November 15th, 2012

Friedman on the Middle East today

Thomas Friedman surprised me by offering an interesting take on the state of the Middle East today. I’d summarize it as: Iraq is at present the most stable country in the Arab Middle East, at least relative to the others. Why? The US deposed the dictator Saddam Hussein and then actually stuck around long enough to contain the resulting civil war and to channel the opposing sides into working together (comparatively speaking, of course). But Obama’s in trouble now because he wants to get rid of the dictators without expending the effort to shape the region afterward. And now that he’s pulled out of Iraq, even that country might end up mucked up.

Friedman manages to write the entire column without once mentioning Bush’s name, except to say that Iraq and Afghanistan were the trouble spots during his administration. But the entire column is, surprisingly, a tacit vote of approval of the Bush approach versus the Obama one.

From the start I’ve said that if you’re going to invade a country like Iraq and topple a dictator, you’d better be willing to stick around for the difficult reconstruction. I once thought we had the stomach for the enterprise, but some time in the middle of the first decade of 2000 I realized that we didn’t.

56 Responses to “Friedman on the Middle East today”

  1. Sam L. Says:

    Especially those who thought BUSH!!!!111!! must be opposed in all things.

    Cutting off funds to South Viet Nam did the same thing.

    I knew a guy who was contrary: The AF told him to wear his seatbelt, so he wouldn’t. He agreed that wearing them was a good idea, and said he’d wear them except for being told to. He also had 5 wives (4, since #3 was also #5).

  2. vanderleun Says:

    “I once thought we had the stomach for the enterprise”

    I too briefly, very briefly, had that false consciousness as well. Now I have reverted to my immediate 9/11 opinion: Kill 1,000 for every single American harmed but kill them from altitude.

    More rubble = less trouble.

    And sooner or later that is exactly what we will have to do.

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    Friedman is a nut…
    he makes his living only looking at the short run

    and his premise is wrong.

    The most stable country in that area is: UAE

    but i will put a short two cents in.
    go back to when i first appeared here and we were discussing iraq, and all that, and i said, the military goal was not nation building.

    the goal if you looked at a map, was stability by neutralizing the movement of expertise, and munitions.

    that Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India is that one line in the sand.

    I said that failure to complete that would be met with a world war, becuase the very attempt at it is akin to trying to kick the enemy in the balls and stop the games.

    and the games are about affecting production and stability because Russia has no economy but natural resources. and the only way to get more money for your natural resources is to make sure no one else is providing them

    Russia a few years after then referred to this one country line in the sand as a “buffer zone”. but it still didn’t register.

    ONCE YOU GET THIS, then all the pieces fall into place nice and neat with a pretty bow on it too.

    if russias economy depends on gazprom and lukoil and all that selling oil at a premium inflated price to achieve more cash per unit volume. then blocking weapons and such games would in effect allow cheaper oil to reach the market from the countries in turmoil, and this would be the open market, not the “its ok if you sell to our Tovarish cheap, just not the west cheap).

    so these unstable regimes would sell to china, but would not to America. while the lack of competition would inflate the cost to Europe and the west. and the only thing that could seriously break this would be AFRICA.

    in the west, the progressives, fabians, communists, anarchists, etc… they all wish oil as energy would end, and they are promoting energy that would not work.

    if this was allowed to progress forward to the extrapolation future, the cost of fuel in the west would rise several times, and that would be a way to redistribute an extra dollar for every dollar you spend, to communist countries.

    if your paying 3 times the price you can think of 2 units of that would be redistributive.

    if one analyses clearly without the freidmanesque socialist take to creating false stories for the consumption of the people.

    then one would realize a hot war would do what to the price of oil?

    but you also point someting out that is keen that i also notice people dont get.

    if you’re going to invade a country like Iraq and topple a dictator, you’d better be willing to stick around for the difficult reconstruction

    well the answer to that doctrine goes back to suskind and the naked communist and his list of goals, and comprehending the nuance in the sentence.

    read number 43 again:
    43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

    the key here is before…

    so, i knew exactly what would happen, as the playbook rule was written publicly in 1963, and their rules don’t change (if it did, they would stop being what they are and be something else, which is why everything else must change)

    IF you prevent colonialism from teaching the public through example and leading, then you prevent the ideas of freedom and all that from sticking. you then can sell them on a new kind of freedom, state slavery.

    so the rhetoric about the colonials and Obama hate for it, is this understanding.

    that left to its ends, it would establish freedom, self government, and so on, and then the long slog of communism would have to do a 100 year plan like in the US to get anywhere…

    so it was critical that it be stopped, while preventing opposition from stopping you.

    if you read their stuff, what they do is VERY predictable. if you don’t, what they do is VERY confusing. which for them is fine as its always a short term thing to which the victim cant recover or change the past which fixed the thing in time…

    just think about it.. the rules and ideas of operation that lead to mechanics of action that make outcome… were all set down and written in near stone.

    so Sanger is eugenics, the effort was to convince otherwise – to remove opposition

    the taking over countries was really about stopping russia (and china), from destabilizing the sources of resources and so prevent them from getting falsely inflated prices. – to remove opposition

    the gaming of women in feminism was not really about liberating them. it was about using them like a diamond to cut the other diamond which is their mates – to remove the opposition blocking them

    to make the choices made in the middle east, was to dismantle the effort, which – removes the opposition blocking them

    anyone now see a pattern?

