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16 May 2008


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The johnny-one-note, neocon lunatic fringe of current notoriety is about to sunset from our existence. Praise be to God, Allah, Vishnu and Shiva.

"Does Obama believe that even the most intractable enemies can be pacified with diplomacy?" No, you medacious twerp. He believes diplomacy is one layer of a multi-strata foreign policy. Something everyone used to believe in before Dick Cheney navigated us into an iceberg and turned us into an international pariah.

Nine more months and our long national nightmare is over.


make that seven months.

Duncan Kinder

"Does Obama believe that even the most intractable enemies can be pacified with diplomacy?

The Soviet Union under Stalin met every meaningful test of being an "intractable enemy," yet we negotiated with them for various purposes at various times.

Indeed, even during WWII, through Franco's Spain and, I believe, Sweden, we maintained contacts with Nazi Germany for certain purposes.

And so forth.


What is interesting also is that Israel, with the assistance of the greatest propaganda machine ever known, with the assistance of the greatest military power the earth has ever seen, using its force with impunity to commit war crimes, cannot get the job done. It is a miracle that Hezbollah and Hamas continue to exist.

We are always being asked to give more, to believe more, to be more aware of the "plight" of the Jewish people, to be more ready to spill the blood of American youth, to bankrupt American treasure. Why? Because the job seems to be beyond the power of Brooks and his friends to accomplish.

Such pitiful people. Such incalculable harm. Such terrible tragedy.


Colonel, Im sure Sayed Nasrallah will enjoy the irony of your comparing him to Begin.

I was actually discussing this very article earlier today on another blog. I was more concerned by what Obama said to him though than the usual right wing crap neo-con journos spout.

I was intrigued to read that Obama believed that by getting the state to provide the services Hizballah and Hamas provide would actually strip them of support (that is assuming you could get the money to your average march 14th or Fatah politician and actually see it come out the other side as a service to the population and not in a Swis bank account.)

On the other hand I was amazed to hear him use the words "root causes of problems and dangers” and "violence that weakens their legitimate claims.”

A potential President that accepts that there are root causes that aren't a general hate of all Westerners and more amazingly admits that Hamas and Hizballah have "legitimate claims" is quite frankly astounding. So astounding that I can only think that Brooks missed it as an opportunity to call Obama an appeaser out of shock.

david carroll

Dear Colonel Lang - I am old enough to have had implacable enemies (Germany and Japan) as a boy. By the time I got to college they were my trading partners. Has David Brooks been so busy proagandizing that he has forgottten to read History?


I guess David Brooks doesn't realize that Israel has negotiated with Hezbollah in the past is reportedly currently negotiating with Hamas, albeit through intermediaries. Then there is Iran, North Korea and even Burma/Myanmar - all "terrorist" nations with which we've negotiated.

I used to like David Brooks a lot - he was a reasonable conservative that I admired, but he's been on the wrong side of too many issues in recent years.


Your opinion of Brooks may or may not be warranted (I've not read him), but calling Hizbullah, Amal, the Aounis part of the government is highly misleading in its own right. They form the opposition, who have, so far, successfully prevented the government from actually acting like a government, and obstructing any actions by the ruling majority coalition. You are not "part of the government" when your goal is to seize power or deny the majority coalition government any right to actually governing.

That said, what needs to be done with Hizbollah is disarm it. I'm not sure what to do about the however many brainwashed Hezbollah individuals screaming hatred at the "others" (and I'm certainly NOT saying all Lebanese Shia have been brainwashed). Hezbollah can be a political party, if it can actually act like one (a party participating in the government process).

Patrick Lang


Ah. One of Brooks' pals is heard from.

Hizbullah, Amal and the Aounis all have sgnificant blocs of seats in parliament. That makes them part of the government. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Some biographical data per this subject of interest. He was born in Canada. His citizenship is not indicated, nor is the original family name:

"David Brooks was born in to a Jewish family in Toronto and grew up in New York City in Stuyvesant Town. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a degree in history."

