The Best and the Brightest... Again

NEW ORLEANS -- It's not as if the U.S. isn't sufficiently anti-intellectual (see the Climate-gate "scandal", e.g.), but we have been led into three consecutive neo-imperial expeditions since the 1950s, and the trumpets for each one have been blown by the nation's national defense intellectuals -- what David Halberstam called, in his history of the Vietnam adventure, "the best and the brightest".

The neocon think-tankers who clustered in D.C. in the late '90s and began banging the drum for an invasion of Iraq were, aside from their professed ideology, not that different from the "tough-minded liberals" who pushed Kennedy, and then LBJ, into the rice paddies and jungles of Southeast Asia. In this Saturday's edition of the The Guardian Indian writer Pankaj Mishra gives this notion its clearest, and most frightening twist.