Friday, June 20, 2014

West of Gettleman

Lionel Barrymore in Tod Browning's West of Zanzibar, 1928
Shorter David Brooks, "In the Land of Mass Graves: Are There Lessons for Iraq in Rwanda?" New York Times, June 20 2014:
See, we were just like the Clinton administration.
All of a sudden these soul-dead leaders were egging people on to slaughtering each other.
But it all turned out in the end. Rwanda is just like Singapore—8% growth!
And none of that pesky freedom, which is, let's face it, more appropriate for some continents than others if you know what I mean.
The "Bush was just like the Clinton administration" is subtext, not directly stated, but clearly the purpose of the column. Of course the Clinton administration didn't set off the Rwandan genocide by invading the country. Maybe that's why Brooks doesn't make the analogy explicit. Ya think?

Another thing he doesn't mention is how the Kagame regime in Rwanda didn't, in fact, so much end the violence as ship it out of the country to Congo, sort of the way Petraeus exported the Iraqi civil war to Syria. This could be because he doesn't know about it. To get there he'd have had to read Jeffrey Gettleman's New York Times Magazine profile of Kagame (published last September, and the source for all of Brooks's information on Rwanda, I think) all the way through to the end.

Tom Levenson notes that Brooks appears quietly to have acknowledged that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a bad thing, though not that he was wrong about it, let alone criminally fatuous, and suggests that we may be witnessing airborne swine.

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