Fire Thomas Friedman

Middle East
on 58 Comments
Friedman

Friedman

Enough is enough. Thomas Friedman has just published his first column since the catastrophe in Iraq, and it is marked by so much dishonest evasion, pedestrian analysis, and poor writing that his editors should put him out to pasture at a think tank somewhere in Colorado, where he can’t do much more damage.

First and most important; he nowhere admits that he loudly advocated for the 2003 U.S. invasion and the policies since then that have culminated in this violent debacle. A writer with some integrity would have said straightforwardly that he was wrong, explained why, and tried to draw some useful lessons from his mistakes, as in-

“I misunderstood that the American invasion force would trigger and help inflame a civil war among Iraqis.”

Instead, Friedman’s analysis is limited to noting that the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Malaki, is “not a friend of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq.”  He makes no effort to try and understand the larger social and economic framework that has shaped Malaki and the other actors.

Friedman’s legendary tin ear does not desert him, when he concludes,

“In a word, Malaki has been a total jerk.”

This is an odd choice of words. A “jerk” is someone in front of you at a basketball game who won’t sit down, not a man like Malaki who has been charged with permitting or even running vicious sectarian death squads.

Friedman’s trademark pomposity is also on display. His column is headlined “5 Principles for Iraq,” and it reads like a clumsy PowerPoint presentation from the Human Resources Department. His fourth principle is:

“Leadership matters.”

He has already informed us that he just got back from Iraq; this is what he traveled there to learn?

Then there is Friedman the Simplifying Ignoramus. He asserts that there is conflict in Iraq today because “too many of them are still fighting over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century.” He does not even recognize that religious sectarianism in Iraq exploded after the American invasion, much less try and explain why.

There are, as always, a couple of expressions to make the reader cringe. He actually writes that two political parties in Kurdistan “buried the hatchet.” And he snidely addresses an Iranian commander by saying, “Well, Suleimani: This Bud’s for you.”

A few months ago, here at the site we argued that Thomas Friedman’s column should be outsourced to India. We pointed out that there are accomplished Indians already writing in English who could take over his job tomorrow, and we named several names. It is past time that the Times took up our suggestion.

58 Responses

  1. just
    June 15, 2014, 10:19 am

    Put him in a silo……he’s used to it! He only listens to his own echo chamber, anyway.

    Right now on GPS– Ryan Crocker says that Maliki is not entirely to blame, he wants Kerry on a plane to Baghdad to engage in diplomacy– he makes good sense in much of what he says. Haass is spewing that the time is over for diplomacy. Fareed is just poking around. Ho hum.

  2. Hostage
    June 15, 2014, 10:41 am

    First and most important; he nowhere admits that he loudly advocated for the 2003 U.S. invasion and the policies since then that have culminated in this violent debacle. A writer with some integrity would have said straightforwardly that he was wrong, explained why, and tried to draw some useful lessons from his mistakes,

    Not Tony Blair, who simply doubles-down and calls for more armed force:

    “Tony Blair: Don’t Blame Current Iraq Crisis on 2003 Invasion

    LONDON – Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Sunday it was “profoundly wrong” to think that the 2003 Anglo-U.S. invasion of Iraq helped stoke the current crisis and urged the West to take targeted military action there.

    link to nbcnews.com

    It’s scary to think that he is still the Quartet Representative for the Middle East “peace process”.

    • Citizen
      June 15, 2014, 12:05 pm

      @ Hostage
      McCain is doing the same thing. Bolton too, I imagine.

      • just
        June 15, 2014, 12:21 pm

        Richard Haass was this morning……

        waiting for Cheney and the rest of the PNACians to come out with denials of responsibility and with guns blazing.

    • piotr
      June 15, 2014, 1:24 pm

      It reminds me an old Saturday Night Live joke. At that time a former senator, certain Tower, was nominated for Secretary of Defense, and during confirmation hearing (or before that happened) it was revealed that he had a “drinking problem”. The skid showed him in a bar, begging to get another drink after closing time. The bartender asked “But senator, don’t you have a drinking problem?” replied with “My drinking problem is that I do not have enough to drink.”

