Posts tagged Tom Friedman

Team sport

Thomas Friedman is a Very Serious Commentator.

Here is Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times’s resident global brain, commentating on defense spending and other government monopolies.

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say moon shots I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

This contrast is not good. . . . We’re out of balance — the balance between security and prosperity. We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (2010-09-25): Their Moon Shot and Ours

Fuck yeah, electric cars! We need a dream team for them. If we aren’t assembling a dream team of 16 state-owned enterprises — by which is meant, of course, giving away $15,000,000,000 to politically-connected monopolistic corporations — in order to produce our own electric cars, how is Team U.S.A. ever going to get into the Civilizational Play-offs? And if we — by which Friedman means they — aren’t going to the Civilizational Super-Bowl, who are you going to root for? The European Union? Haw, haw, haw. And without American electric cars, how would you even get to the game? Certainly not in a Chinese-made electric car — who ever heard of buying things that were made in China? In any case, Chinese electric cars will no doubt be too small to fit our giant American We’re #1 foam fingers into the passenger seat.

In all seriousness, far be it from me to complain if somebody suggests that U.S. military spending is out of control, or points out that every dollar seized by the government and used to build bombs and killing machines and to pay for perpetual military occupation, is a dollar that is taken away from peace, progress, and from meeting the needs of ordinary people. But if the only alternative to imperial war that you can think up is imperial political economy — if the only alternative on offer is to have the money keep on getting seized by belligerent national governments and their bureaucratic dream teams of political capitalists, for the purpose of beating other belligerent national governments and their favored political capitalists in an inane Cold War-style technological race — if the only alternative on offer is to encourage this psychotic identification of people with the governments and state-capitalist predators who oppress and exploit them, as if the triumphs of this hostile and parasitic minority were our triumphs, as if the profit margins of our corporate-welfare firms were more important than human achievement, as if the important thing about a technology is not what it does for people but where it is made (and which belligerent government gets to tax it) — if, I say, the only alternative you have is to have the government turn its massive violence from warfare abroad to taxation and class warfare at home, in order to conscript us all into making world trade the arena for the continuation of war by other means — then you, sir, are talking with a corpse in your mouth.

(Story via John @ Blagnet.net 2010-10-02.)

Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice

Are we about to turn a corner in Iraq, or should we just cut our losses and get out now? How much longer should we let things play out before we take a decisive step towards disengagement? Let’s ask Tom Friedman, the New York Times’s resident Sensible Liberal and global brain. Apparently, we need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until November or December of 2006. Then we’ll know:

Well, I think that we’re going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we’re going to have to just let this play out.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Hardball, MSNBC (May 11, 2006)

How much longer should we let things play out before we take a decisive step towards disengagement? Let’s ask Tom Friedman, the New York Times’s resident Sensible Liberal and global brain. Apparently, we need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until March or April of 2004. Then we’ll know:

The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (November 30, 2003)

We should let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until December of 2004 or January of 2005. Then we’ll know:

What I absolutely don’t understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of—I know a lot of these guys—reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it’s over. I don’t get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what’s the rush? Can we let this play out, please?

— Thomas L. Friedman, Fresh Air, NPR (June 3, 2004)

The next six months are critical. Give it until April or May of 2005. Then we’ll know:

What we’re gonna find out, Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Face the Nation, CBS (October 3, 2004)

Give it until June or July of 2005:

Improv time is over. This is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months. But it won’t be won with high rhetoric. It will be won on the ground in a war over the last mile.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (November 28, 2004)

We’re in the end game now. Give it until March or April of 2006:

I think we’re in the end game now…. I think we’re in a six-month window here where it’s going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt I think the next congressional election—that’s my own feeling—let alone the presidential one.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Press (September 25, 2005)

Give it until March or April of 2006:

Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won’t, then we are wasting our time.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (September 28, 2005)

June or July of 2006:

We’ve teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it’s going to come together.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Face the Nation (December 18, 2005)

July to October of 2006:

I think that we’re going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding. In which case, I think the American people as a whole will want to play it out or whether it really is a fool’s errand.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Oprah Winfrey Show (January 23, 2006)

We’re in the end game now. We’ll see by sometime around May to July of 2006:

I think we’re in the end game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We’ve got for the first time an Iraqi government elected on the basis of an Iraqi constitution. Either they’re going to produce the kind of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near term, in which case America will stick with it, or they’re not, in which case I think the bottom’s going to fall out.

