Golden oldies: Tom Friedman at start of Iraq war telling Arabs to ‘suck on this’

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I forget this, but Belen Fernandez, author of the new book on Thomas Friedman: Imperial Messenger, reminded me of it today. It’s a video she has made featuring Thomas Friedman on Charlie Rose at the beginning of the Iraq war, explaining the great moral/historical necessity of the war. Because the Arab world had formed the belief that terrorism could bring down the west, from our bond options to television, sayeth Tom, it was a noble thing to see “American boys and girls going from house to house” in Baghdad and Basra telling the Arab world to “suck on this.”

Wow, what a simplistic world view. I don’t think those people ever believed that. Maybe Al Qaeda did. This is pure collective punishment, and racism.

Here is Friedman talking to Avi Shavit about the causes of that war, at about the same time, and being far more thoughtful (Shavit is a wonderful interviewer). Notice the Israel link:

Actually, the Iraq war is a kind of Jenin on a huge scale. Because in Jenin, too, what happened was that the Israelis told the Palestinians, We left you here alone and you played with matches until suddenly you blew up a Passover seder in Netanya. And therefore we are not going to leave you along any longer. We will go from house to house in the Casbah. And from America’s point of view, Saddam’s Iraq is Jenin. This war is a defensive shield. It follows that the danger is the same: that like Israel, America will make the mistake of using only force…

Is the Iraq war the great neoconservative war? It’s the war the neoconservatives wanted, Friedman says. It’s the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite. Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

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