Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Senate hearing, 9/11/07:

Senator Warner: Are you able to say at this time if we continue what you have laid before the congress here, this strategy, do you feel that that is making America safer?

...General Petraeus: Sir I don't know actually.

David Brooks today:

I asked [Defense Secretary Robert Gates] whether invading Iraq was a good idea, knowing what we know now. He looked at me for a bit and said, "I don't know."

Why do they hate America?


The point of the Brooks column is that Gates's thinking is really, really different from the we-can-change-the-world mindset of the Bush White House up to now: In addition to his doubts on the war, Gates questions the value of encouraging elections in the Arab/Muslim world, and Gates further contradicts his boss's high-flown rhetoric by saying, "I don't think you invade Iraq to bring liberty. You do it to eliminate an unstable regime and because sanctions are breaking down and you get liberty as a byproduct."

Yeah, that's swell -- but Brooks inadvertently makes a point that's pretty much the opposite of the one he's trying to make.

The real lesson here is that Bush chose Gates as secretary of defense and now isn't paying the slightest bit of attention to Gates's critiques. Bush doesn't give a crap what Gates thinks of his worldview -- all that matters to Bush is that Gates doesn't make it difficult for him to do whatever the hell he wants. Bush's defense secretary may not be a neoconnish "idealist," but Bush's policies are still neoconnish and "idealist." So who cares what Gates says to some wimp with glasses from the op-ed page of The New York Times?

Bush's appointees come in two varieties: apparatchiks and seat-warmers. It's good for the Senate to confirm the seat-warmers (Gates, Mukasey, etc.), because they don't do as much harm as the apparatchiks (Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.). But they don't do any good.

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