Sunday, March 10, 2024

Speaking of Which

Once again, started early in the week, spent most of my time here, didn't get to everything I usually cover. Late Sunday night, figured I should go ahead and kick this out. Monday updates possible.

Indeed, I wasted most of Monday adding things, some of which, contrary to my usual update discipline, only appeared on Monday. The most interesting I'll go ahead and mention here:

  • Alexander Ward/Jonathan Lemire: [03-11] If Israel invades Rafah, Biden will consider conditioning military aid to Israel. There are several articles below suggesting that the Biden administration is starting to show some discomfort with its Israeli masters. I've generally made light of such signals, as they've never threatened consequences or even been unambiguously uttered in public. I've seen several more suggesting that the long promised invasion of Rafah -- the last corner of Gaza where some two million people have been driven into -- could cross some kind of "red line."

    I am willing to believe that "Genocide Joe" is a bit unfair: that while he's not willing to stand up to Netanyahu, he's not really comfortable with the unbounded slaughter and mass destruction Israel is inflicting. I characterize his pier project below as "passive-aggressive." I think he's somehow trying (but way too subtly) to make Israel's leaders realize that their dream of killing and/or expelling everyone from Gaza isn't going to be allowed, so at some point they're going to have to relent, and come up with some way of living with the survivors.

I don't recall where, but I think I've seen some constructive reaction from Biden to the "uncommitted" campaign that took 13% of Michigan and 18% of Minnesota votes. So it's possible that the message is getting through even if the raw numbers are still far short of overwhelming. The Israel Lobby has so warped political space in Washington that few politicians can as much as imagine how out of touch and tone-deaf they've become on this issue.

Still, Biden has a lot of fence-mending to do.

I'll try not to add more, but next week will surely come around, bringing more with it.

Initial count: 181 links, 7,582 words. Updated count [03-11]: 207 links, 9,444 words.

Top story threads:

Not sure where to put this, so how about here?

  • Jacob Bogage: [03-08] Government shutdown averted as Senate passes $459 billion funding bill: In other words, Republicans once again waited until the last possible moment, then decided not to pull the trigger in their Russian roulette game over the budget. It seems be an unwritten rule that in electing Mike Johnson as Speaker, the extreme-right gets support for everything except shutting down the government.


Israel vs. world opinion: Note that Biden's relief scheme for Gaza, announced in his State of the Union address, has been moved into its own sandbox, farther down, next to other Biden/SOTU pieces.

  • Kyle Anzalone: [03-07] South Africa urges ICJ for emergency order as famine looms over Gaza.

  • James Bamford: [03-06] Time is running out to stop the carnage in Gaza: "Given the toll from bombing and starvation, Gaza will soon become the world's largest unmarked grave." Actually, time ran out sometime in the first week after Oct. 7, when most Americans -- even many on the left who had become critical of Israeli apartheid -- were too busy competing in their denunciations of Hamas to notice how the Netanyahu government was clearly intent to commit genocide. At this point, the carnage is undeniable -- perhaps the only question is when the majority of the killing will shift (or has shifted) from arms to environmental factors (including starvation), because the latter are relatively hard to count (or are even more likely to be undercounted). Of course, stopping the killing is urgent, no matter how many days we fail.

  • Greer Fay Cashman: [03-07] President Herzog faces calls for arrest on upcoming Netherlands visit.

  • Jonathan Cook: [03-07] How the 'fight against antisemitism' became a shield for Israel's genocide.

  • Richard Falk: [02-25] In Gaza, the west is enabling the most transparent genocide in human history.

  • Noah Feldman: [03-05] How Oct. 7 is forcing Jews to reckon with Israel. Excerpt from his new book, To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People.

  • Daniel Finn: [03-07] Slaughter in Gaza has discredited Britain's political class.

  • Fred Kaplan: [03-06] Four things that will have to happen for the Israel-Hamas war to end: I have a lot of respect for Kaplan as an analyst of such matters, but the minimal solution he's created is impossible. His four things?

