I haven’t toyed with David Brooks’s earnest offerings in a long time (perhaps not since “Babbling Brooks” in 2016). But it’s hard to resist a pot-shot at a sitting duck, which is what Brooks simulates in his encomium to the “liberal world order” (which is the subtext of this post and this one). Specifically, Brooks writes tearfully that
Americans take a dark view of human nature and withdraw from the world. Wolves like Putin and Xi fill the void and make bad things happen, confirming the dark view and causing even more withdrawal.
Americans (conservatives, at least) rightly take a dark view of human nature, but what does that have to do with “withdrawing from the world”? What serious (conservative) Americans want isn’t withdrawal, it is two connected things: security from military blackmail and defense of legitimate overseas interests, the most important of which is trade with other countries (on legitimate terms).
Those things don’t require meddling in other people’s business, which is what most Americans rightly reject. They require robust military forces, and a demonstrated willingness to apply them. Brooks, in his usual way, omits the obvious and correct view of what (most) Americans want because he is “conservative” only by the standards of The New York Times.