by Kim Petersen
June 5, 2003
Thomas Friedman has an unnerving ability to cut through the guff and state in as blunt and straightforward terms as possible what US administrations are up to. In his recent NY Times op-ed Mr. Friedman dismisses the stated reason of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction as a bogus casus belli and proceeds to outline the other three reasons for the aggression against Iraq: the real reason, the right reason, and the moral reason.
The “real reason” states Mr. Friedman, was that “after 9-11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world.” One must ask if Mr. Friedman is projecting his own inner frustration upon the American establishment here. There are other effective ways that normal people can take out their frustrations or pent-up rage. Slamming one’s fist into a wall is a good release for some but not recommended for tender hands. For a small-time terrorist, blowing up a building with people might serve the trick. This is not the moral reason that Mr. Friedman is presenting here. No; instead Mr. Friedman suggests acting on the need of a big time terrorist: smash the state. Not just one Muslim state because as Mr. Friedman writes, “Afghanistan wasn't enough.” Maybe one state for each tower? No, Mr. Friedman elaborates the cold reasoning as revenge for the World Trade Center, revenge for Muslim preachers okaying 9-11, revenge for Muslim state media using the word “martyrs” (sticks and stones aphorisms don’t apply to some NY times grown-up writers and political cohorts obviously), and Muslim charities raising money for “martyrs.” How does a martyr spend that money?
It gets even more insidious. Mr. Friedman brays: “The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble.” It didn’t even matter so much which Arab country: “Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine.” But it turns out Iraq was the easiest target, never mind that none of the 9-11 hijackers came from Iraq and never mind that despite all the intelligence cooked up for the genuflecting mainstream media, no plausible link could be made between al Qaeda and the tyrant Saddam Hussein.
So the fear of America could be instilled in the Arab neighborhood: don’t mess with Uncle Sam, he carries a big stick and isn’t afraid to use it. The message was clear and it was justified because “98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen.” Even the soldiery supposedly knows this. Well, I guess that helps them sleep better at night after dropping a few cluster bombs on Arab neighborhoods. Another thing: just where does Mr. Friedman pull his fanciful numbers and facts -- 98 percent? Sheesh, and what does the other two percent account for?
It we consider this “real reason” on Kohlberg’s Morality Scale it would fall into the premoral level -- a very sad state of affairs for a superpower nation.
The “right reason” for this war was the need to partner the Iraqis, post-Saddam, to build a “progressive Arab regime” because the real threat to the US is “the growing number of angry, humiliated young Arabs and Muslims, who are produced by failed or failing Arab states -- young people who hate America more than they love life.” This is wonderful logic, maybe Pulitzer Prize winning logic. Let’s see if I got this straight: so to form a partnership with humiliated, young Arabs who hate the US just humiliate them some more by bombing the hell out of them, parading some miscreants in the streets butt naked, allowing the destruction of Iraqi institutions, and swiping their oil; then the suicide bombing threat will fade away while Iraqis sprinkle lotus blossoms wherever Americans may tread? After this is Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Mr. Friedman, please don’t insult the intelligence of the Times’ readership further by suggesting the Roadmap is going to solve the US+Israel and Palestine debacle. Why should a poor man’s version of Oslo fare better than its previous incarnation?
“The ‘moral reason’ for the war was that Saddam's regime was an engine of mass destruction and genocide that had killed thousands of his own people, and neighbors, and needed to be stopped.” So how does the “thousands of his own people” stack up against the half a million Iraqi children that were destroyed with the US-backed sanctions of mass destruction? Mr. Friedman’s genocidal reference must be to this; but the price was worth it -- just ask former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Mr. Friedman would have gone with the right and moral reasons for violence rather than ‘on the wings of a lie.’ But hey, let Mr. Friedman retract a bit, maybe those big, bad weapons are still there. Anyway, it would have been just as easy to pull the rug over the collective American head for whatever reason. Sadly, for the American public, it doesn’t seem that the discovery of biochemical or nuclear weapons in the arsenal of Mr. Hussein are necessary.
The influence of the US media is exceedingly pervasive. The world hopes that the media has indeed hoodwinked Americans. If not, the implications are too scary to contemplate.
Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* See also DV News Service’s Compilation: “Bush Administration's Lies About Iraq's WMD Unraveling”