  4. George Pal Says:

    I second Arfldgr: Friedman is a nut.

    “The reason Syria explodes is because its borders are particularly artificial, and all its communities — Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Kurds, Druze and Christians — are linked to brethren in nearby countries and are trying to draw them in for help” – T. Friedman

    I wonder if Mr. Friedman would allow that diversity is not strength? I wonder if Mr. Friedman would allow that most all Middle East borders are artificial – inspired by British and French colonists?

    “But Iraq teaches another lesson: Shiites and Sunnis are not fated to murder each other 24/7/365. Yes, their civil war dates to the 7th century.” – T. Friedman

    So diversity is not a strength but intermarriage is? The man is a knucklehead. The American presence in Iraq was a blunder that will become evident when they leave. Whatever little there is in Iraq of what might properly constitute a viable nation will be overwhelmed by Islam in one iteration or another, fundamentalist, sectarian or terrorist.

  5. ziontruth Says:

    “From the start I’ve said that if you’re going to invade a country like Iraq and topple a dictator, you’d better be willing to stick around for the difficult reconstruction.”

    The Post-War Japan Model has been extrapolated too much. In Japan following their defeat, you were talking about a homogenous society with a tradition of national cohesion, while Iraq is a proposition nation, a multi-culti pseudocountry. These have been overwhelmingly known to offer an option between dog-eat-dog anarchy (like Yugoslavia following its breakup) and tyrannical repression that puts the lid over the multiple nations in the state. Not even a hundred years would have sufficed.

    And that’s quite apart from the rationality of pursuing nation-building in the first place. As far as dealing with the threat of Islamic imperialism goes, it’s the Serbs who had the right idea: Instead of fighting them abroad, which just wastes your resources and does nothing to keep Islamic terrorism off your homeland, a nation should empty its territories of the entire population from which 100% of terrorists emanate. Alas, the Muslim oilmasters managed to bear down on Clinton to nip an example of successful repulsion of Islamic imperialism in the bud.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Believe me, I’m not a Friedman fan. I’m not sure I’d call him a nut, though. I’d call him naive and simplistic.

    I just think it’s interesting that he’s criticizing Obama and praising (sort of) Bush.

    And George Pal: I’m not sure what you mean by “will be overwhelmed by Islam.” Iraq has long been overwhelmed by Islam. Maybe you mean by Islamists?

    And by the way, speaking of Iraq and Islam—remember this?

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    ziontruth: I’m not advocating invading countries willy-nilly (read some of my posts on neocons to get a flavor of what I say about it). I’m saying if you do invade, be prepared to stick around.

  8. ziontruth Says:


    Yeah, I understood that, that’s why I wrote “And that’s quite apart from the rationality of…” in the second paragraph. The first paragraph makes the argument that, even if nation-building were a good strategy, there are very specific places where it could work, Iraq not being one of them, because of its heterogeneity.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Iraq will be Shia led and an ally of Iran within a year after our departure.

    The only choices in the M.E. are radical jihadist regimes or ‘strong man’ regimes that can be bribed to repress their radicals.

  10. Artfldgr Says:

    “O My people! Their oppressors are children,
    And women rule over them.

    O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray and confuse the direction of your paths.” — Isaiah 3:12

  11. ziontruth Says:

    Additionally, I believe that the great failure that makes a decisive case against any idea of nation-building in Muslim-majority countries is not Iraq but Turkey. The latter is a relatively homogenous and orderly country, yet even Mustafa Kemal’s (a.k.a. Ataturk) thorough attempt at secularization has proved no safeguard against eventual Islamization.

    The Middle East is a fruitless region, except for a few beleaguered Christian and Jewish enclaves (parts of Lebanon for the former, Israel for the latter). The big problem is that the Western states have sought the Middle East as a key to peace, where they should instead have studied the Middle East as a showcase of how Islam degrades everything. Had they learned this lesson, they’d never have thought of importing the bane of the Middle East—Muslim invader-immigrants—into their own countries.

    Preferring appeasement to population transfer. Now where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, it was after World War One, when the refusal to boot all the Germans out of the Sudetenland in 1919 (which would have created a homogenous Czechoslovakia) gave Hitler an excellent pretext to jump-start his imperialistic adventures almost 20 years later. Humanity just loves learning things the hard way.

  12. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way..
    if your watching the stock market since the election, you have a perfect example of their playing you!!!

