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The Nation has done a great expose of perhaps the most influential voice for U.S. imperialism, Thomas Friedman but in my opinion it did not go far enough. I will first start with what I thought was excellent muckraker journalism from the Nation (specifically Robert Scheer), in exposing Friedman by quoting two paragraphs:

President Bush’s argument for the invasion was not based on democratic nation-building but rather on two specific lies that Friedman has long danced around: that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened US security and that it was somehow linked to the 9/11 attacks. Friedman now insists “Iraq was always a war of choice. As I never bought the argument that Saddam had nukes that had to be taken out, the decision to go to war stemmed for me from a different choice: Could we...tilt it and the region onto a democratizing track?”

That is not quite true, for Friedman had been pushing the notion of an Iraqi nuclear threat as far back as July 7, 1991, when he severely criticized the first President Bush for leaving Saddam in power in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, arguing that “Mr. Hussein has a unique personal incentive to continue trying to obtain a nuclear weapon quickly.” Friedman wrote critically of what he considered President Bill Clinton’s tepid response to Iraq’s supposed WMD threat, with the columnist warning in December of 2002 that “Saddam Hussein was an expert at hiding his war toys and, having four years without inspections, had probably buried everything good under mosques or cemeteries.”

I find these two paragraphs particularly very detrimental to his character because they reveal that not only is Friedman an insidious imperialist (and I will explain why later), but that he uses the technique of deceit to distance himself from his lies and later absolve himself when the facts are contrary to his rationale.

Now why do I call Thomas Friedman an imperialist? Because his thought patterns are simply the regurgitation of European imperialists in the age of colonization, like say, Rudyard Kipling who believed imperialism and the white-man’s burden went hand in hand and that it was the duty of the west to bring civilization to benighted cultures throughout the world. Friedman like Neil Ferguson, Jeffrey Goldberg and Fouad Ajami, also advocates the same thing, the same white-man’s burden now reclassified as “democracy” and “freedom.”

As the Nation correctly states:

At the core of Friedman’s worldview is the assumption that the most brutal and contradictory applications of US-supplied military power are by definition civilizing because this nation owns the brand defining freedom and democracy. The preservation of that brand, no matter the lengths of deceit required, is for Friedman the inevitably noble end that justifies the most despicable of means.

The problem with Friedman however is that despite the fact of being both a propagandist (remember he wants us to think that we are on a “civilizing” mission by going to wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan) and an insidious imperialist he is not a good propagandist or an insidious imperialist and his occasional Freudian slips shine a spotlight inward towards his hidden intents as noted by Belen Fernandez (reiterated by alternet’s Sandra Siagin):
In the "Arab/Muslim World" chapter, she quotes Friedman as concluding that the "short answer" for why the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in response to 9/11 "is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave".

So Friedman in fact does not want to bring civilization to Iraq or Afghanistan, he wants the U.S. military to encroach near Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in order to secure American interests and hegemony.

But if Friedman were truly a man who believes might should be used for “civilizing” purposes then he suffers from convenient amnesia and strays from that principle when it best suits his needs.

As Glenn Greenwald points out Friedman’s might is right policies are not restrained solely for the preservation or creation of democracy and freedom. Friedman has a more sinister use for force and these are his own words reiterated by Greenwald:

It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

The targeting and killing of civilian casualties is an act of terrorism and a violation of international law. To endorse such an act makes one an apologist for war crimes and Friedman is an apologist for both terrorism and war crimes and there is nothing civilizing about war crimes, according to the UN.

Friedman also has a habit of leaving his role as a supposed journalist and playing Nostradamus. Friedman repeatedly said that the “end game” in Iraq was going to come in the next six months. It turns out when FAIR reported this news, Friedman’s six months turned into two years.

At the present those six months have stretched to over five years. I am still amazed as to why anyone still takes him seriously when his forecasts have been repeating the same lies year after year.  

To find out more about Thomas Friedman’s imperialistic musings I urge you all to read “The Imperial Messenger” by Belen Fernandez

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