Sunday, November 01, 2009

Warlord Schoolboy

I'd almost forgotten what a dunce David Schoolboy Brooks is because I never read him anymore, but this terrible piece was somehow unavoidable.  In it, Schoolboy offers no actual argument for escalating in Afghanistan. He just refers to unnamed gladiators like himself to taunt and bully Obama with that great question of modern statecraft: "are you man enough to go to war"?

Glenn Greenwald has previously sent Schoolboy to the corner for chest-beating in class.  He does it again this time (as does Amy Davidson at the New Yorker), so I'm reluctant to mention the man again.  The problem is that Schoolboy spent the Bush years not only defending all pointless invasions but also establishing himself as the national spokesperson for middle-class values.  In other words, he has specialized in defining extreme right-wing positions - particularly military conflict-resolution and economic plutocracy - as the foundation of bourgeois utopia. 

A few people call Schoolboy on this publicly, and Greenwald is exemplary in railing tirelessly against the weird, myopic hypocrisy of media and political elites who are happy to spend money we don't have for war but not for health care.  To me they sound like the clueless leaders of France during Napoleon III's mid-19th century Second Empire, a period when France should have been democratizing and developing its social capacities for various kinds of economic and social development, and when it instead became increasingly militaristic and economically second-rate.  Schoolboy's term "tenacity" accidentally invoked not Churchill but Nixon in Vietnam.  The middle-class lets people like Brooks speak for it only at its own mortal peril.

Schoolboy published the day after his own paper shone yet another light into the cesspool of Afghan leadership with a story revealing that Ahmed Wali Karzai, already suspected of being a major opium trafficker, is a CIA operative who helps them run a paramilitary force in Kahdahar province. The past couple of weeks have seen increasing exposure of Afghan and "AfPak" reality, including Jane Mayer's report that the CIA is also running a U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan (see also UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston), Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's unpopular visit to Pakistan, marked by the market bombing in Peshawar (and Clinton pushing "the button on a computer that randomly chose more than 700 lottery winners"),  and the U.S. visit of Afghan democracy activist Malalai Joya, whose book, A Woman Among Warlords, is a reminder of the costs of the real-world version of the armchair warlord schoolboys.

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