      I think that Mr. Blair has a problem. Sometimes I think that those people want to avenge the cause of the West for the defeats at Carrhae etc. link to en.wikipedia.org and repeat the glory of Alexander. Same holds for Israel: while IDF is expert at harassing villagers, the leaders dream of another Gaugamela. link to en.wikipedia.org

    • amigo
      June 15, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Blair,s kisser has been all over the Irish media spouting his twaddle.the sad part is , some will believe him.

      Peace maker in NI and all that BS.

      He is one despicable liar .

    • just
      June 15, 2014, 4:47 pm

      Blair is being hammered in the Guardian….

      “He added: “The idea that Iraq today would be stable if Saddam had been left in place is I think just simply not credible”.

      The former Labour international development minister Clare Short led the criticism, saying Blair “is absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong and of course he has become a complete American neocon who thinks military action, bombing, attacking will solve the problems when it is actually making more and more tension, anger, division, bitterness in the Middle East”.

      Ashdown, normally more supportive of intervention, said: “I cannot see a problem which at the very least has been made worse by using western guns and bombs to kill hundreds of Arab Muslims is about to be made better by using more western guns and bombs to kill hundreds of Arab Muslims whether that’s through drones or through fighters or whatever, is the right and appropriate response.”

      Lord Prescott, Blair’s deputy prime minister likened Blair to a crusader and the Ukip leader Nigel Farage said “Blair has become an embarrassment on the international stage”.”

      link to theguardian.com

      the earlier article was swamped with 2000+ comments.

      • Hostage
        June 15, 2014, 8:33 pm

        @ just It reminds me of one of the sound bites for Blackhawk Down. Mark Bowden remarked that everything which could possibly be accomplished using armed force had already been accomplished in Somalia long before the US forces ever arrived.

      • just
        June 15, 2014, 8:57 pm

        I did not know/remember that. I do feel as though I am experiencing “Groundhog Day”, though.

        Hostage– your mind, memory, and breadth of knowledge is truly amazing. I’m grateful to “know” you.

      • MHughes976
        June 16, 2014, 9:37 am

        Must say – as to the British debate – that I remember Clare Short’s hesitations and ambiguity of attitude in ’03, reminding me painfully of my own.

    • LeaNder
      June 16, 2014, 3:59 am

      It’s scary …

      Yes, it has been that from the very start. I have to admit, I am highly prejudiced against the man. Surface no contents. My opinion long before he played Bush’s poodle. Hmm? Was Obama inspired by his Third Way?

      If I may blurt out? I assume that he is quite satisfied with the salary he gets plus a lavish extra for out of the pocket expenses. Beyond that his first step probably was looking for Israel’s advise. They are the top experts on the “Arab mind” after all, aren’t they? They may have informed him to not overwork, since it won’t get him anywhere anyway. Haven’t they tried it for several decades after all? All that is needed really is the occasional photo op with a handshake.

      Here is another little glimpse of Third-Way Blair’s PR versus hard statistical facts.

  3. iResistDe4iAm
    June 15, 2014, 11:02 am

    Why is it that the two states doing the best are those that America has had the least to do with: Tunisia and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq? ~ Thomas Friedman

    Why is it that all states doing the worst are those that America (or its proxies) has invaded or destabilised?
    Afghanistan
    Iraq
    Yemen
    Pakistan
    Libya
    Syria
    Egypt
    Palestine
    Mali
    Somalia
    Ukraine

  4. David Samel
    June 15, 2014, 11:37 am

    It baffles me how this guy remains such a “respected” pundit. Perhaps he does a great impersonation of an intelligent, insightful person. His best columns are ones that are inconsequential but at least inoffensive. Of course, there is zero chance that the Times would accept James North’s sound advice.

