Friedman's folly

The pathological distaste that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has shown for President Bush is well—known. He is just one of the many columnists at the Times who feel obligated to disparage George Bush at every turn (think Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd). Perhaps Friedman has tired of his own shtick and wants to stand out on his own in a new role: the Arab League's Ambassador to America.

A review of Friedman's past columns reveals that he has long since departed from being an objective and insightful analyst of world events. Having won a few Pulitzer prizes, become wealthy through his wife and his writing, Friedman seems to relish the challenge of becoming a player in —— and not just an observer of —— world affairs. However, which team is he playing on? A dispassionate observer would be led to conclude that he is an Arabist in journalist's clothing.

In February 2002, Friedman used his column to introduce to the world the much—ballyhooed Saudi peace plan. Supposedly, Friedman was in the office of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, discussing the Middle East. Friedman was proposing solutions to the Israeli—Palestinian conflict when, suddenly, the Prince agreed to Friedman's proposals and stated that he had just such a plan in his desk drawer. This plan would have given Israel empty promises of full normalization with the Arab world in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 armistice lines and a solution to the refugee issue. Well, we see what full normalization means with Egypt and Jordan (no Ambassadors, war gaming in Egypt with Israel as the enemy, tunnels starting in Egypt being used to smuggle weapons to terrorists in Gaza, anti—Semitic press). Friedman and the Times promoted this "plan" for months with an unseemly zeal —— despite the great risks it posed for our ally, Israel.  Crown Prince Abdullah, the great peacemaker,  is, of course,  the same individual who this week blamed the attack on foreign oilfield workers in Saudi Årabia  on "Zionists".

Yesterday's column is just the latest demonstration of Friedman's Ambassadorial actions. Here he condemns the disgraceful behavior of the few soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal —— a similar criticism has been voiced by just about everyone. Not satisfied with this rote critique, he expands his criticism to calling for the firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and then demands that President Bush convene a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the heads of both NATO and the UN, and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Notice who is not invited to this meeting? The same country that does not exist on the maps of the four Arab countries he would invite to Camp David.  At this meeting Friedman urges President Bush to "eat crow, apologize for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page".

The Arab League would hail this turn of events! After all, firing the Secretary of Defense would create some degree of havoc in our military, while we are fighting a war against Islamic extremism. The Arabs would celebrate the firing of someone they blame for defeating two Muslim nations: Afghanistan and Iraq. The Arabs also loathe Rumsfeld for his realistic appraisal of the threats Israel faces: he has stated that "Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea."

Furthermore, can any man who heads an enormous bureaucracy actually be blamed for the acts of malfeasance of a few people in some remote, grubby prison? Does Rumsfeld have a monitor on his desk broadcasting streaming video from the military prisons around the world?

Friedman's call for President Bush to abase himself in front of Arab potentates, thugs, corrupt rulers, and tyrants is obscene and morally obtuse. Terrorists are inspired by American weakness, and this would be almost the apotheosis of extremist dreams (just short of the destruction of Western society). Bush would be apologizing to the very people who have spread terror and hatred around the world —— through the funding of madrassas, support of "preachers of hate", indoctrination of children, brainwashing them through Arab media. Egyptians and Saudi Arabians were flying the 9/11 planes. Did they apologize?

There is a famous story of King Hussein flying to Israel after Jordanian terrorists murdered some Israelis during their tour of Jordan. He met with the victims' families and abjectly and honorably offered his apologies.  Did the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia likewise apologize for 9/11? No...the Saudi Prince who visited the WTC site instead blamed America for the attacks! These are the type of people we should be apologizing to, Tom?

Freidman has certainly adapted well in his new role as the Arab League Ambassador. He is as illogical and inane as any ordinary Arab diplomat can be. Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are themselves world centers of torture. So why should we apologize to them? Hasn't it been much—rumored that America  sent captured terrorists to Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for some "special treatment" that we would not  and could not practice on our own? Does Friedman find it permissible for these Arab nations to practice torture on their own people while he calls for the President to kneel before Arab tyrants and appeal for absolution for the uber—hazing perpetrated by a few wayward soldiers?

Friedman has always enjoyed being treated as an important world leader in Arab capitals —— the most important writer on the Middle East from America's most important newspaper. But Friedman seems to have graduated from the predictable big headedness such a role entails, to an even grander position of self—importance —— becoming the spokesperson for the Arab world.,

So, thanks for the offer to solve the world's problems, Tom, but no thanks.  The Arab world has already bought enough journalists and diplomats in America, and has plenty of its own people spewing their vile anti—American and anti—Israel bile.

NB: the editor is responsible for earlier mistakenly attributing authorship of this article to Richard Baehr, who contributed a few editorial suggestions to the original author, Ed Lasky.