    1. The Hamas leadership has to surrender or go into exile. ("Qatar will have to crack down on Hamas, or perhaps provide its military leaders refuge in exchange for their departure from Gaza.")
    2. "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Sunni powers in the region will have to help rebuild Gaza and foster new, more moderate political leaders."
    3. "Israel will at least have to say that it favors the creation of a Palestinian state and to take at least a small movement in that direction." Why anyone should believe Israel in this isn't explained.
    4. "The United States will have to serve as some sort of guarantor to all of this -- and not only for Israel."

    In other words, every nation in the region has to bend to Israel's stubborn insistence that they have to maintain control over every inch of Gaza, even though they've made it clear they'd prefer for everyone living there to depart or die. In any such scenario, it is inevitable that resistance will resurface to again threaten Israel's security, no matter how many layers of proxies are inserted, and no matter how systematically Israel culls its "militants." Short of a major sea change in Israeli opinion -- which is a prospect impossible to take seriously, at least in the short term -- there is only one real solution possible, which is for Israel to disown Gaza. Israel can continue to maintain its borders, its Iron Walls and Iron Domes, and can threaten massive retaliation if anyone on the Gaza side of the border attacks them. (This can even include nuclear, if that's the kind of people they are.) But Israel no longer gets any say in how the people of Gaza live. From that point, Israel is out of the picture, and Gaza has no reason to risk self-destruction by making symbolic gestures.

    That still leaves Gaza with a big problem -- just not an Israel problem. That is because Israel has rendered Gaza uninhabitable, at least for the two million people still stuck there. Those people need massive aid, and even so many of them probably need to move elsewhere, at least temporarily. Without Israel to fight, Hamas instantly becomes useless. They will release their hostages, and disband. Some may go into exile. The rest may join in rebuilding, ultimately organized under a local democracy, which would have no desire let alone capability to threaten Israel. This is actually very simple, as long as outside powers don't try to corrupt the process by recruiting local cronies (a big problem in the region, with the US, its Sunni allies, Iran, its Shiite friends, Turkey, and possibly others serial offenders).

    Sure, this would leave Israel with a residual Palestinian problem elsewhere: both with its second- and lesser-class citizens and wards, and with its still numerous external refugees. But that problem has not yet turned genocidal (although it's getting close, and is clearly possible as long as Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are part of Israel's ruling coalition). But there is time to work on that, especially once Israel is freed from the burden and horror of genocide in Gaza. There are lots of ideas that could work as solutions, but they all ultimately to accepting that everyone, regardless of where they live, should enjoy equal rights and opportunities. That will be a tough pill for many Israelis to swallow, but is the only one that will ultimately free them from the internecine struggle Israelis and Palestinians have been stuck with for most of a century. There's scant evidence that most Israelis want that kind of security, so people elsewhere will need to continue with BDS-like strategies of persuasion. But failure to make progress will just expose Israelis to revolts like they experienced on Oct. 7, and Palestinians to the immiseration and gloom they've suffered so often over many decades decades.

  • Colbert I King: [03-08] The United States cannot afford to be complicit in Gaza's tragedy: True or not, isn't it a bit late to think of this?

  • Nicholas Kristof: [03-19] 'People are hoping that Israel nukes us so we get rid of this pain': Texts with a Gazan acquaintance named Esa Alshannat, not Hamas, but after Israeli soldiers left an area, found "dead, rotten and half eaten by wild dogs." Kristof explains: "Roughly 1 percent of Gaza's people today are Hamas fighters. To understand what the other 99 percent are enduring, as the United States supplies weapons for this war and vetoes cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations, think of Alshannat and multiply him by two million."

  • Debbie Nathan:

  • Vivian Nereim: [03-10] As Israel's ties to Arab countries fray, a stained lifeline remains: The United Arab Emirates is still on speaking terms with Israel, but doesn't have much to show for their solicitude.

