FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tom Friedman: Scribe for New Age Imperialism

by MIKE WHITNEY

 

Cutting through the baloney in a Tom Friedman article is like picking a nickel out of a dog’s breakfast; damn near impossible. His knack at jiggering the truth to co-opt his readership puts him light-years beyond his piers. Without a fair grasp of the facts before reading one of his columns, you,ll never know you,re being drawn into a parallel universe of calculated distortions.

His latest ruminations focus on the shabby, murderous occupation of Iraq. Friedman endorsed the war from the get-go with proviso that it should be “done right”. Yup, according to Friedman the laser-guided carnage, leveling of Falluja and the subsequent torture of suspects was “okie-dokey” as long as it was “done right”. The great error of the war, according to Tom, was that we didn’t provide enough troops to stabilize the country. That’s it. Not a word about the torture, death and destructionjust practical, “nuts-and-bolts” stuff about how to win the war from our Pulitzer Prize winning prognosticator.

Friedman offers these outrageously callous judgments using his “trademark” affable tenor that oozes familiarity and hauteur. The normal Friedman article assumes the tone of a friendly stranger, plopped on a neighboring barstool, pontificating on the world’s many intricacies to a less-knowledgeable companion. Isn’t that Friedman?

“Let me explain the world to you in terms that even you can understand.”

And is he good at it? You bet. American liberals love Friedman; his folksy lingo, his home-spun humor, his engaging anecdotes. Beneath the surface, of course, is the hard-right ethos that pervades his every thought and word but, “what the heck”, no ones perfect.

Lately, Tom has been combing every detail of the Iraqi elections to make his case about “what should be done” to improve US chances for success in democratizing the churlish Arabs. After considerable deliberation, this is what he came up with:

“We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war”.

Say what? Did he really say that?

“We don’t want the kind of civil war we have in Iraq now. That is a war of Sunni and Islamic militants against the United States,” Tom avers.

Of course, not! What we want is a Friedman-type of civil war; you know, a war where Iraqis only kill other Iraqis and America’s can get on with the “heavy lifting” of looting the country like they planned from the very beginning. Regrettably, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rumsfeld and the Intelligence services all agree with Friedman. “Let’s figure out a way to make them kill each other,” they collectively muse. It should be called the Kissinger solution, since dear Henri promoted the same, self-serving strategy during the Iran-Iraq war (“I hope they both kill each other” H.K.)

So, you see that Friedman is not really any further to the left than Don Rumsfeld or Henry K. This may come as a surprise to some of his liberal-leaning groupies.

He’s not skittish about giving his opinion about Iran either. He wouldn’t be as tactless and corny as Bush, referring to it as “the Axis of Evil. But there’s not a hairs-breadth difference between Bush’s take on Iran and Friedman,s. As a matter of fact, Friedman refers to Iran as a “Red state” just ready to tip towards democracy after a helpful shove from the Bush claque. Sound provocative? How much difference is there between that astute assessment and the more vulgar appeal for “regime change”? Not much.

Friedman believes that if Europe wants a peaceful resolution to the (American-created) Iran crisis, they should do more than just offering “carrots” to the Mullahs. (as opposed to Bush’s “sticks”) In other words, the world should EXPECT aggression unless Iran can somehow establish its innocence beyond a doubt. This seems to follow the logic of the Ashcroft Justice dept. that prisoners are guilty until proven innocent. To Friedman, however, this is a just the practical man’s way of deciding whether or not Iran should be “whacked”. The question of whether the American military should be limited to situations related to national defense is never seriously considered. Friedman, like most Americans, sees US aggression as a sign of divine intercession. God works in strange ways, but more often than not, through his corporeal avatars; the US Marines.

Friedman’s shameless praise of the Iraqi elections is worthy of another Pulitzer. He wholeheartedly accepts the George W. Orwell view that martial law and democracy are morally equivalent. This fits into his larger theory that the broad nationalist struggle (“the Iraqi insurgency”) is nothing more than a “murderous death cult” (I kid you not) comparable to the genocidal “Khmer Rouge”. (No mention, of course, of the “genocidal” murder of 100,000 Iraqis at the hands of their American overlords) His basic premise seems to be, that anyone who defends themselves against American hostility is a terrorist. Where have we heard that before?

Friedman’s views on foreign policy are consistent with those of ideological forebears in the Democratic Party. While the Republican’s take a “race-based”, Manifest Destiny perspective on foreign policy; justifying American conquest in terms of social Darwinism and the inherent right of the US to rule the world. Friedman invokes the “kinder, gentler” tactic of Yankee Paternalism; vindicating occupation and exploitation in terms of a “father’s great love for his errant child”. This explains why it’s so easy for him to shrug off Abu Ghraib and Falluja. He accepts them as an unavoidable part of bringing wayward Iraqis into America’s affectionate embrace. After all, “We,re only killing them for their own good.”

Friedman’s talent ensures that he will remain the unrivaled champion of imperial doctrine for years to come. He’s simply the best around. His unctuous prose provides the rationale for warfare and a justification for the criminal violence against the Iraqi people. What else would you expect from the empire’s foremost apologist? His columns form the ideological headwaters of new-age imperialism; celebrating the ritual of armed savagery to anyone who will lend an ear.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail