Friday, August 05, 2005

A Neo-Conservative DonnyBrooks

The world's most ambiguous neoconservative, David "There is no such thing as a neoconservative" Brooks, might just have made the jump from neo- to just plain old conservative. In his most recent column, David Brooks utters the most blasphemous of heresies (more on this below). The inspiration to his epiphany can be found in the subversive, myth-busting work of Marc Sageman. Either Brooks just got around to reading Marc Sageman, or he just discovered that Sageman's findings actually have logical corollaries in the real world - not to be confused with the world of the "illsuionists." Either way, Mr. Brooks channeling/referencing Sageman:
In the days after Sept. 11, it was commonly believed that the conflict between the jihadists and the West was a conflict between medievalism and modernism. Terrorists, it was said, emerge from cultures that are isolated from the Enlightenment ideas of the West. They feel disoriented by the pluralism of the modern age and humiliated by the relative backwardness of the Arab world. They are trapped in stagnant, dysfunctional regimes, amid mass unemployment, with little hope of leading productive lives.

Humiliated and oppressed, they lash out against America, the symbol of threatening modernity. Off they go to seek martyrdom, dreaming of virgins who await them in the afterlife.

Now we know that story line doesn't fit the facts.

We have learned a lot about the jihadists, from Osama bin Laden down to the Europeans who attacked the London subways last month. We know, thanks to a database gathered by Marc Sageman, formerly of the C.I.A., that about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science.

Whether they have moved to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, England or France, these men are, far from being medieval, drawn from the ranks of the educated, the mobile and the multilingual.[...]

This new definition of the enemy has seeped into popular culture (in "Over There," the FX show about the Iraq war, the insurgent leaders are shown as educated, multilingual radicals), but its implications have only slowly dawned on the policy world. [emphasis added]
I wonder if Mr. Brooks would include himself in that slow-to-learn policy world? I think he would have to when you see what "implications" these shocking new developments lead to:

The first implication, clearly, is that democratizing the Middle East, while worthy in itself, may not stem terrorism. Terrorists are bred in London and Paris as much as anywhere else.
Once more with feeling David:

The first implication, clearly, is that democratizing the Middle East, while worthy in itself, may not stem terrorism. Terrorists are bred in London and Paris as much as anywhere else.[emphasis added]
I'm on the cusp of dumbstruck. Did he just say what I think he said? First Francis Fukuyama, and now Brooks. I mean, I couldn't have said it better myself. Come to think of it, though, I've tried on numerous occasions, most recently a couple of months ago (here). Bad news for President Bush. There goes rationalization number 9,256 for the Iraq war. Rove better get to work fast on a new one. This old tired saw is worn out.

As for Brooks, is this a sign of some new era of intellectual honesty? Has Bobo found paradise? Should we anticipate a grand mea culpa from Brooks, with him admitting that the invasion of Iraq has been an exorbitantly expensive, military draining distraction from the real effort to counter violent extremists, which has, in the process, greatly tarnished America's image, strained alliances, destabilized the entire region, given succor to the roots of civil war and has only made the violent extremists stronger, better trained, better equipped and more numerous. OK, maybe not, but one can dream.

Nevertheless, there is a glimmer of hope in Brooks' second suggestion:
Second, the jihadists' weakness is that they do not spring organically from the Arab or Muslim world. They claim to speak for the Muslim masses, as earlier radicals claimed to speak for the proletariat. But they don't. Surely a key goal for U.S. policy should be to isolate the nationalists from the jihadists.[emphasis added]
Isolation, containment, ideological struggle...that is beginning to sound more and more like Nadezhda's "marginalization" strategy. Eureka!

Here's an idea then, instead of listening to neoconservative illusionists and dreamers, why don't they just put
LAT in charge?

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