I sometimes forget what happened to our country. But Belén Fernández has a new book out on Tom Friedman called The Imperial Messenger, and she reminds us of Friedman’s achievement, in an interview in the NY Times Examiner:
Friedman sells the Iraq war as “the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched” despite making subsequent assessments such as “The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a ‘geo-green’ strategy.” As I point out in my book, it is difficult to determine how many true “geo-greens” would advocate for the tactical contamination of the earth’s soil with depleted uranium munitions; why not introduce a doctrine of neoconservationism?
Fernández links to Tom Friedman cheerleading the Iraq war in 2003. Wow, I forgot about his stuff! Or thankfully never read it in the first place. The question arises, Did Tom Friedman make any difference with this kind of talk? And I say of course he did, he helped convince the liberal Establishment to go along with this foolish war. Friedman and Ken Pollack and Bill Keller and David Remnick– the pen is mightier than the sword.
[T]he Baathists and Arab dictators are opposing the U.S. in Iraq because — unlike many leftists — they understand exactly what this war is about. They understand that U.S. power is not being used in Iraq for oil, or imperialism, or to shore up a corrupt status quo, as it was in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Arab world during the cold war. They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched — a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world.
Most of the troubles we have encountered in Iraq (and will in the future) are not because of ”occupation” but because of ”empowerment.” The U.S. invasion has overturned a whole set of vested interests, particularly those of Iraq’s Sunni Baathist establishment, and begun to empower instead a whole new set of actors: Shiites, Kurds, non-Baathist Sunnis, women and locally elected officials and police. The Qaeda nihilists, the Saddamists, and all the Europeans and the Arab autocrats who had a vested interest in the old status quo are threatened by this.
Many liberals oppose this war because they can’t believe that someone as radically conservative as George W. Bush could be mounting such a radically liberal war.