Saturday, May 08, 2004
Friedman proposes that Bush concede imminent failure in Iraq and grovel to the world:
Mr. Bush needs to invite to Camp David the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the heads of both NATO and the U.N., and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. There, he needs to eat crow, apologize for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page. Second, he needs to explain that we are losing in Iraq, and if we continue to lose the U.S. public will eventually demand that we quit Iraq, and it will then become Afghanistan-on-steroids, which will threaten everyone. Third, he needs to say he will be guided by the U.N. in forming the new caretaker government in Baghdad. And fourth, he needs to explain that he is ready to listen to everyone's ideas about how to expand our force in Iraq, and have it work under a new U.N. mandate, so it will have the legitimacy it needs to crush any uprisings against the interim Iraqi government and oversee elections — and then leave when appropriate. And he needs to urge them all to join in.
While, unlike Allah, I have huge respect for Tom Friedman's work, taken as a whole, this is a terrible idea. One might put it this way (warning - "bad words"):
I want you to step back for a moment and imagine the president of the United States begging forgiveness from the leader of a country which picks up the check for Sunni terrorist operations all over the world; which has been working for decades to spread Wahhabism to mosques and madrassas on every continent; which itself engages in interrogation tactics far more draconian than the ones American troops are being accused of (a point Friedman acknowledges); which produced fifteen of the nineteen degenerates who knocked down the World Trade Center; and which, as recently as last week, blamed "Zionists" for its various chickens having recently come home to roost. Go on, imagine it. If you're having trouble, here's something from the MEMRI ticker to help make the picture a little more vivid:
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Sa'ud al-Faisal said regarding statements by Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah that Zionist hands were behind the May 1 attack in Yunbu': "It is not hidden from anyone that extremist Zionist elements are engaging in a vulgar campaign against the Kingdom by espousing and disseminating lies and incitement against the Saudi government . . . The terror operations taking place today serve the interests of the extremist Zionist elements, and this means that they [the perpetrators of the operations and the Zionist elements] share common interests." An Interior Ministry communique accused Israel of connections to Al Qaeda. (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, 5/5/04)
Still can't imagine it? What if you were personally acquainted with the leader in question, had dined with him on occasion, and were indebted to him for having laid on you a world-class scoop in the not-too-distant past? What if you had a high-paying gig as foreign affairs correspondent for the world's most famous newspaper and your career depended upon your maintaining access to all the major shithole tyrannies of the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria--coincidentally, the very same countries whose shoes Tom wants Bush to shine? Can you imagine it now? Great. Oh, and can you also imagine largely ignoring all the bad stuff? Because troublemakers don't get invited onto the yacht.
It's not Friedman's Arab toadying that's so galling, though. Anyone who's read him over the past few years has long since gotten used to that. What's galling is his suggestion that a sufficiently humiliating apology for what happened at Abu Ghraib might actually have an effect on world opinion--as though anti-Americanism were something keyed to specific events rather than to broad differences in ideology. Friedman would have us believe there are teeming multitudes out there who want to like us, are trying to like us, but just can't get a leg over because we keep doing awful things to break their hearts. Luckily, they're so open-minded and forgiving that we might be able to win them back if we put the Friedman plan into action and have Bush give Hosni Mubarak a rim job. Which, of course, is horseshit. If anti-Americanism is as rational and fact-intensive as Friedman implies, why does it seem to be flourishing in places notorious for their violent, irrational prejudices? France is Europe's most anti-American country; to hear people who live there tell it, it's also on the verge of some kind of Nazi renaissance. What would Friedman's shame orgy accomplish in the minds of people like that except maybe give Le Monde's douchebag cartoonist the chance to draw Bush weeping tears that look like little oil barrels or something?
As I said, read the whole thing, and click through some of the links.