Brooks mentions some nice points of progress in Iraq. He has numerous details and sources, and puts about as much serious information as can be put in a short article. I have read that such articles are not his preferred length, and he does better with more words. But, we have to notice that Brooks really just scratched the surface, and his article isn’t nearly equipped to make his point (although I like Brooks, and wouldn’t assume he himself is unequipped).
Sometimes, I wonder if the White House wants to advance a certain message, and asks a favorite journalist (and they’d need one with relatively pro-Iraq views) for political cover. I wonder if Brooks’ is pressured to maintain certain readership numbers among liberals and conservatives, and sometimes has to placate certain audiences to keep his numbers good or his editors happy. I don’t know how the game works, but it enters my mind sometimes.
Brooks tries to demonstrate that our efforts are making substantial progress in different areas of Iraqi society. But, is that a worthy goal? Is it, and was it ever, a just undertaking? What shall be required, and what must be overcome, to make our gains sustainable? Is all that an efficient use of our money and human resources? Does Iraq want us there in the future?
Further questions pop up too. Why Iraq, and not some other country? Even if nation-building works, when is it ever right or just? What exactly does foreign nation-building (up to this point and in the future) do for ordinary Americans? If the answer cannot be concrete and compelling, does that demonstrate the wisdom of leaving (assuming there are other projects out there of concrete and compelling value)?
Brooks answered one question about the war. I don’t see how his points fuel his conclusions, or why he really said all that. Plus, I don’t agree that past costs should factor into our current decision (those costs are sunk either way), as he implies. I’d love to be convinced, if it makes more correct than I am now.