David Brooks Is An Idiotic, Lying, Disingenuous Asshole
That's right. And, although I don't have any direct evidence of it, I'd be willing to bet that he beats up cute little fuzzy puppies, too.
In an absolutely stunning display of mendacity and intellectual dishonesty, Brooks today compares the upcoming elections in Iraq and Afghanistan to Salvadoran elections in the 1980's
. Brooks plays us all for fools--he doesn't expect any of us to know anything about Salvadoran history (and, indeed, it is doubtful that he knows anything about it, either).
Here's some of his atrocious piece:
Conditions were horrible when Salvadorans went to the polls on March 28, 1982. The country was in the midst of a civil war that would take 75,000 lives. An insurgent army controlled about a third of the nation's territory. Just before election day, the insurgents stepped up their terror campaign. They attacked the National Palace, staged highway assaults that cut the nation in two and blew up schools that were to be polling places.
Yet voters came out in the hundreds of thousands. In some towns, they had to duck beneath sniper fire to get to the polls. In San Salvador, a bomb went off near a line of people waiting outside a polling station. The people scattered, then the line reformed. "This nation may be falling apart," one voter told The Christian Science Monitor, "but by voting we may help to hold it together."
Conditions were scarcely better in 1984, when Salvadorans got to vote again. Nearly a fifth of the municipalities were not able to participate in the elections because they were under guerrilla control. The insurgents mined the roads to cut off bus service to 40 percent of the country. Twenty bombs were planted around the town of San Miguel. Once again, people voted with the sound of howitzers in the background.
Yet these elections proved how resilient democracy is, how even in the most chaotic circumstances, meaningful elections can be held.
They produced a National Assembly, and a president, José Napoleón Duarte. They gave the decent majority a chance to display their own courage and dignity. War, tyranny and occupation sap dignity, but voting restores it.
The elections achieved something else: They undermined the insurgency. El Salvador wasn't transformed overnight. But with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved, and the entire hemisphere felt the effects.
How big of an asshole is Brooks?
A gigantic one.
To begin with, he notes that el Salvador faced and "insurgent army" conducting a "terror campaign." In truth, el Salvador was beset by a bloody, awful, twelve-year-long civil war. There was, to be sure, an "insurgent army," but Brooks doesn't expect you to know that the insurgency (a fancy word for "rebellion" that doesn't have any positive connotations) existed in response to a right-wing military government that lived and breathed oppression. He also doesn't mention that, this being Central America, the right-wing military government was aided and supported by--you guessed it--the United States. As for the "terror campaign," well, as noted, the country was wracked by a civil war, the kind of conflict least known for civility. However, if one is going to count the sins of each side, the "terror campaign" conducted by the military government was one for the record books. Simply look at, say, the el Mozote massacre
, the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero
(who was killed while celebrating mass in the chapel of a cancer hospital, for chrissakes), the rape and murder of four American nuns
, or the tortures at the Mariona prison
. All of these atrocities and terrorist actions are the responsibility of the right-wing government and its notorious death squads, financed, armed, and trained by the United States.
Well, that pretty much takes care of the terror. There is, however, more to say about the insurgency. For example, what about those 1982 and 1984 elections, which Brooks seems to think brought peace to a troubled country (I mention now that Brooks, lying asshole that he is, provides no context of why the country was troubled--it's all about the politics of feudal Central America, coffee, and the Monroe Doctrine, and that's something that you need to look at yourself sometime) and took the fight out of the left-wing rebels. Well, his assertion is bullshit. He tries to paint Duarte as some sort of latter-day Bolivar
, but that's just not the case. Duarte was actually part of the ruling junta for two years, from March 1980 until the elections of March 1982. He joined after a coup overthrew the right-wing military government in 1979. That revolutionary group formed a provisional government for three years, until the country was stable enough to hold elections
. The situation in 1979/1980 was just too damned chaotic to allow for democratic elections. So, in the time of the provisional government, some of the right-wing military types were actually part of the "insurgent army" (Naturally, there wasn't just one--many of the left-wing guerrillas were not happy with the provisional government, and did not lay down their arms--the Duarte junta then used right-wing paramilitary groups to wage war on the recalcitrant guerrillas. Confusing, ain't it?), since the actual authorities were somewhat friendly, at least nominally, to a number of left-wing causes. He didn't just sweep into office in two waves of democracy and then miraculously end the civil war. Duarte joined the successful coup faction once they were in power. A great deal of the bombing and mining and shooting done during the 1982 and 1984 elections was done by the goddamn right-wing death squads that the Reagan Administration supported at every turn. Think about that shit for a minute.
Brooks also doesn't mention that Duarte was forced into exile in the 1970's because of his agitation for democracy. Who was resistant to the will of the people? That's right. The US-backed dictatorship. For the record, Duarte's faction was known as the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). For those of you who, like me, went to public schools, that means that the United States was officially opposed to both Christianity and democracy in el Salvador. USA! USA!
Also, Duarte's elections did not end the war. The war lasted from 1979 to 1992. Duarte's government turned out to be just as godawfully repressive as the previous military rule had been--he could not control the military (his government was, after all, kept in place by the military, with the assent of the large landholders). The guerrillas finally got the upper hand when international and domestic pressure forced the administration of Bush the Smarter to suspend all aid to the right-wing government (that had "won" elections in 1989), after which the rebel armies stepped up their attacks. Forced to deal with the rebels without US aid, the right-wing government of Alfredo Cristiani invited them to the bargaining table (it was either that or be overthrown). They were eventually recognized as legitimate political actors in el Salvador, and the country has been at peace since 1992. Brooks, the colossal shithead, does not mention the suspension of US aid at all. He says that "with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved." Nonsense.
I'll bet that Brooks believes in magic, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy, too. What the fuck? Somehow, elections magically made warring factions weaker? What an asshole. Though he did finally
get around to mentioning the death squads (naturally, he leaves out the little fact that they received over a decade of US support).
Anyway, the situation in el Salvador cannot be compared to the one in Afghanistan or Iraq. Afghanistan is a loose association of often-warring fiefdoms. Hamid Karzai is little more than the mayor of Kabul, and he probably will never be more than that. Speaking of elections there, Bush goes around the country bragging about how over ten million "Afghanis" have registered to vote, but he fails to mention that there are only about 9.5 million eligible voters in the whole country. Oops!
As for Iraq, well, the insurgency there isn't so much directed at an oppressive, right-wing, US-supported government as it is the US army. As we set up our puppet state fully, however, it will absorb more of the attacks. And, when we leave, it will fall. There may be elections in Iraq this winter, but you can guarantee that a US-friendly government will be in power following them.
One more thing--South Vietnam had elections, too. Somehow, our buddies there never lost, even though they were about as popular as an Andre the Giant-administered prostate exam.
David Brooks is an asshole of the highest order. I'll bet he has an eighth-degree black belt in assholery.
In case you want something good to read from today's NYT op-ed page, check out Paul Krugman
. His piece will make you angry, but for different reasons.
Labels: History, Media, right-wing idiocy