Monday, June 8, 2009

Friedman Returns!

After a hiatus of more than a month (not book-leave, one must hope), Friedman has been up to his usual hijinks lately, dropping two columns within the last week about the Middle East.

Yesterday's column, "After Cairo, It's Clinton Time," is grating for two reasons, the first somewhat trivial, the second somewhat not.

Devoted Friedman followers might recall that in 2003, the mustachioed marvel appeared on Charlie Rose to deliver his in-your-face message to America's enemies in Iraq: "Suck. On. This." Well, six years later, Friedman apparently has still not gotten it into his head that the trash-talking is best left for the basketball court (or, in Friedman equivalent, the putting green or tennis court). Reviewing the bloody civil conflict that broke out in the vacuum created by the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, Friedman writes:
Liberated from Saddam's iron fist, each Iraqi community tested its strength against the others, saying in effect: "Show me what you got, baby."
I don't know how many Times editors signed off on that "baby," but if there was ever a single word that was more badly in need of being cut, I can't think of it.

The more troubling element of the column comes in the sixth paragraph, when Friedman writes:
I have never bought the argument that Iraq was the bad war, Afghanistan the good war and Pakistan the necessary war. Folks, they’re all one war with different fronts. It’s a war within the Arab-Muslim world between progressive and anti-modernist forces over how this faith community is going to adapt to modernity — modern education, consensual politics, the balance between religion and state and the rights of women.
A most interesting interpretation, there. (And a very convenient one, for a prominent cheerleader of the Iraq invasion.)

Yup, that's right folks -- the war in Iraq isn't one that we started, based on false intelligence and crackpot visions of transforming the country into a beacon of democracy and progressivism. Instead, it's more like it was already going on, and we just kind of jumped in on the side of the good guys. And what about the Iraq war pulling resources away from the mission in Afghanistan? Nope, folks -- all the same war, can't think about it like that.

Tom, Tom, Tom -- it's six years later, the near-universal consensus among pretty much every human being on the planet is that the invasion was a gigantic mistake, and a terrible way to go about reforming the Arab world ... maybe it's about time you dropped the charade and just admitted it?