When You’ve Lost David Brooks. . .

I know reader opinion here about David Brooks is . . . divided (full disclosure—oh hell, you don’t need to be told, but I will add that if you ask Charles Krauthammer who his favorite liberal columnist is, he’ll say “David Brooks”), and it is certainly true that Brooks tends to give Obama the benefit of the doubt too much of the time. Still. Brooks’s column today in the NY Times today is brutal on the Iran deal. He says it is a loss on par with the Vietnam War:

Wars, military or economic, are measured by whether you achieved your stated objectives. By this standard the U.S. and its allies lost the war against Iran, but we were able to negotiate terms that gave only our partial surrender, which forces Iran to at least delay its victory. There have now been three big U.S. strategic defeats over the past several decades: Vietnam, Iraq and now Iran.

The big question is, Why did we lose? Why did the combined powers of the Western world lose to a ragtag regime with a crippled economy and without much popular support?

The first big answer is that the Iranians just wanted victory more than we did. They were willing to withstand the kind of punishment we were prepared to mete out.

Further, the Iranians were confident in their power, while the Obama administration emphasized the limits of America’s ability to influence other nations. It’s striking how little President Obama thought of the tools at his disposal. He effectively took the military option off the table. He didn’t believe much in economic sanctions. . .

Many members of Congress will be tempted to accept the terms of our partial surrender as the least bad option in the wake of our defeat. I get that. But in voting for this deal they may be affixing their names to an arrangement that will increase the chance of more comprehensive war further down the road.

Iran is a fanatical, hegemonic, hate-filled regime. If you think its radicalism is going to be softened by a few global trade opportunities, you really haven’t been paying attention to the Middle East over the past four decades.

There are over 600 online comments so far, and it appears most Times readers do not like reading this in “their” paper, which is supposed to offer only blinkered comfort for their outlook.


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