  • Ilan Pappé: [02-01] It is dark before the dawn, but Israeli settler colonialism is at an end.

  • Mitchell Plitnick: [03-07] Replacing Netanyahu with Gantz won't fix the problem.

  • Rebecca Lee Sanchez: [03-06] Gaza's miracle of the manna: Aid and the American God complex.

  • Philip Weiss:

  • Brett Wilkins: [03-06] AIPAC's dark money arm unleashes $100 million: "Amid the Netanyahu government's assault on Gaza and intensifying repression in the West Bank, AIPAC is showing zero tolerance for even the mildest criticism of Israel during the 2024 US elections."

America's increasingly desperate and pathetic empire: I started this section to separate out stories on how the US was expanding its operations in the Middle East, ostensibly to deter regional adversaries from attacking Israel while Israel was busy with its genocide in Gaza. At the time, it seemed like Israel was actively trying to promote a broader war, partly to provide a distraction from its own focus (much as WWII served to shield the Holocaust), and partly to give the Americans something else to focus on. Israel tried selling this as a "seven-front war" -- a line that Thomas Friedman readily swallowed, quickly recovering from his initial shock at Israel's overreaction in Gaza -- but with neither Iran nor the US relishing what Israel imagined to be the main event, thus far only the Houthis in Yemen took the bait (where US/UK reprisals aren't much of a change from what the Saudis had been doing, with US help, for years). So this section has gradually been taken over by more general articles on America's imperial posture (with carve outs for the still-raging wars in Israel/Gaza and Ukraine/Russia.

  • Ramzy Baroud:

    • [03-04] To defend Israel's actions, the US is destroying the int'l legal system it once constructed: I'm not sure that the US ever supported any sort of international justice system. The post-WWII trials in Japan and Germany were rigged to impose "victor's justice." The UN started as a victors' club, with Germany and Japan excluded, and the Security Council was designed so small states couldn't gang up on the powers. And when Soviet vetoes precluded using the UN as a cold war tool, the US invented various "coalitions of the willing" to rubber-stamp policy. The US never recognized independent initiatives like the ICJ, although the US supports using the ICJ where it's convenient, like against Russia in Ukraine. The only "rules-based order" the US supports is its own, and even there its blind support for Israel arbitrary and capricious -- subject to no rules at all, only the whims of Netanyahu.

    • [03-08] On solidarity and Kushner's shame: How Gaza defeated US strategem, again.

  • Mac William Bishop: [02-23] American idiots kill the American century: "After decades of foreign-policy bungling and strategic defeats, the US has never seemed weaker -- and dictators around the world know it."

  • Christopher Caldwell: [03-09] This prophetic academic now foresees the West's defeat: On French historian/political essayist Emmanuel Todd, who claims to have been the first to predict the demise of the Soviet Union (see his The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere, from 1976), has a new book called La Défaite de l'Occident. Caldwell, who has a book called The Age of Entitlement, seems to be an unconventional conservative, so even when he has seeming insights it's hard to trust them. Even harder to get a read on Todd. (The NYTimes' insistence on "Mr." at every turn has never been more annoying.) But their skepticism of Biden et al. on Ukraine/Russia is certainly warranted. By the way, here are some old Caldwell pieces:

  • Brian Concannon: [03-08] US should let Haiti reclaim its democracy.

  • Gregory Elich: [03-08] How Madeleine Albright got the war the US wanted: NATO goes on the warpath, initially in Yugoslavia, then . . . "the opportunity to expand Western domination over other nations."

  • Tom Engelhardt: [03-05] A big-time war on terror: Living on the wrong world: "A planetary cease fire is desperately needed."

  • Connor Freeman: [03-07] Biden's unpopular wars reap mass death and nuclear brinkmanship.

  • Marc Martorell Junyent: [03-07] Tempest in a teapot: British illusions and American hegemony from Iraq to Yemen. Review of Tom Stevenson's book, Someone Else's Empire: British Illusions and American Hegemony.

