanity of other human beings. They believe it is proper and right to kill innocents.” That’s why he singles out Syria for intervention.

I suppose the implication is that Saudi Arabia embraces the full humanity of other human beings and doesn’t believe it is proper and right to kill innocents. But that’s ludicrous. Has Brooks already forgotten what country dispatched their troops into Bahrain to stomp out that country’s protesters? By what standard is that not depraved? Should we announce our intention to depose King Abdullah as well?

Of course not. For a whole host of reasons, the primary one being this: our “humanitarian interventions” are not successes. They are indiscriminate bloodbaths. And while it’s all well and good for a pampered columnist to talk in the abstract about the need to do something, it is appallingly irresponsible of Brooks to not consider the implications of what he’s saying.

As for the note he ends on — suggesting that peace between Israel and Palestine is impossible until we civilize those barbaric Arab countries — the less said the better. I’ll only point out that his colonialist condescension is even less palatable for implying that Netanyahu and the Likud party have done nothing to hinder the peace process. Especially knowing what we do now.

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