    • Citizen
      June 15, 2014, 12:14 pm

      What did Friedman say back in the days before Bush Jr & crew attacked Iraq? What did he say in the couple years subsequent, say about the Downing Street Memo? Here’s the Washington Post on said Memo, back in 2005: link to washingtonpost.com

      MId June, 2005: “Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times , recently wrote that “liberals” no longer want to talk about the war because we (the liberals)were against it to start with and probably hope it ends in disaster.” “http://www.alternet.org/story/22282/don’t_dismiss_downing_street

    • chinese box
      June 15, 2014, 4:37 pm

      @David Samel

      I’ve always been under the impression that his popularity was due to his ability to “simplify” issues and make them digestible for the hoi polloi, usually by employing metaphors…his popularity is really just a symptom of how dumbed down our present culture is.

      • David Samel
        June 15, 2014, 11:41 pm

        The hoi polloi does not award Pulitzers and TF has 3 of them. The Times itself is an elite publication. However, I do see your point that he is warmly received as someone who can explain and simplify. Why more people do not see through this fool is beyond me.

      • chinese box
        June 16, 2014, 8:43 am

        @David

        Good point…I think partly it had to do with being in the right place at the right time to get noticed…the Middle East in the 1980s from the civil war in Lebanon up to the first intifada. Also, I remember Friedman crediting A.M. Rosenthal with giving him a great deal of help in starting his career.

        The book, “From Beirut to Jerusalem” is a fast moving and entertaining read, although the analysis and prescriptions that Friedman provides at the end of the book are puerile and cringe-inducing, as I recall…

        Ultimately, I think the elite likes him because he’s safe–to the uninformed, he represents a pro-Palestinian, or at least “balanced” view–to any honest, knowledgeable person he’s a gatekeeper who’s quite condescending to Arabs in general.

  5. a blah chick
    June 15, 2014, 11:44 am

    “…his editors should put him out to pasture at a think tank somewhere in Colorado…”

    I’ve lived in Colorado, they don’t deserve that. Just put him under house arrest at that big mansion he had built. And only allow him to use his computer for porn, that should keep him occupied.

  6. James Canning
    June 15, 2014, 1:54 pm

    Tom Friedman was a key cheerleader for the idiotic US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He has been richly rewarded for helping to bring on this catastrophe for the American taxpayers.

    • peeesss
      June 16, 2014, 4:37 am

      “Idiotic” should not be the word/term used to describe the US invasion of Iraq. I would think “criminal. illegal, Supreme Crime of Aggression” more applicable. As for the “catastrophe ” it brought to US taxpayers, one would think that the “catastrophe” suffered by the Iraqi people and to its land , with millions killed, maimed, refugees, destruction of all its health, educational services , infrastructure , and now this madness of extremism brought about by the US invasion should be of more consequence than what US taxpayers have suffered.

      • James Canning
        June 16, 2014, 5:50 pm

        The invasion was illegal, in my judgment. And knowingly based on false intel etc etc etc. But to me the sheer idiocy of the adventure is the most striking feature.

      • piotr
        June 16, 2014, 9:37 pm

        It is hard for me to tell if you are correct. What is more attention worthy: idiocy of governmental actions or criminality? Are our government venal on regular basis and stupid only occasionally, or vice versa?

        Yesterday I went on a bike hike, and on the way back home, at some distance from my town, I was amazed to see a very nicely marked and paved start of a bike path. Which ended after 100 feet. But it is hard to suspect that graft was involved, so I would chalk it as an example of an action that was merely stupid.

  7. Nevada Ned
    June 15, 2014, 2:06 pm

    Friedman is “the world’s wealthiest pundit”, having married into one of the richest families in the country. Friedman has built a gigantic mansion, valued at nearly $10M. He supported a free-trade agreement without reading the text or knowing what was in the agreement. Read what Norman Solomon said about Friedman 8 years ago.

  8. traintosiberia
    June 15, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Wait to here the vetting from the connected and distributed
    nodes across the aisles in Congress and the rival media
    Fox will spice the recommendation with ” Friedman who is a liberal anti war…”
    and from
    CNN, ” lets hear from Friedman , an expert on ME”

  9. George Smith
    June 15, 2014, 4:00 pm

    “A few months ago, here at the site we argued that Thomas Friedman’s column should be outsourced to India.” –James North

    Way too expensive, James. There are more cost-effective alternatives: link to thomasfriedmanopedgenerator.com.

