Thursday, May 01, 2014

Regarding pundits and David Brooks's "Saving the System"

In his April 28, 2014 article, Saving the System, New York Times columnist David Brooks laments the retreat of the aspirational, American-led pluralistic liberal world order. Brooks sees the current geopolitical situation much as I do: opportunistic power grabs across the board by rogue actors in competitive reaction to credibility squandered by the feckless leadership of the shrinking American hegemon. (Brooks doesn't assign blame, but I will: President Obama.)

What frustrates me about prominent pundits like Brooks is they talk about America's faltering will to lead the free world as though the state of the national character is something separate from themselves when, in fact, pundits like Brooks are instrumental in the competitive social politics that shape the national character, no more pivotally than when the popular narrative of the American-led Iraq compliance enforcement and peace-building mission was in the balance.

In August 2004, liberal Bush critic Tom Junod recognized the essential principles at stake in the Iraq intervention and described the pivotal importance of the prevailing narrative in "The Case for George W. Bush, i.e., what if he's right?":
... war is undertaken at the risk of the national soul. The moral certainty that makes war possible is certain only to unleash moral havoc, and moral havoc becomes something the nation has to rise above. We can neither win a war nor save the national soul if all we seek is to remain unsullied—pristine. Anyway, we are well beyond that now. The question is not, and has never been, whether we can fight a war without perpetrating outrages of our own. The question is whether the rightness of the American cause is sufficient not only to justify war but to withstand war's inevitable outrages. The question is whether—if the cause is right—we are strong enough to make it remain right in the foggy moral battleground of war.
Stigmatizing right normalizes wrong in general. Stigmatizing an epochal paradigmatic right like the Iraq intervention fundamentally reshapes American culture, politics, policy, and leadership with metastatic premise. The prevailing of the revisionist anti-liberal narrative against the Iraq mission is patient zero for the deficient American leadership in competition that's troubling Brooks. When pundits conceded the false narrative stigmatizing OIF, the will of the American people to effectually enforce liberal world order as the leader of the free world followed suit and fell.

The necessary foundation-fixing step for "saving the system" is prominent pundits like David Brooks correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission.

To wit, the 1990-2011 UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement and peace operations with Iraq were the defining American-led intervention of the post-Cold War and 9/11 era. President Bush's decision on the Saddam regime's harmfully belated "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) was substantively correct on the facts, justified on policy, and procedurally correct on law and precedent. Under President Bush, the Iraq intervention was essentially right on principle, by upholding the model "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), and in practice, by setting the competitive bar for real American leadership of the free world with ethical resolute adaptive leadership that stood fast versus the concerted political and practical attacks customized to the Vietnam War stigma.

But President Obama's subsequent radical deviation with Iraq was premised on the revisionist anti-OIF narrative.

In the broader politics, clarifying the Iraq issue with the upright corrective approach modeled at the OIF FAQ is necessary to assuredly promote humanitarian liberal policy, uphold the competitive proven-sufficient American leadership of the free world that manifested with Iraq, and hold to account the anti-liberal revisionists responsible for Obama's catastrophic course change. In contrast, the abased concessionary approach to the OIF stigma that's been adopted by acquiescent erstwhile (purported) OIF supporters has led — can only lead — to abject devaluation of humanitarian liberal policy, anti-competitive contraction and dilution of American leadership of the free world, and the concomitant encouragement and enabling of avid illiberal competitors.

The Iraq mission activated all the elements of American leadership essential for the pluralistic liberal world order to compete for dominance in the geopolitical arena. Therefore, the stigmatization of Operation Iraqi Freedom with false narrative has undermined the fundamental premises of the American-led pluralistic liberal world order. In its malignant cultural, political, policy effect, the path-shaping OIF stigma is the purposeful v2.0 strategic heir of the long debilitating Vietnam War stigma.

I started reading the comments to Brooks's column, but I had to stop after two because of course the NY Times' readers blame President Bush despite that Bush reacted to 9/11 and acted to resolve the Saddam problem properly, and moved to reinvigorate the Western coalition.

The blame for the weakened West is not with Bush. Rather, the blame properly lies with the betrayers who subverted American foreign affairs under Bush for partisan gain by adopting our competitors' propaganda with compounding harmful effects. Yet with their typical sociopathic gall, the betrayers responsible for sabotaging the national character instead blame the consequences of their malfeasance on President Bush, the same American leader who tried his best after 9/11 to rally the West for the contest. The Faustian reward for their treachery was winning political control of America. The damaging consequences, described by Brooks, of having the betrayers in charge of America have been predictable.

I saw this danger coming on 9/11 and tried to head it off, but my self-sacrificial college activism was for naught. I'm angered by President Obama's foreign affairs and I feel impotent to do anything about it, which makes for a bitter realization that the betrayers succeeded and I failed. I don't see how I can fix the problem now except appeal to liberal pundits to doggedly fight against the anti-liberal political tide.

In the narrative contest for the zeitgeist, the truth is just a narrative that must be competed for like any other in the political arena. As a layman, I can help model the substantive piece in the narrative contest but not compete the political piece; for example. Subject knowledge is not the same thing as public expert authority, and both attributes are needed to effectually clarify the Iraq issue for the public against the revisionists and acquiescers. Therefore, pundits are needed to set the record straight.

Correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission is necessary to reestablish the sure American leadership of the free world under President Bush. Whereas the revisionist anti-OIF narrative, if allowed to stand, lays the foundation and sets the frame for a paradigm shift antithetical to American leadership of the free world. For public expert authorities who know the truth, their choice in the arena to correct or concede the OIF stigma is an ethical test with long pervasive consequences.

Related: Critique of Christopher Hitchens's answer to Jon Stewart.


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