David Brooks is willing to give war a chance

James G. Wiles
With the appointment of a new executive editor, it's a time of renewal at the New York Times.

Case in point: David Brooks's Friday column, "The Depravity Factor."  Therein, the so-called "conservative" columnist of the Good Gray Lady announces the startling discovery that, sometimes, you know, only the use of force will do.  Really.

Sometimes you just need to take people out.  Not until all of the depraved despots of the Middle and Near East have been deposed, Brooks writes, de haut en bas (or assume room temperature, as Rush would say),  is there a realistic chance of achieving an Arab-Israeli settlement. Or achieving the over-arching goal of creating modern, healthy nation-states across the Muslim heartland.

Truly, the scales have fallen from David Brooks' eyes. He's a Daniel-come-to-judgment.

Iraq? "It was necessary to get rid of Saddam's depraved regime."

Muammar Qaddafi?  "Fundamentally depraved..."

Hamas? "[D]epraved."

Bashar al-Assad? "[O]ne of the world's genuinely depraved regimes...[U]ndermines the universal principles of morality..." Must be "toppled."

Hezbollah?  Ditto.

Apparently, David Brooks has been reading the great P. J. O'Rourke.  Give War a Chance was the title of a 1992 collection of O'Rourke's stuff.  More amazingly (I'm being slightly unfair here because Brooks was trained, among others, by Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago), Brooks is almost, but not quite, willing to acknowledge the existence of the Problem of Evil in the World. He does use the word "morality."

And "depravity." Even "morality."

But "evil?" Well, that's a bridge too far. Probably because, to speak of "evil," Brooks would be committing the faux pas of sounding like George H. W. Bush. Or -- gasp! -- Ronald Reagan.

Why don't you just say it, David? Evil. Because that's what you're writing about.

Here's Brooks' peroration a la Demosthenes:

"It doesn't matter how great a law professor or diplomat you are. It doesn't matter how masterly you sequence the negotiations or what magical lines you draw on the map. There won't be peace so long as depraved regimes are part of the picture...As long as Hamas and the Assad regime are in place, the peace process is going nowhere, just as it's gone nowhere for lo these many years."

Well, better late than never. But, in truth, Brooks's observation is so devastatingly trivial that it's laugh-out-loud funny.

Belatedly, Brooks has come to the same conclusion which former Union commander-in-chief and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant shared with German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1877 during Grant's world tour. In the course of a long smoking session, the ex-President and the Prince discussed many topics. One was the recent assassination attempt on Kaiser Wilhelm I.

Because of his injuries, Bismarck apologized, his master regretted that he would be unable to meet with the former American President. Grant said he understood.

Although the two men didn't know it, they sat on the eve of a wave of revolutionary violence which would break across the world over the next 60 years. Before "propaganda by the deed" ended in the 1930's, sixteen countries on three continents would see major acts of anarchist terrorism. Among the victims would be seven European, Russian and American monarchs, heads of state or heads of government -- including President William McKinley.

It would also be the subject of one of Joseph Conrad's best novels, The Secret Agent (1907).

What to do, the two leaders asked themselves, about this problem? The Iron Chancellor who had preached "blood and iron" in 1861 as the solution to the problems of a disunited Germany and the man who had led the American armies which destroyed the Confederacy quickly found themselves in agreement. It is the place where David Brooks of the New York Times has arrived at in this Anno Domini 2011.

"All you can do with such people," Grant said, "is to kill them."

"Precisely so," said Bismarck.

Nice to know.

The Israelis have been there for a long time.

With the appointment of a new executive editor, it's a time of renewal at the New York Times.

Case in point: David Brooks's Friday column, "The Depravity Factor."  Therein, the so-called "conservative" columnist of the Good Gray Lady announces the startling discovery that, sometimes, you know, only the use of force will do.  Really.

Sometimes you just need to take people out.  Not until all of the depraved despots of the Middle and Near East have been deposed, Brooks writes, de haut en bas (or assume room temperature, as Rush would say),  is there a realistic chance of achieving an Arab-Israeli settlement. Or achieving the over-arching goal of creating modern, healthy nation-states across the Muslim heartland.

Truly, the scales have fallen from David Brooks' eyes. He's a Daniel-come-to-judgment.

Iraq? "It was necessary to get rid of Saddam's depraved regime."

Muammar Qaddafi?  "Fundamentally depraved..."

Hamas? "[D]epraved."

Bashar al-Assad? "[O]ne of the world's genuinely depraved regimes...[U]ndermines the universal principles of morality..." Must be "toppled."

Hezbollah?  Ditto.

Apparently, David Brooks has been reading the great P. J. O'Rourke.  Give War a Chance was the title of a 1992 collection of O'Rourke's stuff.  More amazingly (I'm being slightly unfair here because Brooks was trained, among others, by Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago), Brooks is almost, but not quite, willing to acknowledge the existence of the Problem of Evil in the World. He does use the word "morality."

And "depravity." Even "morality."

But "evil?" Well, that's a bridge too far. Probably because, to speak of "evil," Brooks would be committing the faux pas of sounding like George H. W. Bush. Or -- gasp! -- Ronald Reagan.

Why don't you just say it, David? Evil. Because that's what you're writing about.

Here's Brooks' peroration a la Demosthenes:

"It doesn't matter how great a law professor or diplomat you are. It doesn't matter how masterly you sequence the negotiations or what magical lines you draw on the map. There won't be peace so long as depraved regimes are part of the picture...As long as Hamas and the Assad regime are in place, the peace process is going nowhere, just as it's gone nowhere for lo these many years."

Well, better late than never. But, in truth, Brooks's observation is so devastatingly trivial that it's laugh-out-loud funny.

Belatedly, Brooks has come to the same conclusion which former Union commander-in-chief and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant shared with German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1877 during Grant's world tour. In the course of a long smoking session, the ex-President and the Prince discussed many topics. One was the recent assassination attempt on Kaiser Wilhelm I.

Because of his injuries, Bismarck apologized, his master regretted that he would be unable to meet with the former American President. Grant said he understood.

Although the two men didn't know it, they sat on the eve of a wave of revolutionary violence which would break across the world over the next 60 years. Before "propaganda by the deed" ended in the 1930's, sixteen countries on three continents would see major acts of anarchist terrorism. Among the victims would be seven European, Russian and American monarchs, heads of state or heads of government -- including President William McKinley.

It would also be the subject of one of Joseph Conrad's best novels, The Secret Agent (1907).

What to do, the two leaders asked themselves, about this problem? The Iron Chancellor who had preached "blood and iron" in 1861 as the solution to the problems of a disunited Germany and the man who had led the American armies which destroyed the Confederacy quickly found themselves in agreement. It is the place where David Brooks of the New York Times has arrived at in this Anno Domini 2011.

"All you can do with such people," Grant said, "is to kill them."

"Precisely so," said Bismarck.

Nice to know.

The Israelis have been there for a long time.