Tom Friedman, artist’s conception.
Friedman possesses all of the qualities that make a pundit truly wankerific. He fetishizes a false “centrism” which is basically whatever Tom Friedman likes, imagining the Friedman agenda is both incredibly popular in the country and lacking any support from our current politicians, when in fact the opposite is usually true. Washington worships at the altar of the agenda of false centrism, and people often hate it. Problems abroad, even ones which really have nothing to do with us, should be solved by war, and problems at home should be solved by increasing the suffering of poor and middle class people. Even though one political party is pretty much implementing, or trying to implement, 99.999999% of the Friedman agenda, what we really need is a third party catering precisely to this silent majority of Friedmanites.
Truly great wankers possess a kind of glib narcissism, the belief that everything is about them while simultaneously disavowing any responsibility for anything. The important thing about an issue is whether it proves Tom Friedman fucking right, but if it doesn’t we can just move on to the next big thing that will prove Tom Friedman fucking right. If you advocate for wars that go a bit bad, well, it’s not your fault. If only Tom Friedman had been in charge everything would have been great.
In April 2003 Friedman said that Arab journalists who talked about the US ‘occupation’ of Iraq were guilty of ‘Saddamism’. In August 2003 Friedman wrote: ‘This is an occupation.’
In 2007 he surmised that Iraqis ‘hate each other more than they love their own kids’. In 2009 he hoped that they’d learned from America’s ‘million acts of kindness’ and ‘profound example of how much people of different backgrounds can accomplish when they work together’.
In 2005 Friedman argued: ‘We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war there.’ Earlier this year, he wrote: ‘For all of the murderous efforts by al-Qaida to trigger a full-scale civil war in Iraq, it never happened.’ Never mind that in 2006 he said: ‘It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.’
Tom Friedman is wrong about everything, and Tom Friedman don’t care!
Friedman actually styled himself a critic of the war he so strongly advocated for, but the path of his criticism was as Greenwald described:
(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved.
(2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result.
(3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level.
(4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war.
If only the ungrateful wogs would have done what they should have done then everything would have been great.
If this blog has contributed one small thing to our discourse over the past decade it has been, thanks to a tip from a commenter, pointing out to the world Friedman’s Suck On This moment. You might have thought you knew why we went to war in Iraq, but Friedman knew the real reason.
I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie.
We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big state right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um 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, we’re just gonna to let it grow?
Well Suck. On. This.
That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could’ve hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
That was then, and this was later.
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.
For years Friedman spent dithering about the war. Oh gee it wasn’t going well, but the light at the end of the tunnel might be around the corner in another critical 6 months, leading me to coin the term Friedman Unit, or the F.U. It wasn’t just Friedman of course. Basically every pro-stay in Iraq person would utter some version of “the next six months is critical” on a regular basis. For years I put these statements in my calendar, and six months later would remind the world that nothing had changed and we are still in Iraq and the stupid fucking fuckstick is still writing in your newspaper or on the teevee blathering about the next crucial six months.
The state of the world is what it is in large part because people in positions of great power think this absurd buffoon of man is a Very Serious Person. This hasn’t actually been the Eschaton Decade, it’s been the Tom Friedman Decade. And the next one probably will be too.