    Dow Futures Fall on Data, Wal-Mart Results


    Dow Sinks to Lowest Since June on Budget, Israel as Oil Rallies

    when they do this, they are never accurate, because the point is not to be accurate to the people who have higher numbers. ie. lying to the losers who listen is a good way to stabilize things and favor the winners who are paying you to give news.

    how about this for a reason…

    the great sell off is happening, and the reason its so slow is to maximize returns not just dump stuff…

    this is so you can move it out of the US and divide it into other currencies, and reap capital gains (and maybe buy it back later when down)…

    ie. the big guys are dumping the US economy

    but they are not going to say that, then you might go and act on your stocks to try to save the 10k you have invested.. and that would really ruin berkshire hathaway… and so on.

  13. Baltimoron Says:

    Its really sad that this is the closest anyone from the major news outlets gets to insightful commentary on the middle east.
    Its typical Friedman: a muddled version of the events that got us here, followed by a simplistic explanation of where we are now and ending with a suggestion that we just sit around and hope for the best.

  14. Artfldgr Says:

    NEO: Believe me, I’m not a Friedman fan. I’m not sure I’d call him a nut, though. I’d call him naive and simplistic.

    then you haven’t read him enough AFTER your changing SIDES…

    whole articles have been written with the title being friedman is a nut job!!!!!!!!!!

    Steele: Tom Friedman a ‘nut job’

    should make you wonder why your on the other page of reasonableness…

    and the reason he is a nut?

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman a “nut job” on Thursday for suggesting that current fury in among the conservative grassroots is creating the “same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the [former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin assassination.”

    the Tea Party is akin to the climate that resulted in the assassination of Yitzhak

    the RNC chairman responded: “I’m just saying to make those kinds of equations, you know, examples, and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy.

    I’m sorry, but if you’re going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position, you’re saying because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of a sudden we’re going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff, I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn’t have this kind of conversation, now all of a sudden you’re going to color it because of a public policy debate…because the president is black.”

    remember that?

    remember when the GENIUS went on jeopardy?

    NYT’s Tom Friedman Bombs on ‘Jeopardy!’

    let me guess, you were asleep or absent those days in the last century… 🙂

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    hit enter by accident

    Despite winning three Pulitzer Prizes, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman bombed on Jeopardy! Friday.

    By the end of the show, he had amassed a pitiful $1,000 placing him third behind CNN’s Anderson Cooper and NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell

    Friedman must have been nervous for he missed his first two attempts.

    With the category “21st Century Lingo,” the answer was, “In 2011, BusinessWeek said European government bonds were this ‘poisonous’ kind of debt.”

    Friedman responded, “Sub-prime.” I guess he missed the clue in quotation marks “poisonous.”

    The correct response of course was “toxic.”

    In the same category moments later, the answer was, “It’s the ‘tiny’ term for a person who writes short posts about one’s personal life on Tumblr or Twitter.”

    Once again, the word in quotations marks was the clue, and once again Friedman missed it.

    “What is a tweeter?” he replied.

    Of course, the answer was “micro-blogger.”

    At the end of Double Jeopardy!, Cooper was in first with $15,600, Friedman in second with $8,400, and O’Donnell in third with $2,000.

    The Final Jeopardy! category was Inventors, and the answer was, “The National Inventors Hall of Fame said his work ‘brought the south prosperity,’ but he was out of business within 5 years.”

    Unfortunately, no one got the correct response of Eli Whitney, but as Friedman wagered $7,400, O’Donnell $500, and Cooper $1,201, the three time Pulitzer Prize winner came in last with only $1,000.

    Nice job, Tom.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    here is a perfect example of his nuttiness

    The historical debate is over. The answer is free-market capitalism.
    Thomas Friedman

    The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist.
    Thomas Friedman

    so while bowing to free market capitalism, he calls for the iron fist in the communist velvet glove of invisibility… the points are not compatible, are they?

    I basically did all the library research for this book on Google, and it not only saved me enormous amounts of time but actually gave me a much richer offering of research in a shorter time.
    Thomas Friedman

    followed by this quote:
    There is no substitute for face-to-face reporting and research.
    Thomas Friedman

    no substitute but google…

    McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15.
    Thomas Friedman

    want to do some research?
    McDonald Douglas founded 28 April 1967
    McDonalds restaurants founded May 15, 1940

    the reason you dont know he’s nuts is that you dont remember enough of the tiny things to catch him every time he does something like the above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    you read that quote, and maybe think its extreme and not nuts… but you dont know (quite normally, as i am abnormal), that mcdonald existed for almost 30 years before the thing responsible for its flourishing!