Seems as though he has yet to assimilate American values.

stanley Henning

Interestingly, long before Bush spoke in Israel " of a shared divine providence uniting American Christians like himself with Israel's Jews" (NYT), I have suspected a certain amount of intended propaganda in the writing of the Bible. Did some incredibly astute individual back then already see the value of writing the Bible in a manner such as would encourage this alliance between Jews and Christians over the centuries? We tend to treat religious documents as
"sacred" and therefore not subject to questions of this sort. I wonder!


Colonel, apparently Lewis has never heard of a filibuster in the U.S. Senate--a form of the "Free Veto" enjoyed in the Parliament of the Kingdom of Poland, in which even a single member could torpedo legislation by saying, "I do not consent." No doubt Lewis expects a Parliamentary Opposition to behave with all of the vigor of a row of potted plants.

Disarm Hizbollah? This suggestion reminds me of the movie "Jeremiah Johnson," in which neophyte trapper Robert Redford takes up with old Will Greer. One day Greer offers to "bring back" a Grizzly Bear if Redford will skin it for him. Redford proudly boasts, "Old Man, I can skin any bear you can catch." Later, Greer comes running back through the cabin and out the back door with a live Grizzly Bear chasing him. He gleefully shuts the door behind him and shouts to Redford, who's trapped in the cabin with the bear--"Well, I caught him, let's see you SKIN him!"

David Brooks seems to agree with Richard Nixon that, "The average American is just like the child in the family."

Leila Abu-Saba

And I believe if you want to see some hate, you can find it all over the right side of the Lebanese blogosphere as well as among Hizbullah. In fact, please cite sources for Hizbullah hate, and then go read some famous Lebanese Beiruti bloggers, those who don't like Hizbullah. Even certain expats whose objectivity I have come to respect have said things this week I found shocking.

I know that the average American middlebrow thinks "Muslim religious organization equals hate" but in the case of Lebanon, you really ought to spend time amongst all the players before you make sweeping assumptions about who hates and who doesn't.

My Lebanese brothers and sisters really, really need a national reconciliation movement. They need to spend about six years doing sulha among themselves. Their political problems are all exacerbated by the ethnic and religious intolerance, driven by fear and insecurity.

We can all support them by urging that they find a way not only to reach compromises, but also to reconcile.


Lewis, with respect, saying that Hizbollah should disarm is the same as saying the American Democratic party and it's supporters should disarm.


Seems to me that -- as almost always -- there is an abiding wisdom to be found in the words of John Kennedy.

From his speech to the Irish Parliament in 1963:

And no nation, large or small, can be indifferent to the fate of others, near or far. Modern economics, weaponry and communications have made us all realize more than ever that we are one human family and this one planet is our home.

"The world is large," wrote John Boyle O'Reilly.

"The world is large when its weary
leagues two loving hearts divide,
"But the world is small when your enemy
is loose on the other side."

The world is even smaller today, though the enemy of John Boyle O'Reilly is no longer a hostile power. Indeed, across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and our common vulnerability on this planet.


Brooks's view seems to be that of a child by comparison.


is the israeli-palestinian conflict the proper way of looking at the politcal balance of power issues in lebanon, iraq, and iran

has the US unwittingly placed itself the middle of a sunni-shia power conflict

is it more accurate to look at two middle east conflicts


a british general on charlie rose show promoting his new book talked of traditional bedouin power over the shia in iraq; he predicted the shia in iraq would never be able to put an end bedouin political hegemony

his "long view" "post-colonial" remarks reminded me that there are historical political issues between sunnis and shia as well as legacy colonial political structures which favored the sunni over the shia

the american political narrative for iraq discussions focuses attention on US interests related to al queda and the "global war on terror"

this ignores the collapse of the traditional balance of power structures

the political balance of power in lebanon is framed by a government power-sharing agreement created by the french that is now out of synch with the facts on the ground

the political power-sharing "agreement" no longer represents the community

iraq is also a colonial era legacy, structures that advanced a sunni hegemony at the expense of the shia

by removing sadaam, the US created a situation similar to lebanon

the legacy power structure no longer represents the community

seems to me that it would be a good thing if US political leaders gave the issues of the people in the
region more prominence and less prominance to US security fears

Patrick Lang


I have lost track of which post you were "on" when you mentioned Algeria.