  • Joshua Keating: [03-09] The Houthis have the world's attention -- and they won't give it up: "What do Yemen's suddenly world-famous rebels really want, and what will make them stop?" One lesson here is that deterrence only works if it threatens a radical break from the status quo. The Saudis, with American support, have been bombing the Houthis for more than a decade now, causing great hardship for the Yemeni people, but hardly moving the needle on Houthi political power. So how much worse would it get if they picked a fight with Israel's proxy navy? Moreover, by standing up to Israel and its unwitting allies, they gain street cred and a claim to the moral high ground. For similar reasons, sanctions are more likely to threaten nations that aren't used to them. Once you're under sanctions, which with the US tends to be a life sentence, what difference does a few more make? It's too late for mere threats to change the behavior of Yemen, Iran, North Korea, and/or Russia -- though maybe not to affect powers whose misbehaviors have thus far escaped American sanctions, like Israel and Saudi Arabia. But for the rest, to effect change, you need to do something positive, to give them some motivation and opportunity to change. In many cases, that shouldn't even be hard. Just try to do the right thing. Respect the independence of others. Look for mutual benefits, like in trade. Help them help their own people. And stop defending genocide.

  • Nan Levinson: [03-07] The enticements of war (and peace).

  • Blaise Malley: [03-06] Opportunity calls as Cold War warriors exit the stage: "Will Mitch McConnell's replacement represent the old or new guard in his party's foreign policy?"

  • Paul R Pillar: [03-06] Why Netanyahu is laughing all the way to the bank: "David Petraeus said recently that US leverage on Israel to do the right thing in Gaza is 'overestimated' -- that's just not true."

  • Robert Wright: [03-08] The real problem with the Trump-Biden choice: This piece is far-reaching enough I could have slotted it anywhere, but it has the most bearing here: the problem is how much Trump and Biden have in common, especially where it comes to foreign affairs: "America First" may seem like a different approach from Biden's, but the latter is just a slightly more generous and less intemperate variation, as both start from the assumption that America is and must be the leader, and everyone else needs to follow in line. Trump thinks he can demand the other pay tribute; Biden possibly knows better, but his pursuit of arms deals makes me wonder. Wright cites a piece by Adam Tooze I can't afford or find, quoting it only up to the all-important "but" after which the Trump-Biden gap narrows. While I'm sure Tooze has interesting things to say, Wright's efforts to steer foreign policy thinking away from the zero-sum confrontations of the Metternich-to-Kissinger era are the points to consider.

  • Fareed Zakaria: [03-08] Amid the horror in Gaza, it's easy to miss that the Middle East has changed.

Election notes: Sixteen states and territories voted for president on Super Tuesday, mostly confirming what we already knew. Biden won everywhere (except American Samoa), even over "uncommitted" (which mostly got a push from those most seriously upset over his support for Israeli genocide). Trump won everywhere -- except in Vermont, narrowly to Nikki Haley, who nonetheless shuttered her campaign (but hasn't yet endorsed Trump). Dean Phillips dropped out of the Democratic race after getting 8% in his home state of Minnesota and 9% in Oklahoma. He endorsed Biden. I'm not very happy with any of the news summaries I've seen, but here are a few to skim through: 538; AP; Ballotpedia; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; Guardian; NBC News; New York Times; Politico; USA Today; Washington Post. One quote I noticed (from CNN) was from a "reluctant Democrat" in Arizona: "It's hard to vote for someone with multiple felony charges; and it's also very hard to vote for someone that is pro-genocide."

  • Michael C Bender: [03-06] How Trump's crushing primary triumph masked quiet weaknesses: "Even though he easily defeated Nikki Haley, the primary results suggested that he still has long-term problems with suburban voters, moderates, and independents."

  • Aaron Blake: [03-08] The Texas GOP purge and other below-the-radar Super Tuesday nuggets.

  • Nate Cohn: [03-07] Where Nikki Haley won and what it means: Inside the Beltway (61%), Home base and Mountain West cities (57%), Vermont (56%), University towns (56%), Resort towns (55%): In other words, the sorts of places that would automatically disqualify one as a Real Republican.

  • Antonia Hitchens: [03-06] Watching Super Tuesday returns at Mar-a-Lago.

  • Ro Khanna: [03-07] The message from Michigan couldn't be more clear: Actually, these figures (see Nichols below) are hardly enough for a bump in the road to Biden's reelection -- unlike, say, Eugene McCarthy's New Hampshire showing in 1968, where Lyndon Johnson got the message clearly enough to give up his campaign. What they do show is that the near-unanimity of Democratic politicians in support of Israel is not shared by the rank and file.

  • Adam Nagourney/Shane Goldmacher: [03-09] The Biden-Trump rerun: A nation craving change gets more of the same: I bypassed this first time around, but maybe we should offer some kind of reward for the week's most inane opinion piece. Wasn't Nagourney a finalist in one of those hack journalists playoffs? (If memory serves -- why the hell can't I just google this? -- he finished runner-up to Karen Tumulty.)

  • John Nichols: [03-05] Gaza is on the ballot all over America: "Inspired by Michigan's unexpectedly high 'uncommitted' vote, activists across the country are now mounting campaigns to send Biden a pro-cease-fire message." Uncommitted slate votes thus far (from NYTimes link, above): Minnesota: 18.9%; Michigan: 13.2%; North Carolina: 12.7%; Massachusetts: 9.4%; Colorado: 8.1%; Tennessee: 7.9%; Alabama: 6.0%; Iowa: 3.9%.

  • Alexander Sammon:

    • [03-09] Katie Porter said her Senate primary was "rigged." Let's discuss! "Her complaint was kind of MAGA-coded. But it wasn't entirely wrong." Adam Schiff had a huge fundraising advantage over Porter, as Porter did over the worthier still Barbara Lee. This is one of the few pieces I've found that looks into where that money came from (AIPAC chipped in $5 million; a crypto-backed PAC doubled that), and how it was used, explained in more depth in the following:

    • [03-05] Democrats have turned to odd, cynical tactics to beat one another in California's Senate race. Schiff wound up spending a lot of money not trying to win Democrats over from Porter and Lee -- something that might require explaining why he supported the Iraq War (which itself partly explains why he got all that AIPAC money) -- but instead spent millions raising Republican Steve Garvey's profile. In the end, Schiff was so successful he lost first place to Garvey (on one but not both of the contests: one to finish Feinstein's term, one for the six year term that follows), but at least he got past Porter and Lee, turning the open primary into a traditional R-D contest (almost certainly D in California).

  • Michael Scherer: [03-08] Inside No Labels decision to plow ahead with choosing presidential candidates: "The group announced on a call with supporters Friday plans to announce a selection process for their third-party presidential ticket on March 14 with a nomination by April." More No Labels:

  • Li Zhou: [03-06] Jason Palmer, the guy who beat Biden in American Samoa, briefly explained.

Trump, and other Republicans:

Biden's band-aid folly: Unveiled in Biden's State of the Union address, q.v., but for this week, let's give it its own section:

  • Alex Horton: [03-08] How the US military will use a floating pier to deliver Gaza aid: "Construction will take up to two months and require 1,000 US troops who will remain off shore, officials say. Once complete, it will enable delivery of 2 million meals daily."

  • Jonathan Cook: [03-10] Biden's pier-for-Gaza is hollow gesture.

  • Kareem Fahim/Hazem Balousha: [03-08] Biden plan to build Gaza port, deliver aid by sea draws skepticism, ridicule. Sounds like they had a contest to come up with the most expensive, least efficient method possible to trickle life-sustaining aid into Gaza, without in any way inhibiting Israel's systematic slaughter.