    No, most of our political elite has not realized that the world is flat.
    Thomas Friedman

    The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention argues that no two countries that are both part of the same global supply chain will ever fight a war as long as they are each part of that supply chain.
    Thomas Friedman

    no… like tweeter he just makes it up. what he is describing is the theory that he and others economic leaders wrongly accepted!!! MAED mutually assured economic destruction

    problem with that, is you can start the dominoes falling with a place like Greece. so rather than prevent a war with the threat of pulling the pin, guess what? the socialists from Russia onwards, once they heard that was the new idea, rushed to pull the pin!!!

    you can find gems like that in almost every article he writes… but you really have to have a very wide broad and deep memory for the crap no one remembers and are too lazy to look up to catch him at it all the time

  17. texexec Says:

    “Preferring appeasement to population transfer. Now where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, it was after World War One, when the refusal to boot all the Germans out of the Sudetenland in 1919 (which would have created a homogenous Czechoslovakia) gave Hitler an excellent pretext to jump-start his imperialistic adventures almost 20 years later. Humanity just loves learning things the hard way.”

    Hmmmmm…the USA sure isn’t a homogenous nation now. Who’s gonna kick out whom?

    (Not differing with you at all, ziontruth…just pointing out an interesting and troublesome fact.)

  18. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    }}} From the start I’ve said that if you’re going to invade a country like Iraq and topple a dictator, you’d better be willing to stick around for the difficult reconstruction. I once thought we had the stomach for the enterprise, but some time in the middle of the first decade of 2000 I realized that we didn’t.

    Wrong. HALF the nation has the stomach to do the job properly. Half the nation is a bunch of pissy little gutless sheep who won’t allow the sheepdogs to be sheepdogs even as the wolves are nipping at their heels.

    Guess which “color” state the latter bunch are the majority of?

    Y’know, I’ll grant, the USA hasn’t had a particularly great record with truly spreading our ideals around the world. All too often, we’ve taken the easy way out — knocked the existing power base down, set up a strongman favorable to us, and then GTFO.

    For ONCE in recent memory, we ACTUALLY went in and DID the RIGHT THING — we went in, knocked out the existing power base, and then STUCK AROUND long enough to establish order and at least a semblance of true democracy.

    This was, in fact, rather CLEARLY something to be proud of — what OTHER nation besides America has done such a thing anytime in vaguely recent history, if at all?

    But no, the gutless swine libtards had to pervert their own perception of it into “Imperial” actions (yeah, right, you need to go learn WTF “empire” is about, if you think Iraq was “imperial”) just because they KNEW they didn’t have the BALLS to do it themselves, and, rather than accept that SHAME, they had to re-paint it as something less than it was. No one was even demanding they help. With an all-volunteer army, no one was doing anything they didn’t believe worthy of support, anyway.

    It’s just one more reason why libtards are absolute scum. They would rather others suffer than that they be rightly shamed at their selfishness and cowardice.

  19. George Pal Says:


    Yes Islamists, which I take to be Islam loosed from the grip of a strongman. Islam always, eventually, reverts to Islamism which I believe is its natural state while Islam is a fettered state.

  20. Mr. Frank Says:

    The diversity myth is alive and well on the left. Diversity is a handicap and challenge for any society.

  21. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    }}}} Nice job, Tom.



    ‘Cause you can measure someone’s capabilities by how well they do on ‘Jeopardy’…?


  22. neo-neocon Says:

    IGotBupkis: actually, it’s somewhat less than half (including quite a few paleoconservatives, too, in the “nay” category). And that’s what makes the difference. It has to be at least slightly more than half, or it won’t happen.

  23. ziontruth Says:

    “Hmmmmm…the USA sure isn’t a homogenous nation now. Who’s gonna kick out whom?”

    Neither is the Jewish nation, racially speaking. But the Jewish nation isn’t defined racially, and I presume the same is true for the American nation (though I’m sure there are Americans of a certain political persuasion who vehemently disagree).

    The problem is one of national cohesion. Racial homogeneity may make it easier, but civil wars within racially homogenous nations show that it’s no guarantee. Conversely, if a national identity not racially defined has enough substance to it, then the racial differences within the nation can be overcome. It’s not easy, and the temptation to exploit the differences is always in the shadows, but it’s possible.

    The U.S.A. never got a stab at overcoming its racial heterogeneity. When the legal barriers for non-whites were finally lifted in the 1960s, then came a new force to frustrate race relations in the form of Marxism, which thrives on pitting group against group then selling itself as the cure for strife. Political thinkers in America had been so busy concentrating on old-style white racism that they completely ignored the threat of new-style anti-white racism, which as we have seen has served the Left for two elections straight.

    In Israel things have developed somewhat differently. Strife between Jews of European (Ashkenazim) and Arab-world (Sephardim) extraction was an acute problem in the first decades of the country. It would be premature to say it’s no longer a problem in Israel today, but it has been much attenuated by intermarriage and the fact that Israel’s Jewish population is now majority Sephardi, thus rendering the old cries of minority discrimination groundless. Anti-Israel pundits want the Arabs to be included in this harmonization, but it’s a no-go: Israeli Jews today are not only more Oriental, they’re also more religious, which means they’re ever less willing to consider the Arabs as part of the renewal of Jewish national existence in the Land of Israel. The otherness of the Arab in Israel is total.

