‘Pay Attention to Other People’s Nightmares, Because They Might Be Contagious’Posted: August 26, 2014
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 couple 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 Yorker. Over 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)
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- Extremist named John Maguire: Ottawa student likely joined ISIS after converting to Islam and moving to Syria (news.nationalpost.com)
- James Foley beheading: Boris Johnson says anyone returning from Iraq and Syria should be arrested (independent.co.uk)
- Reports: U.S. Authorizes Surveillance Flights Over Syria (npr.org)
- ISIS Militants Capture Air Base From Syrian Government Forces (nytimes.com)
- Everyone Who Wants To Destroy ISIS Needs To Know One Hard Truth (businessinsider.com)
- Iraq: on the frontline with the Shia fighters taking the war to Isis (theguardian.com)
- Boris Johnson says anyone returning from Iraq or Syria ‘without a good reason’ should be classed as a potential terrorist (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- The Mainstream Media, ISIS, and Iraq War Déjà Vu (veteransnewsnow.com)
- President Obama authorizes surveillance flights over Syria (cbsnews.com)
- Video: ISIS seizes Syrian air base (hotair.com)