Wednesday, January 07, 2004

A (second) update to the previous post: at first, I was puzzled as to why the Brooks column caused so many people to blow a gasket. I'm embarrassed to admit that it took Matthew Yglesias to explain it to me. (Certainly Mark Kleiman's posting should have tipped me off.) In fact, the controversy is not at all about neocon conspiracy theories in general, or about anti-Semitism, or silencing debate--it's about Gen. Wesley Clark. Brooks mentions Clark in his article, in a way that might imply that he considers Clark one of the wacky conspiracy theorists who believe in a super-powerful cabal of neoconservatives running American foreign policy. And that's gotten Clark supporters (perhaps Democrats in general) hopping mad.

Now, I have no idea what Clark's current position is on the "neocon conspiracy" issue, but I do know that he is on record as saying,
As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan....I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned.
Of course, much has been said, since then, about this quotation and its implications about Clark's beliefs. Similarly, his claim that "[t]here was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam came from the White House, it came from people around the White House," has been analyzed to death by supporters and opponents. I'm prepared to accept that fairly benign interpretations of these remarks are plausible, and even that reasonable people might consider Brooks' characterization of Clark as a conspiracy theorist to be unfair. But under the circumstances, I'm a bit surprised that Brooks' offhand partisan shot at Clark, buried in an op-ed column (Oxblog's Josh Chafetz seems to have missed it, too), has managed to provoke such a fuss. Methinks the bloggers doth protest too much....

No comments: