With today’s column [“The End, for Now“], after a brief flirtation with inconvenient truths about Israel, Thomas Friedman sinks back into the pattern of self-serving mendacity. There are probably more falsehoods and inferential falsehoods per square inch in this column than in any previously published by the Times; the only possible rivals are something by Safire, or something else by Friedman.
It says: we bombed, invaded, and occupied Iraq to change “the context of Arab
politics” and address “the root causes of Arab state dysfunction.” A regional
paradigm shifter: that’s all it was. And the word Israel is not spoken once.
He uses the name “Al-Qaeda” several times, to designate the major enemy of the
U.S. in the insurgency; not informing his readers that “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” came
into existence after the U.S. invasion, around 2005, and that its recruitment
tool was the occupation itself. Unlike Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, “Al Qaeda in Iraq”
did not exist before 2003. We created this new “root cause” of disorder in “the
context of Arab politics.”
Friedman’s story is worse than the assembly-line platitudes of Obama at Fort
Bragg on December 14: “Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices
for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.” Obama’s was a
generic appeal to national self-love, and would be understood, even by its
military audience, as part of the job of a politician who isn’t particularly
concerned with the truth. Friedman, by contrast, rewrites the facts of history
as palpably as the Cheney circle did when they suggested that Saddam Hussein
“attacked us on 9/11.”
These lies get lodged in people’s minds and stick. That is their purpose. And,
just as Leon Panetta recently repeated the “Iraq bombed us on 9/11” falsehood
to American soldiers in Iraq, and then had to issue a retraction, so now will
dozens of Congressmen and columnists and opinion makers lower down the media
ladder repeat Friedman’s rechristening of the insurgency “Al-Qaeda.” But here,
there will be no retractions.