Tom Friedman’s restless quest

on 24 Comments

Justin Elliott posted this a few weeks back, but it’s still divine. I believe this is a form of logorrhoea on the part of the most important columnist in the solar system (who advocated for war on Iraq).

“Thomas Friedman dreams of a Syrian/Arab/Sunni/Shiite/Egyptian/Tunisian/Libyan Mandela, a short history:”

Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time.

America midwifed that social contract-writing in Iraq, but Egypt will need a Nelson Mandela.

These sectarian divisions have prevented national leaders from emerging — and no Arab Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. has been able to rise above them to heal the rifts.

We know, though, that there will be no impartial outside midwife to guide the transitions in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. Can they each make it without one? Only if they develop their own Nelson Mandelas …

The Arab world desperately needs its versions of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela …

They need to grow their own arbiters — their own Arab Nelson Mandelas.

But it will be impossible without Iraqi Shiite and Sunni Mandelas ready to let the future bury the past.

The ideal but least likely scenario is that we see the emergence of an Iraqi Shiite Nelson Mandela.

There is nothing that you can’t do to someone in the Middle East today, and there is no leader or movement — no Nelson Mandela and no million-mom march — coming out of this region, or into this region, to put a stop to the madness.

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24 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    September 7, 2012, 10:39 am

    From what I understand Palestinian Mandela’s have been thrown in prison by Israel or killed over the decades. Mandela received world wide news coverage. Have Palestinian Mandela’s received world wide coverage?

    • mthunlan
      September 7, 2012, 11:34 am

      Palestinian Mandelas???
      Sounds oxymoronic to me!
      You get killed and sometimes openly tortured and executed even by the moderate Fatah, even when you sell as Arab land to Jews.
      Not to mention the mass murder of suspected collaborators.

      • MLE
        September 7, 2012, 12:16 pm

        Yes because that’s the issue that is most important in the whole conflict, selling land to Jews.
        I don’t agree with killing or torture but I understand the hostility. The Palestinians are struggling to keep whatever land thy have left, why should they accept giving it freely to the enemy.

      • Accentitude
        September 9, 2012, 2:15 am

        The “Palestinian Mandela” is on his way. He’s in an Israeli prison serving a 456,732,000 year life sentence but there will come a day…and I imagine that it will be soon…when the Israelis will be forced to release Marwan Barghouti from prison. He is the only one that can unite Gaza and the West Bank (he’s extremely popular in both areas among citizens and government officials) and he’s the only one that can return Palestine and Israel to the negotiating table.

      • Woody Tanaka
        September 7, 2012, 12:22 pm

        Palestinian Mandelas???
        Sounds oxymoronic to me!

        Of course it does; you’re a bigot.

        “You get killed and sometimes openly tortured and executed even by the moderate Fatah, even when you sell as Arab land to Jews.”

        And while I don’t condone torture, what are you supposed to do to traitors who are aiding and abetting those who are fighting for your destruction??

        “Not to mention the mass murder of suspected collaborators.”

        And you don’t believe that there were similar instances in the fight by the ANC against the Afrikaner version of zionism?

      • ColinWright
        September 10, 2012, 10:05 pm

        Speaking of “the mass murder of suspected collaborators.”…

        It often strikes me that that is priority one if the Palestinians are to mount any coordinated resistance. They have to ferret out and eliminate as many of the collaborators as possible.

        I feel sorry for those who collaborate — Israel brings unspeakable pressure to bear on them — but they have to be deterred, and the only way I see that that can be done is to make the consequences of collaboration more frightening than the consequences of not collaborating.

        The fight against a ruthless tyranny is never a pretty thing. One can have all kinds of ideals — but it tends to come down to who can impose the more convincing terror. In the guerrilla war against the Nazis in occupied Soviet territory for example, the tide of battle ultimately ebbed and flowed according to who was able to frighten the peasantry more — the Germans, or the partisans.

        That’s not a very palatable fact, but it is a fact, and the sooner the Palestinians can make it impossible for Israel to maintain order, the sooner they’ll be free. So in the end, the more collaborators are caught and killed, the better.

        You can criticize me for advocating this, but ultimately, it all flows from having a tyranny that enjoys no actual legitimacy among a large portion of its subjects — and that is what Israel is.

