The Moustache of Understanding Strikes Back
Of the many blowhards masquerading as media figures, few are so frustrating in their pompousness, air of reason, and sheer insanity as Thomas Friedman. Glenn Greenwald today uses the occasion of a singularly spectacular Friedman statement to go after said insanity, but the quotation is, to me, yet more notable for some of its language than for its easily dismantled nutball premise. Here ’tis:
And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can’t go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.
How long did he work on that one? Could there be a more potent distillation of Friedman’s unique brand of overwrought madness than referring to a (largely failed) military occupation as “a well-armed external midwife”? It’s certainly symptomatic of his remove from the ugly realities of war; Friedman has long treated military conflict as if it were mere fodder for an academic essay. What sort of midwife ushers into being journalists who cultivate an air of faux wisdom with such dedication?
Then there’s the whole “Saddam to Switzerland” deal. Cute.