  • Miriam Berger/Sufian Taha/Heidi Levine/Loveday Morris: [03-05] The improbable US plan for a revitalized Palestinian security force: Because the US did such a great job of training the Afghan security force?

  • Noga Tarnopolsky: [03-09] The Biden plan to ditch Netanyahu: "The 'come to Jesus moment' is already here, according to Israeli and US sources." I don't give this report much credit, but it stands to reason that eventually Biden will tire of Netanyahu jerking him around just so he can further embarrass both countries with what is both in intent and effect genocide. I do see ways in which Biden's initial subservience is evolving into some kind of passive-aggressive resistance. Rather than denounce Israel for making reasonable aid possible, Biden has challenged Israel to spell out what they would allow, and agreed even as these schemes are patently ridiculous. It's only a matter of time until Israel starts attacking American aid providers. For another piece:

  • Zack Beauchamp: [03-08] Are Biden and the Democrats finally turning on Israel? "Biden's new plan to build a pier on the Gaza coast seems to say yes. The continued military aid to Israel says otherwise."

Biden's State of the Union speech: A section for everything else related, including official and unofficial Republican responses:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

  • Elie Honig: [03-08] Biden's looming nightmare pardons: Ever since this "former federal and state prosecutor" started writing for Intelligencer, his pieces have sounded like stealth briefs from the Trump legal team, even if not things they would actually want to own. This one at least assumes things not yet in evidence: that Trump is actually tried and convicted and sentenced to jail time -- the power may be to pardon, but all he's asking for is commutation of prison time, not full pardons. As that's increasingly unlikely before November, the assumption may also be that Biden wins then, so has some breathing room before having to consider the issue, which would leave plenty of time for this discussion, unlike now.

  • Josh Kovensky: [03-05] Feds slap 12 new counts on Bob 'Gold Bars' Menendez: Senator (D-NJ).

  • Ian Millhiser: [03-10] Do Americans still have a right to privacy? "With courts coming for abortion and IVF, it's hard not to wonder what the Supreme Court will go after next."

Climate, environment, and energy:

Ukraine War:

Around the world:

Other stories:

Michelle Alexander: [03-08] Only revolutionary love can save us now: "Martin Luther King Jr's 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War offers a powerful moral compass as we face the challenges of our time."

Indivar Dutta-Gupta/Korian Warren: [03-04] The war on poverty wasn't enough: "While Lyndon B Johnson's effort made some lasting impacts, the United States still has some of the highest rates of nonelderly poverty among wealthy nations." As the article notes, Johnson's programs brought big improvements, but the Vietnam War hurt him politically, and his successors lost interest: e.g., Nixon's appointment of Donald Rumsfeld to run the Office of Economic Opportunity. And while Republicans deserve much of the blame, Democrats like Daniel Moynahan and Bill Clinton were often as bad, sometimes worse.

Henry Farrell: [02-27] Dr. Pangloss's Panopticon: A very thoughtful critique of Noah Smith's "quite negative review of a recent book by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson, Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology & Prosperity. There are complex issues at dispute here, many much more interesting than those that dominate this (and all recent) posts. Dr. Pangloss (from Voltaire) stands in for techno-optimism: the idea that unfettered innovation, accelerated as it is through modern venture capitalism, promises to deliver ever-improving worlds. Panopticon (from Jeremy Bentham) is an early form of mass surveillance, a capability that technology has done much to develop recently, with AI promising a breakthrough to the bottleneck problem (the time and people you need to surveil other people).

Luke Goldstein: [02-23] Crunch time for government spying: "Congress has a few weeks left until a key spying provision sunsets. Both reformers and intelligence hawks are plotting their strategies."

Oshan Jarow: [03-08] The world's mental health is in rough shape -- and not getting any better: "Guess where the US ranks?"