  10. Shingo
    June 15, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Friedman is so synonymous with the Iraq war that they even came up with the Friedman unit after he kept because he kept insisting the next six months were critical during the Iraq war – he did that for 4 years.

  11. traintosiberia
    June 15, 2014, 5:43 pm

    This 21st century wise man thinks that the rest of the world has same low IQ like he has or uses it like he does . We will never know when his dementia set in .He has been misquoting himself a lot for years.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    June 15, 2014, 5:45 pm

    RE: [Thomas Friedman] asserts that there is conflict in Iraq today because “too many of them are still fighting over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century.” ~ James North

    MY COMMENT: Christian sects fought (sometimes literally) for centuries over whether Jesus was a human (i.e., the son of man) or a deity (i.e., G_d). It seemed like a hopelessly “Do or Die” [VIDEO, 07:03], zero-sum game until someone conjured up (thanks to “Divine Inspiration”, no doubt; wink, wink [ VIDEO, 06:28 ]) the doctrine of “hypostatic union” to explain how Jesus could be both G_d and man at the same time. Two for the price of one! Now, to borrow from Rodney King, can’t we all (at least us Christians, for Christ’s sake) just get along?
    Well, some might say there is a bit of a ‘catch’ (others might call it “pure genius”) in that we humans are purportedly incapable of fully understanding the doctrine of hypostatic union because it is impossible for us to fully understand how God works; and because we, as human beings with finite minds, should not expect to totally comprehend an infinite God.
    Seriously though, ten or so years ago I did spend a long weekend (three days straight w/o sleep) on the internet (mostly at Wikipedia.org trying to make sense (mostly using jurisprudence) of the epic struggle to settle this second thorniest of Christianity’s many disputes. Ultimately, I decided I would believe only in a dancer who knew how to play G_d, not vice versa.
    Fortunately or not, Wikipedia seems to have new articles dealing more directly with this issue.
    Son of God – link to en.wikipedia.org
    Son of man (Christianity) – link to en.wikipedia.org

    • MHughes976
      June 15, 2014, 6:31 pm

      However, most Christians have managed to escape from sectarianism in its violent form and are even reasonably well-disposed to interfaith projects. I am on the Interfaith Concerns Committee of the Oxford Diocese and we really want to be nice to everyone: honestly! The Unitarians, successors to the Arians who weren’t impressed with doctrines of Trinity, Two Natures, Hypostatic Union and so forth, exist peacefully enough.
      Which I would have thought refutes Friedman’s suggestion, if I understand him right, that when disputes have a theological component they are always incomprehensibly ferocious. His implied sneer that theology is especially contentious when it’s Muslim does not really make sense.

    • DICKERSON3870
      June 15, 2014, 6:38 pm

      P.S. RE: “It seemed like a hopelessly “Do or Die” [VIDEO, 07:03], zero-sum game . . .” ~ me (from above, where it contains a bad link)

      CORRECTED LINK: It seemed like a hopelessly “Do or Die” (VIDEO, 07:03), zero-sum game . . .

      P.P.S. RE: “Friedman’s trademark pomposity is also on display.” ~ James North

      AS TO “FRIEDMAN’S TRADEMARK POMPOSITY”, SEE HIM USE THE SILLIEST, MOST ASININE, ANALOGY TO THE DOT-COM BUBBLE IN REFERRING TO A “TERRORISM BUBBLE”. IT IS FOLLOWED BY SAM SEDER CALLING HIM A SOCIOPATH FOR TELLING IRAQ TO “SUCK ON THIS”. FRIEDMAN DOES SEEM QUITE DEMENTED, AS THOUGH HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN OFF HIS MEDS AND/OR SERIOUSLY IN NEED OF SOME NEW MEDS.
      That Time Thomas Friedman Told Iraq to “Suck on This” [VIDEO, 08:53] – link to youtube.com

    • traintosiberia
      June 15, 2014, 7:21 pm

      Friedman could have looked a little closer to home.
      For last 100 years Zionists have been fighting to establish a new religious principle that to escape persecution and enjoy the rightful place in the new dispensation defined by the zionist ,the multitude under its rules have to prove that they have suffered for last couple of thousands of years while maintaining continuous roots to the soil that it controls.