    Speaking of which, the Arab nation isn’t defined by race either. Just a week ago there was a blonde Arab girl in Judea and Samaria who tried to provoke a reaction from the IDF soldiers. The fact is Arabs in the Land of Israel are as racially diverse as the Jews, though their propaganda criticizes the variety of Jewish extractions—irony was never one of their strong points. Language, and the culture built around it, is what groups the racially disparate Arabs as one nation. However, a deep-seated tribalism means the Arab nation has never been united.

    What’s interesting about the Jewish case is that its definition is ethnic but not genetically closed. A Jew is someone either born to a Jewish mother or having undergone conversion according to the requirements of Jewish Law. The latter criterion means genetic descent from the ancient Israelites (themselves already racially heterogenous) is not required, but traditional Jews still view themselves as an ethnos. Thus, although Israel is a “nation of immigrants” like America, it is also truly an ethnostate. This is evidenced by the fact that various attempts to form a new propositional “Israeli nation” comprised of both Jews and Arabs in the country have been rejected, and that all talk of a demographic threat among Israeli Jewish circles is about the threat the Arabs pose, not Jews of this extraction or other.

    As for the United States of America, I can’t say where things are going; I’m deeply aggrieved by the Marxists’ success in dividing the nation for their gains. I fully understand white Americans’ frustrations (see my comment again), though I wish it need never have come to that. Non-whites like Allen West, Thomas Sowell and Michelle Malkin are proof that a non-racial American national identity is possible. Alas, the only way to maintain it in the face of cynical political exploitation is to criminalize Marxism, and that looks like being further away than ever. Woe to Marxism that foments needless strife between people! May God put an end to Marxism speedily!

  24. DonS Says:

    I’m still trying to decide if the Iraq War was a good idea. When you consider that the risks or such an enterprise goes up with the election of someone like Obama, it suggests that Bush was wrong to go to war.

    You have to factor in the morality of the opposition party, and the morality and motive of the media when considering such actions. The war was expensive, but perhaps a reasonable expense if we were willing to properly follow through.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    DonS: Whether it was a good idea depends on whether you are looking at it with hindsight or looking at the situation as it appeared then.

    We can look at things in retrospect, but decisions to act or not act must be made in the here and now, with the best evidence available at the time. And the other thing to take into account is that we don’t have an alternate world in which we take the opposite approach. According to the Duelfer report, and the fact that Europe was campaigning to remove sanctions on Iraq, it is highly possible that Saddam would have re-opened his WMD program. We don’t know. And we don’t know what the results would have been.

    People often forget that sort of thing when they evaluate the consequences of an action. What would have been the consequences of the opposite action, or inaction, or an alternative action? I wrote about this idea here. Please read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt from it (this part is a quote from the writer Milan Kundera):

    n 1618, the Czech estates took courage and vented their ire on the emperor reigning in Vienna by pitching two of his high officials out of a window in the Prague Castle. Their defiance led to the Thirty Years War, which in turn led to the almost complete destruction of the Czech nation. Should the Czechs have shown more caution than courage? The answer may seem simple; it is not.

    Three hundred and twenty years later, after the Munich Conference of 1938, the entire world decided to sacrifice the Czech’s country to Hitler. Should the Czechs have tried to stand up to a power eight times their size? In countrast to 1618, they opted for caution. Their capitulation led to the Second World War, which in turn led to the forfeit of their nation’s freedom for many decades or even centuries. What should they have done?

    If Czech history could be repeated, we should of course find it desirable to check the other possibility each time and compare the results. Without such an experiment, all considerations of this kind remain a game of hypotheses…

    The history of the Czechs will not be repeated, nor will the history of all of Europe. The history of the Czechs and of Europe are a pair of sketches from the pen of mankind’s fateful inexperience.

    “Mankind’s fateful inexperience”—yes, indeed.

  26. armchair pessimist Says:

    Bush’s strategy to infect the Arab world with the liberty virus was like a radical new cancer treatment: Conceptually elegant, too bad it didn’t work. Some peoples naturally understand freedom, some don’t; and after this election I’m no longer so certain that we’re in the first group.

  27. Rob Says:

    To say that Friedman gives “a tacit vote of approval of the Bush approach versus the Obama one” is a bit of a stretch. Besides, the verdict is still out on Iraq. Things could still go to hell there very easily. Time will tell.

    In any case, there are many dictators whose hold on power is tenuous right now. How many more Iraq-style wars are you up for?

  28. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Tom Friedman, you mean the guy who assured his followers that the Egyptian Spring would lead to a nation being run by Facebook kids?

