Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thomas Friedman is very inconsistent

As many have already noted, Thomas Friedman's latest column in the New York Times is idiotic. Friedman has a long history of making idiotic comments, but for the purpose of this blog I want to highlight a specific example of Inconsistency he commits. He begins by addressing the current situation in Syria and comparing it to Iraq:
And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can’t go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.
The conclusion then is that the problems of Syria can only be resolved via some sort of large scale military intervention. A military intervention that, in Friedman's opinion, is the only way to prevent Syria from reverting to a Hobbesian state of nature. This is all fine and good, but a few paragraphs later in the same editorial he writes:
Because of both U.S. incompetence and the nature of Iraq, this U.S. intervention triggered a civil war in which all the parties in Iraq — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — tested the new balance of power, inflicting enormous casualties on each other and leading, tragically, to ethnic cleansing that rearranged the country into more homogeneous blocks of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
So, rather than the "well-armed external midwife" of the US preventing civil war, Friedman now argues that the US was one of the causal factors for that civil war. This is a serious inconsistency. Either the US can prevent civil war through military action or it can't.One can't argue that it can do both at the same time. Then, in the very next sentence he writes:
But the U.S. presence in Iraq contained that civil war and ethnic cleansing from spreading to neighboring states.
So, to follow Friedman's argument, the US is necessary to prevent civil war, but the US caused civil war, but it prevented the civil war it caused from spilling into neighboring countries. Given this kind of reasoning, one might legitimately ask why it was necessary for the US to go and start a civil war in the first place. Given these kind of radically contradictory and inconsistent claims, all made in the same editorial sometimes one immediately after the other, I have to seriously question whether or not Friedman actually reads the stuff he writes. And I must further ask why his editors let him get away with this nonsense.

h/t to Glenn Greenwald

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