  13. traintosiberia
    June 15, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Dont fire him . He may end up on TV and the rest will be forced to see him .
    One can ignore his printed ramblings but noise from TV will be painfully much more misleading .

  14. quercus
    June 15, 2014, 7:45 pm

    I couldn’t bear to read more than a few paragraphs and then skimmed the rest.

    Truly, Friedman has dropped double digits in his IQ, and from what I’ve read of his columns in the past, he started out at 95.

  15. traintosiberia
    June 15, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Friedman reading an outdated book. Here are the books ,he shuld consult to figure things out

    Oded Yinon Plan . Before that

    Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.

    link to globalresearch.ca

  16. just
    June 15, 2014, 8:02 pm

    I thought my eyes were going to pop out when I read this:

    ““Why did we deal with Stalin?” Graham asked. “Because he’s not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure that Baghdad doesn’t fall. We need to co-ordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get into the game.””

    link to theguardian.com

    I am shocked that Lindsey is taking Zbig’s good advice from Friday. Lindsey also went on to berate Mr. Obama, but that’s his shtick. I think this is the only correct thing to do, and it will be, um, quite entertaining to watch Netanyahu. I wonder how many frantic phone calls he made to the WH while running back and forth to the cameras today…

    Is this all part of what is fueling Netanyahu’s wild allegations?

    (Did Graham and McCain split up?)

  17. Taxi
    June 15, 2014, 10:55 pm

    James North,

    Why don’t you be the first to “fire” Friedman. STOP writing whole articles about him every five seconds. Stop endlessly quoting him. Stop mentioning him – period!

    Just make him subject-matter-non-grata and be done with it already.

  18. piotr
    June 15, 2014, 11:49 pm

    Perhaps Friedman is not an idiot, just an ultra-conventional thinker (of his milieu) who has a schtick of stringing together ideas rather randomly and this sometimes in a bit original way. Plus he is amazingly and amusingly full of himself. Thus his list of “5 recommendation” misses the most obvious point: should the financial and military (weapons, sanctuaries) support to jihadists be continued, or not?

    Right now, that policy is more twisted than a pretzel. In Libya, we supported them with arms and air strikes on regime troops. Then ingrates invaded our consulate that worked as CIA office. In Mali we trained them — although it was when they were still regime officers and before they defected. In Somalia, we paid the Communists to fight them, and we helped the cause with airstrikes (this is not exactly past tense). In Syria, trickles of weapons and money comes through Jordan and Lebanon, and a river from Turkey. So much that the happy recipients have the luxury of fighting over those spoils. In Iraq, we do not give a damn (but the Kingdom does, and helps the jihadis). In Pakistan, they are bad jihadis who cross the border to Afghanistan, we treat them with drones, and good jihadis who cross the border to Iran — so we support them (perhaps? sometimes?) but the government hates them. In Yemen we treat them with drones.

    The latest is a sudden observation that the jihadists are highly peripatetic, and they do not stay put where we want them to be, like in Syria, but move around, like going back to their homes in France, Britain etc. And at occasion they exhibit a combination of extremist attitude with exemplary marksmanship, say, by shooting at a Jewish Museum. (Even if we attribute the shooting in Brussels to anti-Semitism, few anti-Semites like to shoot and even fewer shoot well, but years spend on massacres and training of suicide bombers change that.)

    So the West found out how to engage in policies which are criminal (supplying criminals), immoral (those criminals do not merely violate laws, but elementary norms like not massacring villages, not blowing up bombs at supermarket parking lots etc.) and stupid — as we both support them and kill them, they grow more proficient in killing and more angry. This is question number one, and it did not make Friedman list.