      • marc b.
        September 7, 2012, 1:20 pm

        killed for suspected collaboration or for doing business with the enemy? are you sure you’re talking about fatah and not the irgun mnhtnlann? and who exactly was the ‘zionist mandela’ in palestine back in the 1930s-40s, or better yet, given the times, who was the ‘zionist gandhi’? or is that an oxymoron?

      • Accentitude
        September 9, 2012, 2:22 am

        Ooh wait, I know! Is it…..David Ben Gurion? Nope, he was a racist ethnic cleanser. Was it Moshe Dayan? Nope, he was a murderer too! Was it Ariel Sharon? *Scoff*…I can’t even properly label what that guy is. Thankfully, he’s a vegetable. Menchim Begin? Yitzhak Rabin? Some conveniently forgot that he created the first intifada’s “broken bones” policy. Funny, what a handshake on the White House lawn can do for you. Golda Meir? Hell no. Barak? Netanyahu? Seriously?? Ayalon? Shamir? Olmert? Tzipi Livni? Peres? Wait, I think I’m friends with him on Facebook! No, no, no. The Israeli Mandela is probably Dov Lior…or Meir Kahane, right?

  2. seafoid
    September 7, 2012, 11:44 am

    Instead of a Mandela, Palestine has Handala

    Friedman will be remembered as a nonsense monger

    • marc b.
      September 7, 2012, 12:09 pm

      with all due respect to tommy franks, douglas feith is not the ‘dumbest [email protected] guy on the planet’. that award goes to tom friedman, ‘midwife’ being the latest metaphorical play thing for the scribbling nit wit. and note to friedman: mandela was jailed for decades on trumped up charges, so, yes, there is plenty of live material to make a positive ‘mandela’ analogy to dozens of palestinian activists if that were your inclination.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    September 7, 2012, 4:43 pm

    RE: “this is a form of logorrhoea” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Nice word. Me likes!
    Sounds a bit like an Italian veranda.


    log·or·rhea (noun)

    Definition of LOGORRHEA
    : pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness that is characteristic especially of the manic phase of bipolar disorder

    —log·or·rhe·ic or chiefly British log·or·rhoe·ic (adjective)

    • Mooser
      September 7, 2012, 6:08 pm

      Logorrhoea? That must hurt like hell. Sounds like diarrhea, but with splinters in your sphincter, too. Of course, it would pass, but should it?

      • DICKERSON3870
        September 13, 2012, 12:11 am

        RE: “Logorrhoea? That must hurt like hell. Sounds like diarrhea, but with splinters in your sphincter, too.” ~ Mooser

        MY COMMENT: Very funny, but it also reminded me of the infamous: “Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass.” 

        FROM HAARETZ, 11/13/08:

        (excerpt) . . . Last week, soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade posted a video on YouTube depicting a blindfolded Palestinian being forced to repeat phrases in Hebrew as the soldiers manning the checkpoint laugh in the background. . .
        One of the lines is: “Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass.” 

        As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background. . . 

        SOURCE –
        • VIDEO CLIP (00:40) –

        P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Loggia]:

        [EXCERPT] A loggia (UK /ˈlɒdʒiə/, US /ˈloʊdʒə/, Italian: [ˈlɔddʒa]) is an architectural feature that refers to a gallery or corridor at ground level, sometimes higher, on the facade of a building and open to the air on one side, where it is supported by columns or pierced openings in the wall. Notably, Filippo Brunelleschi featured a loggia at the front of the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) in Florence, Italy. . .

        SOURCE –

  4. ColinWright
    September 7, 2012, 5:05 pm

    The ridiculous thing is that Nelson Mandela and what he stood for is simply somewhat irrelevant to the issues involved in the Arab Spring. This isn’t about peacefully ending the rules of explicitly racial oligarchies — except of course in Israel, and it is precisely there that Friedman does not call for ‘a Mandela’.

    I tend to suspect that behind calls such as Friedman’s lies an unspoken hope that the change can be averted — or at least miraculously transmogrified. That all these Muslims — finally rising up and trying to get what they want — can somehow be convinced to seek what we want.

    …and it always gets back to Israel. Because, of course, a strong Muslim world that was reaching for what it wanted would, among other things, want an end to Israel.

    …and for Friedman, such a thought is intolerable. It always gets back to Israel. She’s always in the room — even when no one says her name.

