Every once in a while I read Thomas Friedman. Usually I regret it. But his Dec 1 column… wow! He sounds delusional, even for him. Check this out. Here’s the first good quote:
If we become weak and enfeebled by economic decline and debt, as we slowly are, America may not be able to play its historic stabilizing role in the world.
A stabilizing role? America? Really?
A then there’s this:
The reason there are so many frustrated and angry people in the Arab-Muslim world [sic], lashing out first at their own governments and secondarily at us — and volunteering for “martyrdom” — is because of the context within which they live their lives. That was best summarized by the U.N.’s Arab Human Development reports as a context dominated by three deficits: a deficit of freedom, a deficit of education and a deficit of women’s empowerment. The reason India, with the world’s second-largest population of Muslims, has a thriving Muslim minority (albeit with grievances but with no prisoners in Guantánamo Bay) is because of the context of pluralism and democracy it has built at home.
Hm. Maybe the reason India doesn’t have prisoners in Guantanamo is because we didn’t invade India and throw a bunch of their citizens, many of whom committed no crime, into that prison. Besides, that’s a pretty weak argument. Isn’t there also deficits of freedom, education and women’s empowerment in other countries, including countries that we support, but for some mysterious reason they don’t want to lash out at us? Perhaps something else is going on… Hm… It couldn’t be that we support Israel, even when they are committing war crimes (link).
As you might have guessed, I saved the best quote for last. Friedman, on why we invaded Iraq
To me, the most important reason for the Iraq war was never W.M.D. It was to see if we could partner with Iraqis to help them build something that does not exist in the modern Arab world: a state, a context, where the constituent communities — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — write their own social contract for how to live together without an iron fist from above.
Yes, a good way to ‘partner’ with a country to help them write a ‘social contract’ on ‘how to live together’ is to invade that country and kill 100,000 civilians. And of course, it was a great plan for getting Shiites, Sunnies and Kurds to live in harmony.
But, awwww, isn’t Tom Friedman a nice guy? He supported the invasion because he wanted everyone to live in peace. At least, that’s what he says now. But in 2003, he said this in an interview with Charlie Rose:
We needed to go over there basically, and take out a very big stick… What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying “which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society? You think this bubble fantasy [terrorism bubble], we’re just going to let it grow? Well, suck on this, ok.” That Charlie, is what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth.
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