    Here is Latma’s, the Israeli satirical program, take on Tom:

  29. csimon Says:

    I agree with Neo. Freedman definitely trends left, no question. I wouldn’t say that makes him a nut. Paul Krugman is what I’d classify as a real Left-wing nutcase.

    Michael Hastings (Rolling Stone and independent writer) and Oliver Stone are full-blown whackos with zero tether to reality. (Hastings, notably, was on Piers Morgan the other night, and shredded Petraeus accusing him of being a “con-man” and committing atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, conning Obama into “a surge which has been a disaster”, etc. etc. (of course, if anyone can even remember thru traditional Democratic haze of re-writing history sfter the fact, the generals there requested — and recommended 60,000 troops to properly execute a winning surge — and Obama decided to politically cut the baby in half and ordering only 30,000, thereby hopefully minimizing anger in his base, but showing faith in his generals. Predictably Hastings was obnoxious to boot, even when Morgan was surprisingly reasonable with his comments and questions, and pretty fairly gave a General Kimmet (longtime friend and colleague of Petraeus), and another pundit who knew Petraues, opportunities to fairly portray Petraeus. Hastings was uncontrollable with his interruptive and loud over=talking and over-taking the segment. (Even most lefty online comments re: the segment condemned Hastings. I brought up Oliver Stone because he is apparently on some tour of the shows — he was in Piers Morgan’s next segment, and then on CBS’s morning show the following day, where he (not surprisingly and, as usual) was in some alternate universe, and made an ass of himself.)

    But I digress from the main point of Neo’s post, that Freedman’s article was surprisingly a reasonable evaluation (to most of us) — a more honest one than is usually found in any MSM outlets).

    Note: I try to watch and read some MSM outlets and once in a very great while, (when I have the stomach) take a peek at Huffington Post and, even more rarely at Daily Kos, and leftwing blogs, to just be aware of what the real leftys are saying.
    I must admit, though, I prefer to let Neo do that reading (the “heavy lifting”) and then follow up links she might post.

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    Friedman is a bitter hazel nut
    Krugman is a boasting chest nut
    together they are one big bag of mixed nuts

  31. parker Says:

    There is no there there in a predominately Islamic society. For a while the Turks looked like they had a sane society figured out, but Turkey now drifts towards full blown Sharia. Iraq the moment we leave will become an Shia hellhole aligned with Iran. GWB was day dreaming when it came to ‘civilizing’ Iraq.

    Our policy with Islamic societies such as Afghanistan and Iraq (and before too long Iran and Pakistan) when they cause harm to our society should be to kill a lot of people, destroy infrastructure, and then back off and be ready to do it all over again. Only muslims can transform Islamic societies and over the last 1,400 years they have a rather ugly, bloody track record.

  32. George Says:

    Oliver Stone is pushing his series “The Untold History of the United States” which is running on Showtime. The title is a bit misleading as it only covers the post World War Two history. I have not seen it but it apparently agrees with Howard Zinn’s interpretation.

  33. thomass Says:

    Obama also seems to have a major problem telling ‘the good guy’s’ from the ‘bad’. Growing up left wing where Castro and the Sandinistas (just a couple examples of many… you could read some old copies of The Nation to get the idea in more detail) are either looked up to or sorta looked up to… well; you see the problem. Another; they floated the story that Obama learned his lesson from not supporting the [basically pro US / pro liberal] demonstrators in Iran and turned around and did support the [anti liberal] demonstrators in Egypt to prove it…. bs to cover something worse? Could be; I know a few leftists who are pro Iranian dictatorship since it is ‘anti imperialist’…

  34. thomass Says:

    George Says:

    “Oliver Stone is pushing his series “The Untold History of the United States” which is running on Showtime.”

    One word: Roku!

  35. rickl Says:

    It sure would be nice if we had actual pro-American, pro-Israel, and pro-Western leadership at this time.

    Instead, both the political leadership and the media throughout the West are clearly allied with the enemy. It’s the damndest thing.

    Sooner or later a critical mass of people in both the United States and Europe are going to decide that their governments are no longer legitimate. Then Katy bar the door.

  36. rickl Says:

    Maybe somebody should translate Wretchard’s “The Three Conjectures” into Arabic, and airdrop copies throughout the Muslim world.

    Just brainstorming here.

  37. parker Says:

    “One word: Roku!”

    I love my Roku. I stream MLB and netflix on my Roku. It was a 64th birthday present from my savy and sexy wife.

  38. blert Says:

    Bush’s goal will be achieved by the smart phone.

    It’s already kicking psychic tails in Afghanistan.

    Smart phones are portable TVs that can travel to the most rugged parts of the globe.


    Friedman is so smart he’s lost the family fortune in real estate. — As in $ 1,000,000,000 +


    Nation building + muslim populations => null set

    Its code of personal conduct => sanctioned theft and deceit

    On the whole, it’s a Neolithic rule-set. Period. Stop.

