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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Friedman and I

Frequent readers of my posts might have noticed that I quote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quite frequently. I personally like how the guy looks at the situation in the Middle East and the Islamic world and his words helped me to better articulate my thoughts and write better posts on my blog. One of the major things I like about Friedman is his willingness to forget political convictions and support “Bush’s war” (a war that received tremendous bipartisan support by the way) in Iraq. There is no doubt that Friedman is a liberal democrat but he, like many of his fellow democrats, were willing to forsake their party allegiances to see Iraq succeed. I respect Friedman so much for that the same way I respect Senator Lieberman for taking the same position.

However, upon his return from a 3 month holiday, Thomas Friedman embarked on a crystal clear crusade to make Bush lose on November 2. He lambasted Bush in those columns without offering any comments on Kerry’s record of flip-flopping over the Iraq issue. I have no problem whatsoever with criticizing Bush on post-war issues, I have done the same thing, however, Friedman should have at least discussed the alternative (i.e Kerry’s record visa vie Iraq and terrorism) since we’re in an election period. This is the reason why I have decided to comment on his latest column (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/14/opinion/14friedman.html?hp)and send this post to him and the NY Times. Friedman’s words are in the quotes.

“I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear the president and vice president slamming John Kerry for saying that he hopes America can eventually get back to a place where "terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."

It is me who do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear such words coming from a Middle East expert. Terrorism was a nuisance to America on 9/10, and guess what happened? America got hit in extremely sensitive areas. Before 9/11, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush considered Bin Laden to be a “nuisance” and he surprised them on 9/11. Besides, I don’t think Spain, Australia, Turkey, and all the other countries that were hit are willing to consider terror as “nuisance”!

“That's why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about - that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.”

OK, I’ll go along with you. Now, can you kindly tell us what did Kerry say about how he will make Americans feel that terrorism is just a nuisance? Just tell us what YOU THINK should be done so that terror becomes another nuisance such as gambling and prostitution!

“But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world”

9/11 did not create the wedge between America and the rest of the world, it was the Iraq war. You and I believe that the Iraq war is an integral factor in the war on terror, Europeans and many others disagree with us both. Please get your facts right Mr. Friedman. There are French and Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The wedge happened when Bush and the vast majority of the US senate decided to remove Saddam Hussein.

“By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues”

Massive tax cuts were before 9/11, dropping out of the Kyoto Protocol was before 9/11, social issues, ummmm what social issues you have in mind??!! Mr. Friedman stop using politically motivated vague comments.

“After failing to find any W.M.D. in Iraq, he became so dependent on justifying the Iraq war as the response to 9/11 - a campaign to bring freedom and democracy to the Arab-Muslim world - that he refused to see reality in Iraq.”

Not true. You mentioned only one reason that Bush stated for going in Iraq. The other reason was that he saw a threat. John Kerry saw a threat. The vast majority of congress saw a threat.

“The Bush team has turned this country into "The United States of Fighting Terrorism."

Oh, and in 1940 there was “The United States of Fighting Nazism” and in 1945 there was “The United States of Fighting Communism”!!! The US was obsessed with fighting Nazis and it was obsessed with fighting communists, I believe it will become more obsessed with fighting an enemy that, unlike Nazism and Communism, hit the USA in ITS HEART!

"His whole focus is on an America whose role in the world is to negate the negation of the terrorists. But America has always been about the affirmation of something positive. That is missing today. Beyond Afghanistan, they've been much better at destruction than construction."

Oh, how nice of you Mr. Cohen (Stephen Cohen whom Friedman quotes in his article), but this is better said than done. I don’t think you can focus so much of positive things when you don’t know when terrorists will unleash a dirty bomb in your city. Welcome to the post-911 world.
Mr. Cohen, I don’t think you can blame the Bush team for being “much better at destruction than construction” when you have terrorists blowing up oil pipelines in Iraq, blowing up the Red Cross, and doing just everything to prevent “Bush’s construction in Iraq”. In other words, blame the right people sir!

“I wish Mr. Kerry were better able to articulate how America is going to get its groove back. But the point he was raising about wanting to put terrorism back into perspective is correct.”

Since you admitted that you don’t know how Kerry will get America’s groove back, and since YOU didn’t even bother to say how you think it should be done, that proves how pathetic your politically motivated column is.




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