—Thomas L. Friedman, CBS (January 31, 2006)

We’re in the end game now. We’ll see by sometime around September to December of 2006:

I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq. —Thomas L. Friedman, Today, NBC (March 2, 2006)

We need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until November or December of 2006. Then we’ll know:

Well, I think that we’re going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we’re going to have to just let this play out.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Hardball, MSNBC (May 11, 2006)

Next month: Tom Friedman thinks that we’re going to find out whether it’s time to leave Iraq in the next six months! Give it until January 2007…

Be sure to bear in mind, in case you are confused, that there are always more corners to turn when you are lost in an endless maze.

(Quotes thanks to FAIR 2006-05-16. Link thanks to Dominion Weblog 2006-05-16.)

State of the Union suggestions

So it seems that Tom Friedman isn’t happy with the State of the Union speech that he’s likely to get; he decided to play make believe and write his own speech for Bush to read. If I recall correctly, this routine has been part of Friedman’s schtick for a few years; the whole thing seems more than just a bit self-important to me, but then, so does the State of the Union speech. Friedman’s idea, it seems, is that Bush should suddenly change into an alternative energy crank (or perhaps skip halfway steps and just suddenly change into Tom Friedman); and that he should use the bully pulpit to expound his newfound faith and lay down a Kennedyesque challenge to the American energy industry. (If he does not jawbone us about Friedman’s pet cause, apparently, you can stick a fork in the Bush Presidency.) So here’s what he’s informed Mr. Bush he’d like to hear tonight:

My fellow Americans, on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy gave an extraordinary State of the Union address in which he called on the nation to marshal all of its resources to put a man on the Moon. By setting that lofty goal, Kennedy was trying to summon all our industrial and scientific talent, and a willingness to sacrifice financially, to catch up with the Soviet Union, which had overtaken America in the field of large rocket engines.

While we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, Kennedy said, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.

I come to you this evening with a similar challenge. President Kennedy was worried about the threat that communism posed to our way of life. I am here to tell you that if we don’t move away from our dependence on oil and shift to renewable fuels, it will change our way of life for the worse — and soon — much, much more than communism ever could have. Making this transition is the calling of our era. …

— Tom Friedman, New York Times (2006-01-27): State of the Union

… and so on, and so forth.

Well, I have my own ideas about what’s important. So I humbly submit my own speech for Mr. Bush to consider giving tonight. I know that this is last minute, but it would be surprisingly easy for him to memorize. And I think it’s important. If Mr. Bush steps up to this challenge, the speech could be a new beginning for our country. If he doesn’t, you can stick a fork in this administration. It will be done — because it will have abdicated leadership on the biggest issue of our day. So here’s the speech I’ll be listening for tonight:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Cheney, members of Congress, fellow Americans…

I resign.

Anything else is just going to mean more of the same old bullshit.

Postscript

Just remember: when these folks get in front of the camera they just lie. Politicians’ aims are political victory, not truth, and not justice. Hanging on the words and dickering about this or that point and fuming about this or that plain non sequitur will be talking past them entirely. You may as well spend the same amount of time cleaning your house, or sorting old photographs, or sucking on lemons.

Pointing out some piece of plain nonsense may have some value in provoking other people—the so-called rank and file, i.e., you and me—to think for a moment; and it may be worthwhile to use it to call on those other people to discourse that moves a bit beyond the braying of talking-points. But lingering on the endless talk of politicians or the professional political windbags inside the Beltway, as if these folks care what we think, or about what is true, is like trying to beat a street hustler at his three-card monty. It’s a scam. Just walk away.

— GT 2005-02-02: The State of the Union: live-blogged for you!