    It’s managed to turn vibrant societies into a cross of the Eloi and Morlocks: lazy + blood thirsty — and completely unread.

  39. Curtis Says:

    Obama’s second presidential campaign (that is his 2008-2012 presidency) has consequences. We’re all not supposed to talk about terrorism or the threat to Israel but instead must fashion our conversation on Arab democracy and Arab rights.

    Now, having left the threat to Israel untreated, the treatment is too vast and too terrible to consider. So we will do nothing. But Israel will not.

    And when their battle for survivial devastates the Arab world, that world will unleash on us their hatred. Loosed from all restraint, they will unleash their host of ready jihadi warriors. Martial law will be declared under Obama and the end of our Republic will occur unless we plan for this eventuality and retain power in the military and police separate from Obama. Why do you think Obama wanted to create a civilian defense force?

  40. causauk Says:

    I disagree with the claim that America doesn’t have the stomach for nation building. They’re just fussy. Iraq wasn’t our best performance.

    Now that we’re in the wilderness, we can tweak the recipe. Reconstruction is what got us.

    If you read a book like On Killing you’ll realize it takes a lot of work to condition an 18 year old to point where they’re willing to kill; it is unnatural. They’ve specialized.

    You can’t have those 18 year switching hats all the time between aid worker and soldier. It’s confusing. It’s inefficient.

    That’s why I’m studying Rural Development. When we next get our chance, we’ll need older farts going in right behind the first wave to reestablish government services.

    We’re going to have to hold elections sooner. Maybe fundamentalists take those elections. That’s a risk we’ll have to take. We’ll have to find a way to hedge for it.

    Using pronouns like we confuses the issue. America didn’t lose its stomach. America doesn’t have a stomach. Our domestic coalition fractured. That’s fine. Coalitions come and go.

    I don’t think Iraq changed our long term ability to form coalitions. There will always be Internationalists on the left that can be brought on board. We don’t need the paleocons on side.

    In fact, I hope the palecons aren’t onside. Because their opposition, their distrust is a good thing. They keep us from going off the deep end.

  41. Curtis Says:

    You’re funny.

  42. Curtis Says:

    Is it possible that the Petraeus debacle was orchestrated to devalue (de-mythologize if you will) our nation’s respect for the military. Clinton, Obama, Panetta: they all hate our military. They view it as the continuation of the city on the hill, the Monroe Doctrine, imperialism, the Vietnam atrocity, Manifest Destiny, an evil empire in itself which must be made subordinate to UN rule, power not under their control (always not a good thing) and, and, (well I’m trying to be Mark Steynish or Vanderleunish and it’s not working and maybe they can pick up the theme) all that and more.

  43. parker Says:

    “We’re going to have to hold elections sooner. Maybe fundamentalists take those elections. That’s a risk we’ll have to take. We’ll have to find a way to hedge for it.”

    In my ideal world we hedge for it by bombing until the rubble turns into grains of sand. Your mileage my vary.

  44. causauk Says:

    “In my ideal world we hedge for it by bombing until the rubble turns into grains of sand. Your mileage my vary.”

    Girls can’t go to school. Bomb them all.

  45. parker Says:

    “That’s why I’m studying Rural Development.”

    I grew up as a farm boy, and now live on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I know the pulse of rural folks. They do not need your studies. You might as well piss up a rope. Rural America just needs to be left alone. Some will falter, others will succeed. That is the natural course of events.

  46. causauk Says:

    I don’t live in America. I live in China.

  47. expat Says:

    There is one other element in the case for getting rid of Saddam besides the failing sanctions and the probability of his restarting WMD programs. That is the fact that he woud have gained stature among radicals for having “beaten” the US. He could have been the follow-up leader to OBL, especially with his oil money to fund terror groups. And he would have had his UN, French, and Russian bribees to help smooth the way for him internationally.

    Too many people are now assuming that we went into Iraq to nation build, when, in fact, nation building was but one option in deciding what to do when our goal of getting rid of Saddam was achieved. I just hope the provincial hate-America lefties don’t manage to erase our real choices completely from the narrative, but then again, their BDS is so great that they can’t see or talk about reality.

    One comment re Turkey: It’s my impression that the Istanbul Attaturk secularists didn’t do a great job of spreading wealth and education in the backward eastern villages. As people from these areas moved to Istanbul looking for work, there was a culture clash. One could say that the Anatolian villagers clung to their guns and religion and didn’t particularly like being treated as rubes. I am certainly no expert on this, but I have read things that point in this direction.

  48. JH Says:

    Iraq is at present the most stable country in the Arab Middle East

    What a joke, I laughed till I fall from my seat….

