Monday, November 22, 2004

Postcards From a Whacko

It’s a little-known fact that the New York Times tests their employees for drug use. Perhaps they should start testing their columnists as well.

In his column in yesterday's Sunday Times, titled Postcards from Iraq, Thomas Friedman argues that we should stay in Iraq until our own troops stage a full-scale rebellion against the occupation:

Readers regularly ask me when I will throw in the towel on Iraq. I will be guided by the U.S. Army and Marine grunts on the ground. They see Iraq close up. Most of those you talk to are so uncynical - so convinced that we are doing good and doing right, even though they too are unsure it will work. When a majority of those grunts tell us that they are no longer willing to risk their lives to go out and fix the sewers in Sadr City or teach democracy at a local school, then you can stick a fork in this one. But so far, we ain't there yet. The troops are still pretty positive.

By this logic, of course, we’d still be in Viet Nam. Heck, we’d still be trying to make Canada the 14th colony. Friedman wants military personnel, who’ve been trained to obey orders, to tell us when it’s time to stop obeying orders. And until then, what the hell, let’s blow up some more mosques.

He precedes this statement with something nearly as silly:

We are trying to host the first attempt in the modern Arab world for the people of an Arab country to, on their own, forge a social contract with one another.

I really like the use of “host” in that sentence. Makes it sound like we’re over there serving white wine and canapés. “Would you care for a touch more Chardonnay? It goes quite well with that incendiary device in your pocket.”

He then follows it with a quasi-racist discussion of how American-style tolerance isn’t in the Iraqis' DNA:

Despite all the mistakes made, that is an incredibly noble thing. But for Iraqis to produce such a social contract, such a constitution, requires a minimum of tolerance and respect for majority rights and minority rights - and neither of those is the cultural norm here. They are not in the drinking water.

Right. Just like the boundless tolerance our current administration has for differing opinions, or inconvenient facts, or political dissent, or the rights of the non-evangelical majority to worship--or not—in any manner they choose. I don’t know what water Friedman has been drinking, but it’s not what’s coming out of my tap.

Does Friedman really believe that democracy is the reason we’re in Iraq? Does he really believe this administration would tolerate a freely elected Iraqi government that was not a puppet of US policy? (“Anything you want, Prime Minister al-Sadr—and you can have all your oil back, too.”) Did he cut class the day they covered the list of countries where Washington has muscled aside elected governments it didn’t like and supported dictatorial allies? Is he completely ignorant, or just conveniently ignorant?

Iraq is a disaster that no sham elections will fix. We need clear-headed thinking about what we’re doing there and how we’re going to get out before we do even more damage. We need intelligent opposition to wrong-headed policies. We don’t need more apologists, drunk on the sludge that’s being piped out of Washington DC. We have a surplus of those.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bill said...

Dan, I think we should go by another standard when deciding it's time to "throw in the towel." When cheerleaders like Tom Friedman start talking about how it's not the Iraqis anymore who will tell us, but the US troops, then the canary is dead.

Tom Friedman was more responsible for a hard-sell of this invasion to centrists and progressives than anyone else I can think of. By peddling the illusion that we'd be welcomed in Iraq and that people were yearning to be invaded there, Friedman blunted the sane opposition. Now he's got misgivings? Thanks.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's a comment that came to me via email:

Totally right-on, Dude!!!

For a couple of years now I have earnestly struggled with trying to understand the points of view of those who support this war and I have consistently come up short. The only explanation that works for me so far is denial. In order to think that this is a good idea one has to deny that the premise was a lie, that the possibility of fair elections in the near future is a lie, that the idea that we are fighting “a few” insurgents is a lie, that we are not there principally to secure our oil interests is a lie, that we are lessening terrorism is a lie, and on and on and on.

Those who have perpetrated this war know why we are there: money, a lot of it. I guess the rest of us just can’t face admitting that we have become the kind of country that will murder others for money – tough to stomach, I admit.

8:18 PM  

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