Finally. A column by David Brooks worth reading — not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say. Pointing to an essay by the counterinsurgency scholar Andrew Krepinevich, “How to Win in Iraq,” which has just been published in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, Brooks writes:
The article is already a phenomenon among the people running this war, generating discussion in the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the American Embassy in Baghdad and the office of the vice president.
Notice there’s no mention of the Bullshitter-in-Chief, not even in the rest of the column, a sure sign that the chief bullshitter is further out of the loop on his bicycle than his Crawford, Texas, vacation would indicate.
As to what the column does say — with approval, no less — we can only shake our heads in wonder. The strategy Krepinevich proposes is the same one “used, among other places, in Malaya by the British in the 1950’s,” Brooks writes. But to cite that long and sordid colonial occupation as a strategy for Iraq is sheer madness. The 12-year guerrilla war known as “the Malaya Emergency” of 1948-’60 was especially brutal on both sides.
To put down a Communist insurgency, the British resorted to atrocities, such as beheading and mutilating dead guerrillas, and terrorist tactics later copied by the Americans in Vietnam. British troops burned villages, bombed from the air, shot civilians, imposed curfews, cut off food and water supplies, and instituted “wholesale resettlement” of hundreds of thousands of people. All of this was part of the British High Commissioner’s “winning hearts and minds policy.”
The Emergency was declared over in 1960. Considered a major British success at the time, it looked phenomenally successful a decade later: Roughly 35,000 British troops had done in Malaya what 500,000 American troops couldn’t do in Vietnam. Never mind that in 1989 the British were forced out of Malaya anyway. This is a strategy for Iraq?
At the end of his largely dull article recapitulating everything we already know about the failures of the Iraq war, Krepinevich writes: “Even if successful, this strategy will require at least a decade of commitment and hundreds of billions of dollars and will result in longer U.S. casualty rolls.”
Such is the phenomenal idea that, according to Brooks, has electrified the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the American Embassy in Baghdad and the office of the vice president. Please don’t tell the Bullshitter-in-Chief. He might try to sell it to the rest of us from his bicycle.
— Tireless Staff of Thousands