What frustrates me about prominent pundits like Brooks is they talk about America's faltering will to lead the free world as though the state of the national character is something separate from themselves when, in fact, pundits like Brooks are instrumental in the competitive social politics that shape the national character, no more pivotally than when the popular narrative of the American-led Iraq compliance enforcement and peace-building mission was in the balance.
In August 2004, liberal Bush critic Tom Junod recognized the essential principles at stake in the Iraq intervention and described the pivotal importance of the prevailing narrative in "The Case for George W. Bush, i.e., what if he's right?":
... war is undertaken at the risk of the national soul. The moral certainty that makes war possible is certain only to unleash moral havoc, and moral havoc becomes something the nation has to rise above. We can neither win a war nor save the national soul if all we seek is to remain unsullied—pristine. Anyway, we are well beyond that now. The question is not, and has never been, whether we can fight a war without perpetrating outrages of our own. The question is whether the rightness of the American cause is sufficient not only to justify war but to withstand war's inevitable outrages. The question is whether—if the cause is right—we are strong enough to make it remain right in the foggy moral battleground of war.The prevailing of the revisionist anti-liberal narrative against the Iraq mission is patient zero for the deficient American leadership in competition that's troubling Brooks. When pundits conceded the false narrative stigmatizing OIF, the will of the American people to effectually enforce liberal world order as the leader of the free world followed suit and fell.
The necessary foundation-fixing step for "saving the system" is prominent pundits like David Brooks correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission.
The 1990-2011 UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement and peace operations with Iraq were the defining American intervention of the post-Cold War and 9/11 era. The Iraq mission activated all the elements of American leadership essential for the pluralistic liberal world order to compete for dominance in the geopolitical arena. Therefore, the stigmatization of the Iraq mission with the prevailing false narrative has undermined the fundamental premises of the American-led pluralistic liberal world order. Correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission is necessary to reestablish the sure American leadership of the free world that manifested with Iraq under President Bush.
I started reading the comments to Brooks's column, but I had to stop after two because of course the NY Times' readers blame President Bush despite that Bush reacted to 9/11 and acted to resolve the Saddam problem properly, and moved to reinvigorate the Western coalition.
The blame for the weakened West is not with Bush. Rather, the blame properly lies with the betrayers who subverted American foreign affairs under Bush for partisan gain by adopting our competitors' propaganda with compounding harmful effects. Yet with their typical sociopathic gall, the betrayers responsible for sabotaging the national character instead blame the consequences of their malfeasance on President Bush, the same American leader who tried his best after 9/11 to rally the West for the contest. The Faustian reward for their treachery was winning political control of America. The damaging consequences, described by Brooks, of having the betrayers in charge of America have been predictable.