Every once in a while something happens so shocking, so inconceivable, that it threatens to remove the last bastions of confidence I have in the federal government. The appointment of Rosa Brooks, the radical left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist, as an advisor to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Fluornoy is one of those moments. And by advisor, I don’t mean someone who talks on an informal basis — I mean a full-time advisor so committed to helping formulate policy that she had to leave her position as a fire-breathing partisan columnist.
It’s frighteningly unclear what caused Brooks to receive the appointment. She’s the author of a book about civil liberties during wartime, is a law professor, and is the director of Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute. But why was Brooks, out of the thousands of legal experts in the country, chosen to become a high-level advisor? What made her so attractive? It can’t be her admittedly impressive resume, as there surely are other equally prestigious advisors available in this country of 300 million people.
Brooks could only have been chosen for the opinions she’s voiced, so it’s fair to ask what positions she has that made her catch the eye of Fluornoy and whoever else recommended her.
Was it her attitude towards the previous administration, which she described as “local authoritarians”? On more than one occasion, she’s questioned the sanity of President Bush, hardly the tone of respect President Obama sought to bring to today’s “broken politics.” In her piece titled “Straightjacket Bush,” Brooks says that the president and vice president should “be treated like psychotics who need treatment.”
Even more alarming are her stances on important national security issues. She opposed the surge, which she says “someday the history books will have harsh words” for. She also charges the Bush administration with exaggerating the threat from al-Qaeda. “At the time, most experts say, this description of al-Qaeda simply wasn’t true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky,” she writes.
Brooks clearly does not see the horrid event as the culmination of a failed approach to a gathering threat, but an occurrence based on chance. Now, “al-Qaeda has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001,” she says, owing it to the neocon administration’s warped reality.
The Israeli offensive in Gaza against Hamas also drew ire from Brooks. “The assault in Gaza has more to do with internal politics than its national security,” she writes, apparently thinking that having neighboring territory controlled by a terrorist group that openly states its desire to destroy Israel isn’t worthy of a military offensive. She opines that a military campaign won’t bring about peace because Hamas will inevitably rearm and such actions create extremism which foments the conflict. If this logic is true, then the U.S. might as well leave Afghanistan and stop any attacks on terrorist targets overseas.
Brooks is also a member of the paranoid opposition — the type of political activist who so dislikes their rivals that they become convinced they are capable of all kinds of evil, reduced to an almost subhuman cornucopia of insanity and deceit. She sounded the alarm that the Bush administration was on the war path with Iran, willing to believe intelligence that incriminated their next target and showcase it to the media to make their case. She cast doubt upon the administration’s claims that the Iranians were helping arm the insurgents, giving the mullahs a benefit of the doubt she would never give the administration.
With Brooks’ appointment, this sentiment has gone from simply foolish and disrespectful to dangerous, as her hyper-partisanship has caused her to assume that one must be mentally ill in order to agree with President Bush’s positions. That sort of arrogance and narrow-mindedness, assuming your opponents’ disagreements can only be attributable to a disorder, is exactly the opposite of the type of minds we need at the Department of Defense.
This isn’t talk radio. This is policy formulation. Unless there’s an undisclosed advisor to Fluornoy of an opposite viewpoint, then a partisan enclave where the far left has a monopoly on intellectual discourse has been created in the Pentagon. For the sake of our national security, we must hope that Fluornoy’s admiration for Brooks’ viewpoints is limited to legal matters and hope that the marketplace of ideas hasn’t been banned from the debate on that issue.
Ironically, Brooks has criticized President Bush’s “cooking of the intelligence books.” If the politicizing of national security is of such a concern to Brooks, she should resign immediately.