‘Pay Attention to Other People’s Nightmares, Because They Might Be Contagious’

An F/A-18 Hornet takes off for northern Iraq, Aug. 18. AFP/Getty Images

An F/A-18 Hornet takes off for northern Iraq, Aug. 18. AFP/Getty Images

ISIS Makes Liberals Rediscover the Necessity of Hard Power

Bret Stephens writes: So now liberals want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, and maybe Syria as well, to stop and defeat ISIS, the vilest terror group of all time. Where, one might ask, were these neo-neocons a coupleNEO-NEO of years ago, when stopping ISIS in its infancy might have spared us the current catastrophe?

“Are we going to fight terrorists over there—or are we going to wait for them to come here? “

Oh, right, they were dining at the table of establishment respectability, drinking from the fountain of opportunistic punditry, hissing at the sound of the names Wolfowitz, Cheney, Libby and Perle.

And, always, rhapsodizing to the music of Barack Obama.

Not because he is the most egregious offender, but only because he’s so utterly the type, it’s worth turning to the work of George Packer, a writer for the New YorkerOver the years Mr. Packer has been of this or that mind about Iraq. Yet he has always managed to remain at the dead center of conventional wisdom. Think of him as the bubble, intellectually speaking, in the spirit level of American opinion journalism.

Thus Mr. Packer was for the war when it began in 2003, although “just barely,” as he later explained himself. In April 2005 he wrote that the “Iraq war was always winnable” and “still is”—a judgment that would have seemed prescient in the wake of the surge. But by then he had already disavowed his own foresight, saying, when he was in full mea culpa mode, that the line was “the single most doubtful” thing he had written in his acclaimed book “The Assassins’ Gate.”

“Do we choose to confront terrorism by means of war—or as a criminal justice issue?”

Then the surge began to work, a reality the newly empowered Democrats in Congress were keen to dismiss. (Remember Hillary Clinton lecturing David Petraeus that his progress report required “a willing suspension of disbelief”?) “The inadequacy of the surge is already clear, if one honestly assesses the daily lives of Iraqis,” wrote Mr. Packer in September 2007. The title of his essay was “Planning for Defeat.”

Next, Mr. Packer pronounced himself bored with it all. “By the fall of 2007, my last remaining Iraqi friend in Baghdad had left,” he wrote a few years later. “Once he was gone, my connection to the country and the war began to thin, even as the terror diminished. I missed the improvement that came with the surge, and so, in my nervous system, I never quite registered it.” This was Mr. Packer in Robert Graves mode, bidding Good-Bye to All That.

And then came Mr. Obama…(read more)

WSJ

Write to bstephens@wsj.com


One Comment on “‘Pay Attention to Other People’s Nightmares, Because They Might Be Contagious’”

  1. […] see – 'Pay Attention to Other People's Nightmares, Because They Might Be Contagious' – […]


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