New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks has become a self-parody of Obama worship among the elite media. When he met Obama and observed his perfectly creased pants, it was love at first sight. The White House plays him like a lute. Here is the White House’s Libya tune:
President Obama took this decision, I’m told, fully aware that there was no political upside while there were enormous political risks. He took it fully aware that we don’t know much about Libya. He took it fully aware that if he took this action he would be partially on the hook for Libya’s future. But he took it as an American must — motivated by this country’s historical role as a champion of freedom and humanity — and with the awareness that we simply could not stand by with Russia and China in opposition.
In this decision, one could see the same sensitive, idealistic man who wrote “Dreams From My Father.”
Don’t tell Bill Ayers! But this is deep stuff. It all results, Brooks explains, in a strategy that might be called Squeeze and See. Under this strategy “multilateral forces ratchet up the pressure.”
We will apparently See if a limited kinetic military kind of a deal can produce what is sometimes known inside the administration, according to Brooks, as one of the three D’s — Defeat, Departure, or Defection.
Ratcheting up the pressure “is meant to send the signal that Qaddafi has no future. Will it be enough to cause enough defections? No one knows. But given all of the uncertainties, this seems like a prudent way to test the strength of the regime and expose its weaknesses.”
Failure is an option. “It may turn out in the months ahead that we simply do not have the capacity, short of an actual invasion (which no one wants), to dislodge Qaddafi. But, at worst, the Libyan people will be no worse off than they were when government forces were bearing down on Benghazi and preparing for slaughter.”
Up to this point Brooks appears to be channeling the thoughts of the White House. He celebrates the strategy of graduated escalation — as it used to be known — and leaves the questions of what comes next for another day. But not before a toast to “the spirit” of the kinetics:
It is tiresome to harp on this sort of thing, but this is an intervention done in the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr. It is motivated by a noble sentiment, to combat evil, but it is being done without self-righteousness and with a prudent awareness of the limits and the ironies of history.
Reading this, a fourth D comes to mind. And at least he got the “tiresome” part right. In any event, Samantha Power is perhaps the principal architect of our intervention in Libya, and the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr is rather far from her thought, if not Obama’s, as Stanley Kurtz explains.
Mario Loyola provides an adult counterpoint to Brooks. I hope Brooks is right and Loyola wrong. I hope Qaddafi gets what he deserves and that something better emerges in Libya as a result. But it seems to me that Brooks provides more ground on which to worry that we may not be on the right track.