The pathological distaste that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has shown for President Bush is well—known. He is just one of the many columnists at the Times who feel obligated to disparage George Bush at every turn (think Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd). Perhaps Friedman has tired of his own shtick and wants to stand out on his own in a new role: the Arab League's Ambassador to America.

A review of Friedman's past columns reveals that he has long since departed from being an objective and insightful analyst of world events. Having won a few Pulitzer prizes, become wealthy through his wife and his writing, Friedman seems to relish the challenge of becoming a player in —— and not just an observer of —— world affairs. However, which team is he playing on? A dispassionate observer would be led to conclude that he is an Arabist in journalist's clothing.

In February 2002, Friedman used his column to introduce to the world the much—ballyhooed Saudi peace plan. Supposedly, Friedman was in the office of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, discussing the Middle East. Friedman was proposing solutions to the Israeli—Palestinian conflict when, suddenly, the Prince agreed to Friedman's proposals and stated that he had just such a plan in his desk drawer. This plan would have given Israel empty promises of full normalization with the Arab world in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 armistice lines and a solution to the refugee issue. Well, we see what full normalization means with Egypt and Jordan (no Ambassadors, war gaming in Egypt with Israel as the enemy, tunnels starting in Egypt being used to smuggle weapons to terrorists in Gaza, anti—Semitic press). Friedman and the Times promoted this "plan" for months with an unseemly zeal —— despite the great risks it posed for our ally, Israel.  Crown Prince Abdullah, the great peacemaker,  is, of course,  the same individual who this week blamed the attack on foreign oilfield workers in Saudi Årabia  on "Zionists".

Yesterday's column is just the latest demonstration of Friedman's Ambassadorial actions. Here he condemns the disgraceful behavior of the few soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal —— a similar criticism has been voiced by just about everyone. Not satisfied with this rote critique, he expands his criticism to calling for the firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and then demands that President Bush convene a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the heads of both NATO and the UN, and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Notice who is not invited to this meeting? The same country that does not exist on the maps of the four Arab countries he would invite to Camp David.  At this meeting Friedman urges President Bush to "eat crow, apologize for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page".

The Arab League would hail this turn of events! After all, firing the Secretary of Defense would create some degree of havoc in our military, while we are fighting a war against Islamic extremism. The Arabs would celebrate the firing of someone they blame for defeating two Muslim nations: Afghanistan and Iraq. The Arabs also loathe Rumsfeld for his realistic appraisal of the threats Israel faces: he has stated that "Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea."

Furthermore, can any man who heads an enormous bureaucracy actually be blamed for the acts of malfeasance of a few people in some remote, grubby prison? Does Rumsfeld have a monitor on his desk broadcasting streaming video from the military prisons around the world?

Friedman's call for President Bush to abase himself in front of Arab potentates, thugs, corrupt rulers, and tyrants is obscene and morally obtuse. Terrorists are inspired by American weakness, and this would be almost the apotheosis of extremist dreams (just short of the destruction of Western society). Bush would be apologizing to the very people who have spread terror and hatred around the world —— through the funding of madrassas, support of "preachers of hate", indoctrination of children, brainwashing them through Arab media. Egyptians and Saudi Arabians were flying the 9/11 planes. Did they apologize?

There is a famous story of King Hussein flying to Israel after Jordanian terrorists murdered some Israelis during their tour of Jordan. He met with the victims' families and abjectly and honorably offered his apologies.  Did the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia likewise apologize for 9/11? No...the Saudi Prince who visited the WTC site instead blamed America for the attacks! These are the type of people we should be apologizing to, Tom?

Freidman has certainly adapted well in his new role as the Arab League Ambassador. He is as illogical and inane as any ordinary Arab diplomat can be. Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are themselves world centers of torture. So why should we apologize to them? Hasn't it been much—rumored that America  sent captured terrorists to Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for some "special treatment" that we would not  and could not practice on our own? Does Friedman find it permissible for these Arab nations to practice torture on their own people while he calls for the President to kneel before Arab tyrants and appeal for absolution for the uber—hazing perpetrated by a few wayward soldiers?

Friedman has always enjoyed being treated as an important world leader in Arab capitals —— the most important writer on the Middle East from America's most important newspaper. But Friedman seems to have graduated from the predictable big headedness such a role entails, to an even grander position of self—importance —— becoming the spokesperson for the Arab world.,

So, thanks for the offer to solve the world's problems, Tom, but no thanks.  The Arab world has already bought enough journalists and diplomats in America, and has plenty of its own people spewing their vile anti—American and anti—Israel bile.

NB: the editor is responsible for earlier mistakenly attributing authorship of this article to Richard Baehr, who contributed a few editorial suggestions to the original author, Ed Lasky.