Friday, December 01, 2006

Greenwald fries Friedman and the pundit class he epitomizes

Glenn Greenwald performs a much-deserved skewering of faux-liberal Tom Friedman "the person who, by far, was most responsible for selling the war to centrists and liberal "hawks" and thereby creating "consensus" support for Bush's war -- Tom Friedman, from his New York Times perch as "the nation's preeminent centrist foreign policy genius."" Friedman is an appropriate target because he is so typical of pundit class that is more concerned with salvaging its privilege and reputation than it is with telling the truth or doing what is best for the country and the world.
Friedman is truly one of the most frivolous, dishonest, and morally bankrupt public intellectuals burdening this country.


This matters so much not simply in order to expose Friedman's intellectual and moral emptiness, though that is a goal worthy and important in its own right. Way beyond that, the specific strain of intellectual bankruptcy that drove Friedman's strident support for the invasion of Iraq continues to be what drives not only Tom Friedman today, but virtually all of our elite opinion-makers and "centrist" and "responsible" political figures currently attempting to "solve" the Iraq disaster.


Put another way, these are the premises which Friedman, prior to the invasion, expressly embraced:

(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved.
(2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result.
(3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level.
(4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war.

Just ponder that: Tom Friedman supported the invasion of Iraq even though, by his own reasoning, that war was being done the "wrong way" and would thus -- also by his own reasoning -- create nothing but untold damage on every level. And he did so all because there was some imaginary, hypothetical, fantasy way of doing the war that Friedman thought was good, but that he knew isn't what we would get.


The reason for this is as transparent as it is despicable -- "withdrawal" is a prohibited belief in Establishment Washington. You can pretty much advocate any course of action other than that. Why is the Baker Commission filled with people who supported this invasion in the first place? Shouldn't it be dominated by -- or, at the very least, be substantially composed of -- people who opposed the war from the beginning, i.e., the people who demonstrated foresight and wisdom and judgment?

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.


It is not merely the case that having been pro-war doesn't count as a strike against anyone. That is accurate. But far worse, the opposite is also true. It is still the case in Establishment Washington that having been pro-war in the first place is a pre-requisite to being considered a "responsible, serious" foreign policy analyst. And having been anti-war from the start is the hallmark of someone unserious.


is what the Baker-Hamilton Commission is about and it's what all of these Beltway analysts are doing by endorsing these premises:

(1) Things in Iraq are disastrous and our current policy there is a total failure.
(2) Our troop presence is not improving the situation; things have gotten steadily worse.
(3) There may be goals that, if theoretically met, would improve things, but those goals can't and won't be met -- either because we lack the resources or because they are just not achievable.
(4) No matter what, we absolutely cannot begin withdrawing, and those who want to do so are radical and unserious.

So 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.


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.
UPDATE: Chris Floyd is shrill in his attack on Friedman.


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