Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11 retrospective: Shields and Brooks find something meaningful to say about 9/11

I'll forgo my usual introductory carping about the conventionality of Sleepy Mark Shields and David "Bobo" Brooks. It's still there in their 09/09/2011 PBS Newshour appearance, Shields, Brooks on Obama's Jobs Speech, Perry's Debate Debut. Okay, I'll carp a bit. Sleep Mark doesn't seem to have noticed that President Obama has proposed cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits earlier this year, proposed cutting Medicare again in his Thursday jobs speech and is floating benefit cuts for Social Security again. But I was struck by their comments on the 9/11 anniversary.

Bobo surprised me again this week by saying something I wonder if he really intended to say:

I would just emphasize some of the positive things that have happened since 9/11 because of U.S. actions. Saddam is out. Gadhafi is out, not all because of U.S. actions. Taliban is out. Mubarak is out. There has been a change in the world. Al-Qaida has been destroyed. We haven't been attacked again. And so I would say it's at least a mixed blessing and that, after 9/11, the Middle East is in a period of turmoil, could turn out bad, could turn out good. [my emphasis]
Say what? "Al-Qaida has been destroyed." Say what?!? The massive terrible Terrorist Menace that we have to spend half the military budgets of the world to fight doesn't exist anymore? He's right, of course. There's little if anything left of Bin Laden original Al Qa'ida group, at least from what we can tell from the confused and often deeply self-interested news we get on the subject.

Shields has always been decent on the Iraq War, even as most of his political analysis has slid into mind-numbing conventional wisdom, albeit with a consistent Democratic Establishment twist. He challenged Bobo's otherwise bland Profound Reflection on 9/11 this way:

I think that to use 9/11 as a justification for going to war against Saddam Hussein is indefensible. It was indefensible then is indefensible against -- war on Iraq and a war of occupation. The United States now has two wars of occupation 10 years later.

I think Afghanistan, you could certainly make the case, after the attack of 9/11, that that was necessary and required. There was a sense of national unity and solidarity and compassion that existed in this country after 9/11, which is gone. It's no longer, no longer with us.

The United States' standing in the world, that sense of solidarity with the United States and support for the United States after the terrible events of 9/11 has been allowed to go away. I agree with David about the Arab spring. And I think it is encouraging, and I -- but I don't think that going to Iraq is an instrument of it.
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