Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

And let's have some Thomas L. Friedman bashing, too

      Consider Thomas L. Friedman's column on Iraq, published in the New York Times on Dec. 23rd, and the Strib reprinted Dec. 26th.

      Friedman's subject is the "gunmen" attacking those trying to organize elections in Iraq, and he at least gets one thing right: said "gunmen" are evil.  Possibly it's just a NY Times thing that the murderers in question are never once referred to as terrorists.  Still, for someone who says later "It's time we called them by their real names," the omission is striking.

      Friedman also gets the issue more or less right.  The "gunmen" are working on behalf of "a tiny minority who want to rule Iraq by force and rip off its oil wealth for themselves."  I'm not sure how Friedman determined that the minority is "tiny," though.  He said just before that "The Sunni-Baathist minority that ruled Iraq for so many years has been invited, indeed begged, to join in this election and to share in the design and wealth of post-Saddam Iraq."  Said Sunnis are about 20% of the population, if I recall correctly.  That's hardly tiny.

      And Friedman does get an excellent point across when he says that the Iraqis are being murdered

for the sole purpose of preventing them from exercising that thing so many on the political left and so many Europeans have demanded for the Palestinians: "the right of self-determination."

      But Friedman can't help bemoaning the fact that we're there in the first place.  Apparently, it's terrible for the Sunni "gunmen" to try to prevent democracy in Iraq, but was OK for Saddam to prevent it.

      And Friedman goes on to bash Donald Rumsfeld for having "managed" the war in a "defiantly wrong way."  He adds that there are conservatives who "would rather fail in Iraq than give liberals the satisfaction of seeing Rumsfeld sacked."  No names, of course, and no acknowledgement that there are conservatives who feel Rumsfeld has done an excellent job as Sec. of Def.

      Friedman also has a reference to "our Arab allies."  By this phrase he does not mean the majority of the people of Iraq, but the govts. of the Arab world.  Friedman, those govts. aren't our allies, they're our enemies.  What does it take to make you see that?

      Friedman closes by quoting Tony Blair:
"Whatever people's feelings or beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein and the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy and terror. On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want to have the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq."

      Friedman terms himself a Blair Democrat, which makes me wonder: does he want us to invade other non-democratic countries and force elections at gunpoint?  If not, does he have plans for making them democratic peacefully?  How long will he try such plans before going military?  And if the answer to that last is 'Never.  The U.S. shouldn't invade other countries to change their form of govt.", then what's the big deal with the Iraqi "gunmen"?  They're doing evil, but the same evil isn't worth stopping elsewhere?  Tom, I'm having real trouble figuring out the logic of your position.

      Come to think of it, that's the usual way I react to Friedman's columns.



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