Sarah Kaplan: [03-06] Are we living in an 'Age of Humans'? Geologists say no. A recent proposal for delineating a stratigraphic boundary for the Anthropocene, based on "a plume of radioactive plutonium that circled around the world" in 1952, was proposed recently and, at least for now, voted down. More:

Alvaro Lopez: [03-08] The making of Frantz Fanon: Review of Adam Shatz's new book, The Rebel's Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon. Also:

Rick Perlstein: [03-06] The spectacle of policing: "'Swatting' innocent people is the latest incarnation of the decades-long gestation of an infrastructure of fear."

Dave Phillipps: [03-06] Profound damage found in Maine gunman's brain, possibly from blasts: "A laboratory found a pattern of cell damage that has been seen in veterans exposed to weapons blasts, and said it probably played a role in symptoms the gunman displayed before the shooting." Robert Card was a grenade instructor in the Army Reserve for eight years. He went on to shoot and kill 18 people and himself. Something not yet factored into the "Costs of War" accounting. Another report:

Jeffrey St Clair: [03-08] Roaming Charges: Too obvious to be real.

I ran across a link to this David Brooks [02-08]: Trump came for their party but took over their souls. A normal person would have little trouble writing a column under that headline. Even Brooks hits some obvious points, like: "Democracy is for suckers"; "Entertainment over governance"; and "Lying is normal." But the one that really upsets Brooks is: "America would be better off in a post-American world." The other maxim that Brooks castigates Trump for is "Foreigners don't matter." This leads to his rant against "isolationism," which inevitably devolves into invoking the spectre of Neville Chamberlain.

Brooks celebrates the triumph of Eisenhower over Taft in 1952, when "the GOP became an internationalist party and largely remained that way for six decades" -- glorious years that spread capitalist exploitation to the far corners of the globe, transforming colonies into cronies ruled by debt penury, policed by "forever wars" and, wherever the occasion arose, ruthless counterrevolutions and civil wars.

Meanwhile, instead of enjoying the wealth this foreign policy generated, America's middle class -- the solid burghers and union workers who, as Harry Truman put it, "voted Democratic to live like Republicans" -- got ground down into their own penury. The Cold War was always as much about fighting democracy at home as it was about denying socialism abroad, much as the "war on terror" was mostly just an authoritarian tantrum directed against anyone who failed to submit to America's globe-spanning military colossus.

Sure, it is an irony that blows Brooks' mind that it now seems to be the Republicans -- the party that most celebrates rapacious capitalism, is most devoutly committed to authoritarian rule, and whose people are most callously indifferent to the cries of those harmed by their greed -- should be the first give up on the game.

Of course, they weren't. The left, or "premature antifascists" (as the OSS referred to us in the 1940s, before "communists and fellow travelers" proved to be a more effective slur), knew this all along, but that insight came from caring about what happens to others, and solidarity in what we sensed was a common struggle. It took Republicans much longer to realize that globalized capitalism, under the aegis of American military power, not only didn't work for them personally, but that it directly led to jobs moving overseas, and all kinds of foreigners flooding America. And since Republicans had put so much propaganda effort into stoking racism and reaction, not least by blaming Democrats (with their "open borders" and focus on wars as "humanitarian") for loving foreigners more than their own people.

I was pointed to Brooks' piece by a pair of tweets: Simon Schama linked, adding: "Heartfelt obituary by David Brooks for the expiring of last vestiges of the Republican Party. No longer has supporters but 'an audience.' Lying normalised. Total abandonment of internationalism." To which, Sam Hasselby added:

People have really memory-holed the whole Iraq catastrophe which is in fact what normalized a new scale of lying and impunity in American politics. It was also a lie which cost $7 trillion dollars, killed one million innocent Iraqis, and displaced 37 million people.

Yet Iraq War boosters like Brooks still have major mainstream media gigs, while Adam Schiff trounced Barbara Lee (the only member of Congress to vote against the whole War on Terror) in a Democratic primary, and Joe Biden became president -- finally giving up the 20-year disaster in Afghanistan, only to wholeheartedly embrace new, but already even more disastrous, wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

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