Friday :: Oct 31, 2003

Earth To Tom Friedman, Earth to Tom. Come In Tom


by Steve

I know that it seems to be sport to bash Tom Friedman of the New York Times for his schizophrenic approach to the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. The man is capable of writing columns that support the toppling of Hussein and then criticizing how Bush is handling the occupation, as if these are mutually exclusive events that can fairly and separately be analyzed. Yesterday’s column is just such a column that demonstrates how Friedman can be right and so oblivious at the same time.

The money quotes from his October 30th column are these:

Let's get real. What the people who blew up the Red Cross and the Iraqi police fear is not that we're going to permanently occupy Iraq. They fear that we're going to permanently change Iraq. The great irony is that the Baathists and Arab dictators are opposing the U.S. in Iraq because — unlike many leftists — they understand exactly what this war is about. They understand that U.S. power is not being used in Iraq for oil, or imperialism, or to shore up a corrupt status quo, as it was in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Arab world during the cold war. They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched — a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world.

For a man who knows so much about the history of the region, Friedman seems to totally discount the Arab world’s hostility to Western colonialism. To Friedman, the thugs and terrorists that are killing our soldiers and the aid workers are doing it because they don’t want us to change their country. Isn’t it possible that those who feel oppressed by our occupation simply don’t trust our intentions, based on what they’ve have seen of us so far?

Many liberals oppose this war because they can't believe that someone as radically conservative as George W. Bush could be mounting such a radically liberal war. Some, though, just don't believe the Bush team will do it right.

Huh? Which liberals has Friedman been talking too, besides those on the Upper West Side? Have any of you met any liberals lately who are unhappy because Bush resembles Lyndon Johnson, FDR, or JFK in his alleged desire to “liberate” people? Why is it impossible for Friedman to conceive of the notion that those opposed to the war were opposed to it because our national security was not threatened in March 2003 or even November 2002 by Saddam Hussein? Can't Friedman see or acknowledge that instead of telling us that the war was necessary to liberate the Iraqi people, Bush chose instead to unilaterally proceed without international support by scaring us with an imminent threat of WMDs that our own intelligence knew at the time didn’t exist? Does Friedman totally discount the concern that liberals would have with an illegal war, one that was sold to the American people on false pretenses? Doesn't Friedman think that liberals would be against a supposed war of liberation where we seem to be better prepared to misinform that to rebuild, better prepared to plunder through cronyism than to secure through local support? Does Friedman ignore the harm to our national security from a detour away from Al Qaeda towards a crippled-through-sanctions Saddam? Can he really think liberals are unhappy that Bush has waged a radically liberal war?

And then, keeping with his schizophrenic style, he concludes with a dead-on assessment:

Can this administration, whose national security team is so divided, effectively stay the course in Iraq? Has the president's audacity in waging such a revolutionary war outrun his ability to articulate what it's about and to summon Americans for the sacrifices victory will require? Can the president really be a successful radical liberal on Iraq, while being such a radical conservative everywhere else — refusing to dismiss one of his own generals who insults Islam, turning a deaf ear to hints of corruption infecting the new Baghdad government as it's showered with aid dollars, calling on reservists and their families to bear all the burdens of war while slashing taxes for the rich, and undertaking the world's biggest nation-building project with few real allies?

Tom, please take your medication and return to the real world.

Steve :: 8:19 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!