I've read the transcript before, but the actual video needs to be seen to understand what I've referred to as the "9/11 Syndrome:"
This site proudly embraces "unimedia" (as opposed to multimedia) but I had to make an exception in this case. Keep in mind that this interview was a couple months after the war in Iraq began but displays the thinking of Thomas Friedman, one of only several "liberals" who felt the best response to 9/11 was to whip it out and shove it down their throats. And lest you think I'm being vulgar and coarse, maybe you ought to watch that one-minute clip again. Thinking about Friedman's livid (listen to his voice, look at his eyes widening, his wild gesticulations) explanation of America's post-9/11 foreign policy, is it any wonder that things like Abu Ghraib happened? Think about it.
We as a nation gleefully went into Iraq to teach the ragheads a lesson (I know, not ALL of us...). Isn't that really the whole point? I know that from on high, there are a number of reasons for going into Iraq that had nothing to do with terrorism but rather represented a constellation of shared interests that benefited (in no particular order or hierarchy) American empire, helping consolidate GOP rule at home, rewarding cronies, spreading neoliberal gospel, satisfying the neocons--the list is endless. But for those most caught up in the fever of getting revenge after 9/11, like Thomas "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" Friedman, suddenly their sense of self-importance--already crippling their analytical capacities before 9/11--became conjoined with the national interest, resulting in the ultimate narcissism. That is why it is so hard for the Friedmans of the world to admit that they were wrong, or to fundamentally question the conceptual wisdom of the "war on terror:" they are guilty of promoting and legitimizing the Big Lie by hiding behind the bipartisan mask of a "liberal hawk" and voicing more concern about the "seriousness" of anti-war protesters than the wisdom of invading a nation which has nothing to do with 9/11, regardless of the accuracy of the warnings. And Friedman spent an entire hour with the same Charlie Rose not more than two weeks ago. Do you think I'm spilling unnecessary virtual ink here criticizing the media for nothing? Our political discourse, as far as I'm concerned, is in a state of arrested development, if not cardiac arrest. In other words, it is broken.
Now I had planned to use this space to write something of formal essay on this subject, tying together this militarism, the naïveté of the 9/11 Syndrome and the increasing prevalence of the "stabbed in the back" narrative that gives the right wing their raison d'être. But blogging is frankly the wrong way to go about that process. Call me lazy, but I think I will sign off today by quoting another blogger who essentially captures how I feel about all this:
The significance of Friedman's "Suck On This" isn't simply his buffoonery and that of our entire media discourse. I don't imagine that Charlie Rose is playing on every teevee in Iraq, but even the liberal Tom Friedman was channeling what was a pretty common sentiment at the time, and one which he had expressed in one way or another in even the liberal New York Times. In Little Tommy's flat world, such sentiments cross borders and can be picked up by people in other countries. Amazing, I know. And, so, Iraqis and other people in Middle East can jump to the shocking conclusion (one might call it a "conspiracy theory!") that maybe we didn't go to Iraq to topple Saddam, or for our security, or weapons of mass destruction, or for humanitarian reasons. We went to Iraq, as the very serious Tom Friedman put it, to go door to door and bust the heads of some Iraqis because a bunch of Saudis had flown planes into buildings about 18 months before that. Now if this cunning plan doesn't make much sense to you, or at the very least you perceive that it might contain the seeds of its own undoing, it's because you lack the Mustache of Understanding which gives you the insights necessary to spend a full hour with Charlie Rose or write two columns a week for the very serious New York Times.
For those of us who were alive during the glorious 2002 summer of war, this was essentially the conservative blogosphere's reason for going to war, before we all got distracted trying to chase down and refute the reams of bullshit coming out of the White House about weapons and al Qaeda connections and blah blah blah. I believe Steven de Beste wrote a 3 million word essay, linked to and praised by everyone, which could've been shortened to "We need to tell them to suck on this."
No one could have predicted that this was a bad idea! No one could have predicted that arming multiple sides in sectarian conflict could have negative consequences! No one could have predicted that a government hiding in the US controlled green zone might lack legitimacy!
Though, truly, no one could have predicted that the president would find solace in historical parallels to Vietnam.
People have blood on their hands, but no one will point that out. And until that changes the status quo remains, and people die for Thomas Friedman, George Bush, William "The Butcher" Kristol (and many, many others) to feel important. I really don't know how they sleep at night.