    For the sake of brevity, I will skip another aspect why those policies are stupid: all bad things that the West does are copied assiduously. Then we are aghast: Putin encourages separatists and allows arms to cross the border! Iran is censoring internet! Iran planted worms in Aramco computers! (and we know that they did it because they copied worms that we planted in their computers). China is burning an enormous quantity of fuels!

    • James Canning
      June 16, 2014, 5:56 pm

      Weapons were made available to numerous insurgent groups in Libya, many of which fight each other and engage in extensive criminal activity in the country.

  19. Jackdaw
    June 16, 2014, 3:09 am

    @James North

    ” He does not even recognize that religious sectarianism in Iraq exploded after the American invasion, much less try and explain why.”

    And why did religious sectarianism explode in Syria?

    • Shingo
      June 16, 2014, 7:57 am

      And why did religious sectarianism explode in Syria?

      Because of the rat line the Saudis established between Lybia and Syria, where jihadists and weapons were moved to repeat the destruction they had wrought in Lybia.

    • Shingo
      June 16, 2014, 7:58 am

      And another thing. There is a reason ISIS is called the Islamic state of Iraq and the Lebant. It started in Iraq.

      • Jackdaw
        June 16, 2014, 10:41 am

        Foreign fighters from Iran, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa and Europe meddled in Syria, not the United States. What’s happening in Iraq presently is consequential blowback and the United States is blameless for that.

      • Hostage
        June 16, 2014, 11:56 am

        Foreign fighters from Iran, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa and Europe meddled in Syria, not the United States.

        Correction: the US invasion and occupation of Iraq drove more than a million refugees into exile in Syria at the height of the hostilities. There is also hard evidence that the current US administration has been laundering its weapons and training for the Syrian rebels through sales and foreign assistance to the Gulf States.

      • Jackdaw
        June 16, 2014, 3:26 pm

        @Hostage

        No correction is needed.

        Ten long years ago when Syria hosted Iraqi refugees, the Iraqi refugees were treated well.

        The United States toppled a dictatorship and replaced it with a democracy.
        That the Iraqi democracy failed is the result of the failings of the al Maliki government combined with an out of control Syrian civil war on Iraq’s porous border.
        Neither the flawed Iraqi government nor the Syrian conflict have anything to do with the United States.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 16, 2014, 3:37 pm

        there’s too much wrong with your comment to list all of it so i’m just picking one thing

        The United States toppled a dictatorship and replaced it with a democracy.

        the US determined who was allowed to run, and win. hence it’s not a democracy. maliki was pliant, he wasn’t the first choice of the iraqi people, the candidates.

        maliki is a dictator too.

      • James Canning
        June 16, 2014, 5:43 pm

        I would question a claim the US in effect installed Nouri al-Maliki.

      • Shingo
        June 16, 2014, 9:16 pm

        The United States toppled a dictatorship and replaced it with a democracy.

        No, the United States toppled a dictatorship and replaced it with another.

        That the Iraqi democracy failed is the result of the failings of the al Maliki government combined with an out of control Syrian civil war on Iraq’s porous border.

        No, the Iraqi democracy failed because it was installed at the barrel of a gun and was entirely artificial. The US had no desire to install democracy in Iraq. The original aim was to install Ahmed Chalabi into Saddam’s palaces and continue from where Saddam had left off. It was only after Ali Al Sistani mobilized 300,000 Shiites to demand free and open elections that the US agreed to hold elections at all.

        Neither the flawed Iraqi government nor the Syrian conflict have anything to do with the United States.

        There would be no AQ in Iraq were it not for the US. The jihadists in Syria were airlifted out of Lybia by the Saudis (with US support) and have been armed and trained by the US out of Jordan.

      • Hostage
        June 16, 2014, 5:19 pm

        No correction is needed.

        Ten long years ago when Syria hosted Iraqi refugees, the Iraqi refugees were treated well.

        Bullshit, tens of thousands of them had a legitimate fear of persecution and opted to resettle. They never came back, until the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. See Iraq | Refugees International link to refugeesinternational.org

      • Shingo
        June 16, 2014, 9:12 pm

        There is also hard evidence that the current US administration has been laundering its weapons and training for the Syrian rebels through sales and foreign assistance to the Gulf States.

