David Brooks once called John Kerry "a fraud with a manly bearing." He made fun of him for correctly understanding the nature of terrorism–that it wasn’t a question of armies and generals and nation states, but rather a matter of politics, and of course, law and order. Now this:
The war on terror has shredded the reputation of the Bush administration. It’s destroyed the reputation of Tony Blair’s government in Britain, Ehud Olmert’s government in Israel and Nuri al-Maliki’s government in Iraq. And here’s a prediction: It will destroy future American administrations, and future Israeli, European and world governments as well.
That’s because setbacks in the war on terror don’t only flow from the mistakes of individual leaders and generals. They’re structural. Thanks to a series of organizational technological innovations, guerrilla insurgencies are increasingly able to take on and defeat nation-states.
So he was wrong. But it turns out that it wasn’t anyone’s fault after all. Not so. The mistakes in Iraq–and in Afghanistan–flow from one single source–the commander guy. Had he not envisioned the whole thing–wrongly–as an epic battle between good and evil, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now. And it seems wrong therefore to call all insurgency, as Brooks does, "war on terror." If you take what he says seriously, that’s the problem.