"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, July 17, 2006


Via Josh Marshall (or, rather, a guest poster at his joint), I saw this jaw-dropping comment from David Brooks:
f you look at the jihadists, they had a victory in '79 by pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They pushed the U.S. out of Lebanon. The pushed the Israelis out of Gaza and out of Lebanon. They're probably pushing the U.S. out of Iraq. They are on the march.

Iraq is part of that, but it's not the whole story. They are on the march, and they're sidelining the reasonable people in the Middle East, who may be the majority, but right now what's happening in the Middle East is the Israeli public opinion has gone to the center, for withdrawal, but Arab decision makers have gone to the extremes, to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Okay, who spotted the moment of idiocy? Let's break it down: "They" - the "jihadists," that is - are on the march. Reasonable people are being sidelined. And this is merely the continuation of a long process, which began with the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.

Well, now, hold on there one minute. The "reasonable people" who were sidelined in Afghnaistan were the Soviet army, and their defeat came at the hands of what was virtually a US proxy. If Brooks and his ilk want to argue that America's arming of the mujahideen was a proximate cause of our current situation, I'm right there with them (and, by the way, if you have not yet read Charlie Wilson's War, now would be a good time). In retrospect, it has not turned out well, and I will leave it for another day to ponder whether we should have predicted that from the beginning. But it is clearly either (a) ignorant or (b) dishonest to list the Soviet defeat as an example of the Islamists sidelining "reasonable people," without bothering to mention that we made it happen. Of course, this being Brooks, perhaps it is both ignorant and dishonest.




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Great post, Rod. Of course, debunking Brooks is becoming a hobby for millions!
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