        In fact, Sy Hersh wrote about this in his piece called the Redirection in 2007, where he documented how the Bush administration backed and trained Sunni jihadists to create unrest in Syria and Lebanon as a way to try and destabilize Iran.
        link to newyorker.com

      • Shingo
        June 16, 2014, 9:09 pm

        Foreign fighters from Iran, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa and Europe meddled in Syria, not the United States.

        Rubbish. The foreign fighters from Iran were there to defend the largely secular regime. The extremists are Sunni jihadists dufus.

        And yes, there are foreign fighters from the US too.
        link to foxnews.com

        What’s happening in Iraq presently is consequential blowback and the United States is blameless for that.

        Don’t be stupid. Blowback is the consequence of US actions, so the US is entirely responsible for that. There was no AQ or Jihadists in Iraq prior to 2003. The reason ISIS calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq is because it was born and radicalized by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    • James Canning
      June 16, 2014, 5:48 pm

      Foreign fighters of an extreme Sunni bent did the job in Syria.

    • talknic
      June 16, 2014, 8:02 pm

      @Jackdaw “And why did religious sectarianism explode in Syria?”

      Syria was on the PNAC list of states to fall in order for the US to maintain influence over the M East

      Interesting to note just prior to the armed uprising, the Syrian Govt was in the process of helping the Syrian Jewish community refurbish a number of Synagogues. Also rather odd that Israel’s propagandists claim there are no Jews living in the Arab States, when in fact there are.

      • just
        June 16, 2014, 8:15 pm

        There’s an interesting article up at The Guardian:

        “The sectarian myth of Iraq
        We coexisted peacefully for centuries, and need neither brutal dictators nor western intervention”

        link to theguardian.com

  20. Walid
    June 16, 2014, 11:35 am

    Since Iraq is still being discussed here, some unpleasant news of assassination of clerics and civilians, looting and the burning of churches and government buildings coming out of Mosul. From the Assyrian International News Agency:

    According to reports from Mosul, ISIS has gone on a rampage, looting and burning government buildings, raising its black flag throughout the city and burning churches. According to an AFP report, it stormed the Turkish consulate yesterday and kidnapped 48 people including the head of the diplomatic mission.

    World Watch Monitor reported that ISIS have moved into Christian areas near Mosul, and have occupied the Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) village of Qaraqosh and entered the St. Behnam Monastery.

    ISIS has warned the Christian residents of Mosul, specifically women, to wear the Islamic veil. The warnings have come at checkpoints setup throughout the city by ISIS. The husband of an Assyrian woman was abducted at a checkpoint and threatened with death if his wife did not don the Islamic veil.

    ISIS members bombed an Armenian church which was under construction in the Left Bank neighborhood, near al-Salaam hospital.

    The Church of the Holy Spirit was looted by ISIS members, who removed most of its electrical equipment.

    Patriarch Sako of the Chaldean Church issued a statement to Fides, saying “We believe that the best solution to all these problems is the creation of a government of national unity in order to strengthen the control of the State and the rule of law in order to protect the Country, its citizens and their property and preserve national unity.”

    With photo of St. Etchmiadzin Armenian church on fire following attacks by ISIS.

    link to aina.org

  21. MRW
    June 17, 2014, 1:31 am

    @James North,

    Good for you. Great piece. Send it to the NYT Ombudsman.

  22. piotr
    June 17, 2014, 8:43 am

    Concerning the outsourcing suggestion, I am skeptical, because the intellectual tone of the new columns could be inappropriate for the average reader of NYT. Luckily, there are some unemployed baby pandas who were fired from their position of soccer match forecasters. Their accuracy record was rather poor, but it would not get worse (compared to the replaced column), and most importantly, baby pandas are very cute.
    link to rt.com

    Update: pandas were not fired but relieved of their position out of worry about the psychological effects (hostile e-mails from readers?) and replaced with turtles that are more mentally stable. Some combination of cuteness and mental stability is surely possible. That kind of describes Maureen Dowd, but wouldn’t little turtles be even more cute?

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