The Algeria War STARTED in 1956. I think your dates are off a bit. I don't see any connection between French participation in the 1956 Suez expedition and their possession of Algeria. Their interest in Nasser's Egypt had a lot to do with Nasserite encouragement of Arab nationalism generally rather than Algeria. pl

As to the costs -- well, history is expensive. If you want to avoid all costs, stay home. pl


I think Brooks is on to something:

As a matter of course, the Lebanese government pays about $100,000 per seat per year to each party with parliamentary representation. As Hizbullah has 14 of the 128 seats in the Lebanese Parliament, the Lebanese state pays "one of the world's most radical terrorist organizations" about $1.4 million per year!

Therefore, to follow Brooks-esque propaganda to its logical conclusion, we have no choice but to designate the Siniora government as a terrorist financier, like IRGC-Qods Force.

I'm converted - this is much easier than devised nuanced responses to complicated problems...

William R. Cumming

Post-script. David Brooks was put on the op-ed page by the NYTimes to replace William Safire. He has been given enough time and no longer seems to have the wit, diligence, intelligence or comprehension of current events that come anywhere close to Bill Safire's ability who had at least been a White House speech writer and author of several weighty tomes one of which was fun for all political views and was basically a dictionary of politics. If the neo-cons or libertarians or conservatives generally can only come up with a glib but not deep Brooks the end is near for their long political dominance guiding US interests. Oh, and Mark Shields should be long retired also as the liberal spokesperson on Jim Leherer's Newshour. Definitely time for generational change there. It is clear both parties are in the middle of a long-term realignment and only afterwards will that be evident. Besides Shields, even though once a Marine, and Brooks show no comprehension of the modern military and what it can or cannot do. But hey so apparently do many flag ranks and elected pols fall into that category. The ability to mobilize 100 armored and mech-infantry divisions is no longer the measure of nation-state power. Not sure what is but certainly not that. Actually the current earthquake response in China with almost 5M homeless will give excellent insight into Chinese mobilization capabilities. Let's see how China vis a vis US is in response and recovery to a major natural disaster. May give real insights not just to China but decay under Bush Presidency.

Patrick Lang


"100 armored and mech-infantry divisions"

This "reductio ad absurdum" argument is not appropriate here.

What I am talking about is making sure we have a force balanced against a variety of possibilities. The notion that all our likely adversaries will be guerrillas is not really well thought through.

That is merely linear thinking. pl


How we delve into the inane is beyond me, it happens.

Mark Shields has become a Liberal Curmudgeon whose grasp of the political problem at hand can be espoused with a little history and humor as he responds with a vipers lash. Now possibly he could be considered a little towards the moderate end of Liberal but that comes with age.

Long live Mark Shields.


Clifford Kiracofe said: “Seems as though he (Brooks) has yet to assimilate American values.”

Brook’s values aren’t Canadian, either. He’s a hollowed-out propagandist filled to the brim with the opinions of those who sign his paycheques.

Richard Whitman

I think it was Jomo Kenyatta that said "today a terrorist, tomorrow a freedom fighter, then a nationalist and finally Prime Minister"



You wrote: "Colonel, Im sure Sayed Nasrallah will enjoy the irony of your comparing him to Begin."

It is just a guess on my part...but I seriously doubt that he would view it as ironic at all. Rather, it simply a very common transitional dynamic, playing itself out once again.



"History doesn't always repeat itself, sometimes it picks up a heavy club and screams 'weren't you listeninig the first time!'" Pratchett

I'm sure you are right that he sees it as a common dynamic but he has a good sense of humor and will most likely enjoy the irony as well

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