  49. Artfldgr Says:

    and pretty much what i said five years ago and fought huxley over and others, is now starting to happen. it actually started to happen way before this, but at that level people can deny the perception, so they dont think things start till the time they cant deny it, not the time it actually starts. (so the stuff happening is blamed on Obama, not all the others since 1930s and before and all along the line up to it. there is a reason they like pyramids (and obelisks more – think of an obelisk as a pyramid with most of the lower class cut off rather than flowing out from the top)).

    anyway… being too busy denying it will happen, they don’t act on the idea that they should consider whether their choices would affect that. for the left that believes Palestine should remove Israel, the point is moot.

    Rockets have hit tel aviv (over 245 fired)

    IDF has called the citizens up and mobilized them
    forces are massed at the syrian border

    Egypt now has also massed troops in violation of the 1979 peace treaty i said didn’t exist once the state changed hands. turkey is frozen in a damned if i do, damned if i don’t position (to defend itself and attack Syria and so on, is to also be seen as helping Israel – so think of it as the rook protecting the bishop)

    and i can see its going to get hotter..
    (though i am unsure whether or not they will actually destroy the pyramids and the sphinx as an aside to things, as they now say they think they should)

    note that while everyone is paying attention to all this (and rightly so) they wont be paying attention to the copts, and the darfur christians, and so on.

    friedman is nuts..

    because he is not reading this right, as the next crisis for Obama is whether to step up and help or to sit aside and watch, and neither is a winning proposition (so i say he will freeze like a deer in the headlights not being able to resolve the best play – i also predict that since that is a weakness of his, that that kind of situation will be created more just so as to exploit this inherent delay)

    IF Obama stands aside, then the message to other allies is what, and what does that favor?

    IF Obama enters the arena, then he begs Russia and china to enter the arena too on behalf of Egypt, and Syria (in greater numbers than is already there operating equipment for them – as has been true in every conflict so far since Korea)

    this second option is what has always kept America out of the hot side of this, including the prior war where the US sat off shore watching, and soviets sat on the other side watching and kibitzing.

    the Muslim brotherhood has withdrawn the Egyptian ambassador.

    and on top of it all, this is what will dominate the news (among other things avoiding the above for a longer while), Twinkies Maker Hostess Going Out of Business, CEO Blames Union Strike…

    yes. thats right, the left has convinced people that if they push harder there is a unlimited pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow. they pushed, the company has decided they cant operate any more, and thats the end of that. (will Obama nationalize twinkie? i fear that the fact its called a twinkie would prevent it)

    take some time and you will find that this is not the first company to do this or make cuts, and if you go to the various left places discussing it, their sing song is that the wealthy are doing this for spite to teach the poor a lessson, not that the poors demands and lack of knowlege has pushed things to a point where its just not doable any more.

    using the analogy from towing loads, they put so much weight on the engine, they blew it.

    in the old days they would have said that was the straw that broke the camels back.

    and the people are as bewildered about that as they are about the way economy is going (And will go) and will be bewildered when the news breaks enough that they realize things are hot and its too far along for their will to matter

  50. Rob Says:

    Saddam would never have gained status with religious radicals and would never have been tapped to succeed OBL. The one good thing about Saddam that he made very, very clear during his many years in power is that he knew how to keep religious whackjobs (both Sunni and Shia) in check. He was never more brutal than when teaching these folks a lesson. The US understood this about Saddam. It’s one of the reasons we liked him for so long. It’s also why so many religious leaders hated him fervently.

    Yet another good thing about Saddam, at least from the perspective of US interests, is that he kept the Iranians constantly looking over their shoulders. He didn’t take a lot of guff from them, either.

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    Truce talks failed…

    Israel has started drafting 16,000 reserve troops

  52. Curtis Says:

    So we might be rediscovering the mertis of the Kirkpatrick doctrine?

    Pat Buchanan helps the Benghazi investigation gain traction by expressing the simple question:

  53. JH Says:

    To correct and tidy things for you, its better off saying this:

    Iran is at present the most stable country in the Arab Middle East

  54. JH Says:

    It might those think about Iraq stability, wounder if they read the resent news:

    U.S. Troops Deployed in Iraq Again
    Thursday, 27 September 2012 12:46

  55. JH Says:

    The US understood this about Saddam. It’s one of the reasons we liked him for so long. It’s also why so many religious leaders hated him fervently.

    EMMA SKY: I mean, what drives instability in Iraq is the struggle for power. It’s a struggle for power and resources and it’s not Kurd, Sunni, Shia. It’s very simplistic to view this and we viewed it in purely sectarian, ethnic terms since ’03. You have within the Kurds PUK and KDP. They had their own civil war. Within the Shia you have huge differences, and it’s based on, you know, your ideology, or the Wilat al-Faqih …

  56. Rob Says:

    I hate Obama as much as anyone, but I must confess I don’t see him as being any more reprehensible, on a personal level, than your typical politician. They all excel at evading responsibility, deflecting blame, distorting the truth, etc. I also think that trying to turn Obama into some kind of supervillain is counterproductive to our cause. It’s a distraction at a time when we do not need to be distracted.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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