6 Years Later, Friedman Still Does Not Get It

In 2004, Tom Friedman was interviewed by Charlie Rose. He famously said "The Iraq War was the United States saying "suck on this." Friedman said the Iraq Debacle was "unquestionably" the right thing to do.

Today he writes:

I have never bought the argument that Iraq was the bad war, Afghanistan the good war and Pakistan the necessary war. Folks, they’re all one war with different fronts.

This is, of course, nonsense. All one war? Sheesh. Moreover it is nonsense Friedman cannot even sustain through this very column:

Rightly or wrongly, we stepped into the middle of this war of ideas in the Arab-Muslim world in 2003 when we decapitated the Iraqi regime, wiped away its authoritarian political structure and went about clumsily midwifing something that the modern Arab world has never seen before — a horizontal dialogue between the constituent communities of an Arab state.

Rightly or wrongly? Excuse me, this is just unbelievable. For Friedman's claim was that the Iraq War was a strike against Islamic extremism and terrorism. But here's the "news" - Iraq was not where the Islamic extremism against the US came from. It was Afghanistan and Pakistan from where Al Qaida operated and still mainly operates.

Indeed, if you are opposed to the US Af/Pak policies, Tom Friedman is your useful idiot - he says the engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan is "just like Iraq." In my view it is not. But if ever I became convinced it was - I would be the first one in line leading the charge for immediate withdrawal.

The Iraq Adventure has been a disaster from start to finish with no strategic objective. We will be leaving it a mess no matter when we leave or what we do. That is simply a fact and no one can do a thing about it.

If Friedman is right, if Af/Pak is just the "same war" as the Iraq Debacle, then we need to be out of it right now. I believe that in this, as in all things, Tom Friedman is wrong again.

Speaking for me only

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    Tom Friedman begins (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by KeysDan on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 12:36:54 PM EST
    his article by stating that it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry after reading reactions to the president's Cairo speech.  I, too, felt that way, but in reaction to reading his column  After Friedman's traversing of rationales over the past six years, starting with  'authoritative' cheerleading for the Iraq war to his most recent and tenacious of achieving a "decent" and, apparently, quotidian outcomes, he should refrain from offering any opinions of the Middle East for at least 25 years.  Now that would be a decent thing to do.   In noting  that we "decapitated" the Iraqi regime, he even misses sensitivity to the botched hanging of Saddam.

    Quotidian deserves more than (5.00 / 0) (#9)
    by oldpro on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 02:07:14 PM EST
    one 5 but that seems to be the limit.

    Kudos as well for noting his missing any "sensitivity to the botched hanging of Saddam."  Good grief.


    Ok, I totally agree (none / 0) (#1)
    by JThomas on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 09:12:34 AM EST
    that Friedman is doing some CYA by even suggesting that the invasion of Iraq might have been the ''right'' thing to do. He was a fan of doing it, and continued to be a fan for the war thruout the ensuing 6 years.

    Now,does he have any valid points in here?
    I do agree that if Iraq spirals into violence and instability after we leave in 2011, America and Obama will get some blame. Bush should get it,but he will be forgotten by then,unfortunately.

    Does it behoove us to try to broker the best settlement possible in Kirkuk and Iraq? Probably.
    Should SoS Clinton be focusing on a smooth exit from Iraq? Yes, and I have no doubt she is.

    We cannot un-invade Iraq now. So of course it is in our interest for as much stability as possible there. As much as we who were vehemently anti-Iraq war from 2003-2007, I do think we have to concede that since mid 2008, Iraq has improved. Just based on US casualties, that is hard to deny. Now, I am sure it is far from being good, but it is not a country involved in a conflagration right now.

    This notion of Friedman that we somehow were right to invade Iraq to start a ''modern/progressive age'' in the middle east is so flawed. That is not our job, and it is a total gamble that is not likely to payoff near the cost.

    I see them all as different wars with different objectives. Afghan is no doubt the poorest country where extremists are most likely to flourish if left unchecked. Pakistan is a more established modern country with democracy in place. Iraq is somewhere in between, with resources but instability in governance.
    Our best outcome in all three is different.
    Afghan- stablize the govt enough to keep the taliban out of power.
    Pakistan- help fight the criminals in NW territories,and destroy AQ.
    Iraq- Stabilize the country, help prepare them to deal with the violence, and get the hell out.

    There's nothing we can do (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 09:17:57 AM EST
    about Iraq spiraling into chaos . Nothing.

    Other than occupying the country forever.


    Is there anything the U.S. can do (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 12:41:36 PM EST
    to permanently change the situation in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan?

    Permanently. Funny word (none / 0) (#11)
    by oldpro on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 02:11:30 PM EST
    to apply to the middle east...

    Not unlike Vietnam. (none / 0) (#10)
    by oldpro on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 02:10:09 PM EST
    It's all too "untie our hands so we can win" familiar, which is probably at the base of some folks reason for supporting the Irac debacle in the first place.

    Wrong then.  Wrong now.


    On Friedman Bubbles (none / 0) (#3)
    by Stellaaa on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 09:22:45 AM EST
    The war also burst our bubble, the bubble that we can go and with a "small force" (the Rumsfeld army) win swiftly and without a doubt.


    But, what were we trying to (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 01:16:55 PM EST
    win? Iraq wasn't threatening us.

    He wasn't really wrong on that part (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 04:00:59 PM EST
    We can go in and "win" a war that way in some circumstances.  Of course, it helps a lot if your adversary is demoralized and underequipped to begin with.

    What he was so utterly totally wrong about was in assuming that winning the "war" part was the end of it and that there would be no need for an occupation.  Again, that might be true in certain rare other circumstances, but it was patently not going to be true with Iraq.  He and the rest of the Bush boys were too drunk on Chalabi juice to get that.


    Sociopath (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 11:03:50 AM EST
    The only way you spew all the nonsense he does and not stop, think, then say "Wow, am I full of sh*t or what?" is if you are completely divorced from reality, at least in terms of your own ego and intellect.

    Same in some respects (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lora on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 01:43:00 PM EST
    In all three wars, we are:

    Bombing civilians, and doing so in ways which could/should be considered war crimes.

    Disrupting the lives of countless thousands of innocents.

    NOT winning hearts and minds.

    In at least two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) we have made the lives of women (over half the population) worse and their rights and freedoms have been severely curtailed.

    Actually on the rights of Women (none / 0) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:20:26 PM EST
    in Afghanistan it'd be very hard to argue they've been made worse- have they been demonstrably improved- not to a significant degree, but made worse? That's a hard point to make considering the status of Women during complete Taliban control- the problems of Honor Killings, and such existed then too but with the full endorsement of the state (rather than the implied endorsement that exist in many provinces now).

    It's just piling on ... (none / 0) (#14)
    by FreakyBeaky on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:57:12 PM EST
    ... but I can't help it.  Thomas Friedman was and is a blithering idiot.