    • Accentitude
      September 13, 2012, 1:58 am

      Perhaps Friedman is referring to how Israel is trying to “cleanse” itself of black people. Oh wait…that’s the opposite of what Mandela stood for, huh?

  5. Nevada Ned
    September 7, 2012, 5:08 pm

    A new book about Friedman looks good: Thomas Friedman, The Imperial Messenger, by Belen Fernandez. Disclosure alert: I haven’t read it, but it looks good.

    Friedman has a graduate degree from a prestigious British university, but still
    gets the big picture wrong, often. For example, he saw the big demonstrations that toppled Mubarak, and Friedman proclaimed that the Egyptian movement had no interest in foreign policy. What’s that, you say? The demonstrations featured large banners proclaiming solidarity with the Palestinians. Why did Friedman ignore the banners? Because the banners were in Arabic (duh!) and Friedman (the “expert”) doesn’t understand Arabic.

    As for the Arab Gandhi, I nominate the Iraqi journalist Zaiidi, who provoked an explosion of public support a few years ago when he threw his shoes at George W. Bush. Offers of gifts poured in from the Arab world. One man offered to give Zaiidi a camel! Another man offered a house (!!) One man offered his daughter’s hand in marriage (!!!) Several more liberated ladies offered their OWN hands in marriage (!!!!)

    • marc b.
      September 10, 2012, 7:44 pm

      i have read fernandez’s book, nevadaN, part of a series. friedman is reminiscent of the idiot nephews of the 19th and early 2oth century WASP bourgeoisie, too connected to fail. or as an article in the WSJ put it before it was coopted by the neocons, friedman is a beneficiary of the glass floor, below which members of the ruling class cannot fall, despite their individual failures.

  6. asherpat
    September 7, 2012, 5:59 pm

    And the today’s riddle, children is: how’s apartheid Israel caused all this?

    Lucky winners will receive the usual prize – an Israeli flag! And a lighter with a can of petroleum!

    • MLE
      September 8, 2012, 12:36 am

      Were making fun of Tom Friedman and his completely superficial analysis and lack of true understanding about the Arab world, even though he gets to publish a column in the New York Times. Although its funny that a man with his head as far p his ass as Tom Friedman can even see that Israel is fucked.

      Where are the Arab Mandelas? Sitting in jail or dead. Mandela would just be another guy if there wasn’t very public campaigns to get his life and his message across. American media is looking for a Arab or Muslim who is passionate about human rights yet is willing to stay quiet about the whole Palestine issue and only say nice things about Israel, which is why they haven’t found this person yet.

  7. traintosiberia
    September 8, 2012, 8:45 am

    Friedman is waiting for messiah to come but on the Arab camp to change US-Israeli behaviors.

  8. traintosiberia
    September 8, 2012, 8:59 am

    Where was Friedman when Madela was in jail?

    may be he was too young. But where he is now when Tutu is making those noise against Israel and Blair-Bush?
    May he is satisfied with the notion that we have freedom of expression allowing this kind of views .
    Is he is asking us to join him in his self -induced titillation that Tutu would be locked up if he were in China or Iran or Somalia to celebrate how we allow “Mandela” to roam freely compared to those rogues?
    Has Friedman ever said anything on Bradley Manning or Assagne or on the innocent inmates in Guanatanamo or on the jailing of whistle blowers? May be he sees a “mandela” in someone only when the light exposing the existence of “mandeal” is beamed from the corridors of the power

  9. traintosiberia
    September 8, 2012, 11:37 am

    Before thsi “Mandela” fixation ,Friedman had another fetish .He used to ask for 6 months more of time every 6 month from impatient American public who were demanding to see WMD or progress towards democracy or lessening of violence in Iraq.
    Only God knows what next after poor Mandela

  10. piotr
    September 8, 2012, 11:52 am

    If you have so many different ideas as Thomas Friedman (meaning, not that many at all)) and you have to produce a column every weak, some degree of repetition cannot be avoided.

    • ColinWright
      September 10, 2012, 10:10 pm

      Also, you’re writing for the New York Times. The list of allowed positions is pretty short.

      It’s one reason I tend to skip their columnists. It’s not just Israel — on almost any subject their views are almost mind-numbingly predictable.

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