Yesterday, Media Matters observed that on this week’s Meet the Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks admitted to using a made-up statistic in order to argue against withdrawal from Iraq.
Specifically, Brooks rehashed the right-wing talking point that withdrawal in Iraq would certainly lead to “genocide,” alleging that 10,000 Iraqis a month would die after redeployment. But Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward quickly forced Brooks’ to admit his statistics were baseless:
BOB WOODWARD: I mean, you cite numbers which you have pulled out of the air of 10,000 dying. I mean, that’s–that–where does that come from? […]
DAVID BROOKS: So I just picked that 10,000 out of the air.
As Woodward noted, what happens after the U.S. withdraws is deeply speculative. Time Magazine notes today, “just how many Iraqis would die if the U.S. withdrew is anyone’s guess” and advocates a phased withdrawal as the best option. “Some experts believe Iraqis would, after a brief explosion of violence, regain control of their country.”
In fact, numerous military and diplomatic analysts argue that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq could “prevent Iraq’s multiple sectarian conflicts from spreading beyond its borders and gives Iraq and its neighbors the right incentive to help resolve Iraq’s internal conflicts.”
Brooks has long been a ready advocate of Bush’s foreign policy failures. In January, he defended Bush’s rosy whitewashing of Iraq war history as “accurate.” Last week, he walked away from a meeting with the President entranced by Bush’s “unconquerable faith in the rightness of his Big Idea.”
While Brooks recently complained that he was “so confused” about what to do in Iraq, we can be sure that he will conjure up fallacies to defend the President.
MR. BROOKS: On the other hand, if we leave…MR. WOODWARD: Glide plane.
MR. BROOKS: Well, if we leave, we could see 250,000 Iraqis die. You had the John Burns’ quotation earlier in the program. So are we willing to prevent 10,000 Iraqi deaths a month at the cost of 125 Americans? That’s a tough moral issue, but it’s also a tough national interest issue because we don’t know what the consequences of getting out are. And the frustration of watching the debate in Washington, very few people are willing to, to grapple with those two facts, that there’s–that the surge will not work in the short-term, but getting out will be cataclysmic. And you see politicians on both sides evading one of those two facts. But you’ve got to grapple with them both.
MR. WOODWARD: And the problem, though, is, we don’t know. People can say, “Oh, it’s going to be a disaster.”
MR. BROOKS: Uh-huh.
MR. WOODWARD: I mean, you cite numbers which you have pulled out of the air of 10,000 dying. I mean, that’s–that–where does that come from?
MR. BROOKS: Well, A, it comes from John Burns. Second, it comes from the national intelligence…
MR. WOODWARD: Well, no, he doesn’t say 10,000.
MR. BROOKS: Well, no, no, but it talks about genocide.
MR. WOODWARD: Yeah.
MR. BROOKS: So I just picked that 10,000 out of the air.