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The Tom Friedman of 2002 has not gone anywhere

Uncategorized Comments (8)

Thomas Friedman in the NYT:

Vice President Cheney is the hawk-eating hawk, who regularly swoops down and declares that the U.S. will not permit Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Trust me, the Iranians take his threats seriously. But Mr. Cheney’s Dr. Strangelove imitation is totally wasted with President Bush and Secretary of State Condi Rice. . . .

If she were taking advantage of Mr. Cheney’s madness, Secretary Rice would be going to Tehran and saying to the Iranians: “Look, I’m ready to cut a deal with you guys, but I have to tell you, back home, I’ve got Cheney on my back and he is truly craaaaazzzzy. You guys don’t know the half of it. He thinks waterboarding is what you do with your grandchildren at the pool on Sunday. I’m not sure how much longer I can restrain him. So maybe we should have a serious nuke talk, and, if it goes well, we’ll back off regime change” . . .

But Mr. Obama’s stress on engaging Iran, while a useful antidote to the Bush boycott policy, is not sufficient. Mr. Obama evinces little feel for generating the leverage you’d need to make such diplomacy work. When negotiating with murderous regimes like Iran’s or Syria’s, you want Tony Soprano by your side, not Big Bird. Mr. Obama’s gift for outreach would be so much more effective with a Dick Cheney standing over his right shoulder, quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm.

Glenn Greenwald notes that in 2002 Friedman cheered on for the Iraq war. Since then he appeared to change his mind, but Greenwald claims that the Thomas Friedmand of 2002 “has not gone anywhere.” Greenwald cites a 2002 article by Friedman titled “Crazier than Through” about going to Iraq:

Sept. 11 happened because America had lost its deterrent capability. We lost it because for 20 years we never retaliated against, or brought to justice, those who murdered Americans. . . .America’s enemies smelled weakness all over us, and we paid a huge price for that. . . .

No, the axis-of-evil idea isn’t thought through — but that’s what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: “We know what you’re cooking in your bathtubs. We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you’re wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld — he’s even crazier than you are.'”

There is a lot about the Bush team’s foreign policy I don’t like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right. It is the only way we’re going to get our turkey back.

Greenwald explains the “turkey” line:

The “turkey” reference was to Friedman’s highly revealing tale of an “elderly Bedouin leader” who foolishly tried to “restore his virility” by preparing a turkey to eat, only for someone to steal the turkey. In response, he punished nobody, and so everything was then stolen from him, and “a few weeks later the man’s daughter was raped.” Friedman’s self-revelatory conclusion: “America is that Bedouin elder, and for 20 years people have been taking our turkey,” so it’s now time to start indiscriminately kicking ass so we won’t be stripped of everything and our daughters won’t be raped anymore. So obviously, Freidman’s mentality — aside from being both childish and barbaric — was completely about himself and his perceptions of his own weakness and some lurking belief that he had to “restore his virility.” That’s why he loved and loves Dick Cheney, and it’s why our press corps.

The drooling, bloodthirsty desire for war and vengeance which Friedman spewed forth in the months after 9/11 has been suppressed some as a result of the disaster in Iraq, but it is still lurking in him and the rest of our pundit class with all the vibrancy it had in 2002. And now that they are starting to convince themselves that they were Right After All about Iraq, they’re starting to unveil it again, in completely unchanged form. They have learned absolutely nothing. They cannot, because they are convinced that they are the Guardians of Great Wisdom and cannot err. Even in Iraq, they did not err.

Almost five years after helping to unleash the greatest disaster in our country’s history, Tom Friedman is still openly indulging his adolescent, weakness-based fantasies about ass-kicking and chest-beating Dr. Strangelove threats and the virtues of acting like a mafia thug such as Tony Soprano, “quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm.” Friedman sits around watching TV shows and — for reasons far more psychological than political — identifies with amoral Tough Guy thugs and gets all excited by the vicarious sensations of strength and power and then disguises all of that as “foreign policy analysis.”

Tom Friedman — and the rest of our media class — are completely unchanged as compared to what they were like in 2002. The disaster they unleashed in Iraq only caused them to hide all of this for awhile, not to relinquish or even modify it in any way.

Greenwald also sees this adolescent posturing—also demonstrated by Michael Ledeen and Jonah Goldberg—in Maureed Dowd (and Michael O’Hanlon):

As always in Beltway pundit world, liberal men are emasculated losers (Coulteresque “faggots”); Democratic women are frigid, emasculating freaks; and war-loving Republican male leaders are our only Real Men. Hence, Dowd’s whole column today depicts Hillary Clinton as an “icy,” vicious, “dominatrix” and Barack Obama — “Obambi” — as her emasculated, intimidated, submissive slave. And she contrasted “Obambi” with Rudy Giuliani, who is far too masculine to be “kept in line” by Hillary’s whip. One feels lowered even writing about Dowd.

Greenwald concludes:

We continuously hear about how grave a problem is the Iranian nuclear program. It never seems to occur to the likes of Tom Friedman that — just as one might be motivated to buy a gun if one’s neighborhood were infested with roving crime gangs — countries decide that it might be rational for them to acquire nuclear weapons given that the world’s superpower is run by warmongering crazies such as Friedman, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Mike O’Hanlon and Fred Kagan. Deranged neoconservative militarism isn’t the solution to nuclear proliferation; it’s a cause.

Irancove @ November 19, 2007

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