Friedman Goes After Trump: Hey, Massive Bombing Was MY Idea!
Thomas Friedman has some harsh words in his New York Times column (12/9/15) for Donald Trump and his unsophisticated grasp of the complexities of foreign policy:
As for Trump, well, he may be a deal maker, but he’s no poker player ready for the Middle East five-card stud sharks. His xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing make up the kind of simplistic hand you’d play in “Go Fish” — not in this high-stakes game.
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Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. $27.95. Pp. 438.
Thomas Friedman is always the head cheerleader for the next big thing. At first it was globalization and now it’s the green revolution. Friedman’s instincts are good, it’s just his analysis and politics are lacking. There are certainly valuable and interesting insights in his work, but his adolescent enthusiasm for capitalism often turns his critique to shallow propaganda.
The book’s title, Hot, Flat, and Crowded is a good indicator as to how Friedman understands environmental problems. Underline that word crowded because the book takes us on a Malthusian ride through the Third World. It’s overpopulation, not capitalism and its need for every expanding accumulation that is destroying the world’s environment.
Friedman marches us through China, India, Brazil and Nigeria offering a myopic view that only occasional refers to the developed countries and their use of energy and resources. When it comes to energy markets transnationals such as Exxon and Shell disappear as does any discussion of imperialism and its history in the Middle East. Instead Friedman targets “petrodictorships” and “Sheikhs…with bags of cash” indoctrinating madrassa students to “breed like rabbits” and “swarm” over the Islamic world. (p.88)
Reading his “Letter From Baghdad” column in the New York Times on Wednesday, you’d never know that Thomas Friedman has a history of enthusiasm for war. Now he laments that Iraq is bad for the United States — “everyone loves seeing us tied down here” — stuck in the “madness that is Iraq.” And he concludes that the good Americans who have been sent to Iraq will not be deserved by Iraqis “if they continue to hate each other more than they love their own kids.”
The column, under a Baghdad dateline, is boilerplate Friedman: sprinkled with I-am-here anecdotes and breezy geopolitical nostrums. For years now, the man widely touted as America’s most influential journalist has indicated that his patience with the war in Iraq might soon run out. But, like the media establishment he embodies, Friedman can’t bring himself to renounce a war that he helped to launch and then blessed as the incarnation of virtue.