Sunday, December 03, 2006

Glenn Greenwald on Thomas Friedman

Like it or not, up-to-date readers following this war must come to terms with Glenn Greenwald's takedown of Friedman. It is a metaphor for everything that has gone wrong and continues to go wrong. As you read, forget that he is writing about Friedman because Friedman is only an image. His contradictions and shortcomings are more than character flaws, they represent a mindset, an attitude typical of many (if not most?) who have anything to do with either waging or supporting this war.

The link is widely distributed, but I got it from Blake Hounshell's blog, American Footprints, where Eric Martin's excellent remarks are also worth reading. I love the post title: We're All Liberals Now, but it's really nothing more than a cute play on words. Waking up to the insanity of what America is perpetrating in Iraq hardly qualifies anyone to be called "Liberal" in my book.

Those of us who have watched this horror show for the last two years -- long after passing those other "preemptive first strike" and "regime change" stages -- are mentally at the point of wanting to slap a yapping, disrespectful, out-of-hand child full in the face simply to get his attention. We are constrained from doing so because though it might feel good, it is only child abuse. Damn, I really feel ready to slap someone from time. But I digress. Go read the links...

To support a war that you know is going to be executed in a destructive manner is as morally monstrous as it gets. The fact that there is some idealized, Platonic way to fight the war doesn't make that any better if you know that that isn't what is going to happen. We learn in adolescence that wanting things that we can't have -- pining for things that aren't real or possible -- is futile and irrational. To apply that adolescent fantasy world to war advocacy is the hallmark of a deeply frivolous and amoral person.


Establishment Washington is concerned right now with only one thing - saving their own credibility and reputation. The reason why The Washington Post's David Ignatius said recently that Chuck Hagel was "right about Iraq and other key issues earlier than almost any national politician, Republican or Democratic" -- even though Hagel favored the invasion and many "national politicians" opposed it from the beginning -- is because the Washington Establishment still thinks that those who opposed the war from the beginning don't count, that they're still the unserious, know-nothing losers who should be ignored.


Establishment Washington really is not interested in how to end this horrendous and despicable debacle we unleashed in Iraq. They are not interested in how to maximize U.S. interests. They are only interested in how to find a way to bring this disaster to some sort of slow resolution that looks as though it is a respectable and decent outcome -- anything that makes it seem like it wasn't a horrendous mistake in the first place...

...what is being done now is exactly what Tom Friedman did before the war -- we continue to endorse a policy (staying in Iraq) even though we consciously know that no good can come from it and that it will produce nothing but bad results, and we justify that based on the fantasy that we could, in theory, improve things. Tom Friedman is a morally bankrupt narcissist whose only devotion is to the self-love of his own genius. He emphatically advocated the war beforehand but included every caveat possible so that, no matter what happened, he could claim to have been right, which is exactly what he has been doing.

But tragically, there is nothing unique about Tom Friedman. What drives him is the same mentality that enabled the administration's invasion of Iraq and, so much worse, it is the mentality that is keeping us there and will keep us there for the indefinite future. We stay in Iraq in pursuit of goals we know are fantasies, because to do otherwise requires the geniuses and serious establishment analysts to accept responsibility for what they have done -- and that is, by far, the most feared and despised outcome.

The invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake. But the behavior of our political and media leaders after that, and now, reveal that they are not just bereft of judgment but entirely bereft of character.

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