Home / General / You Know You’re Near the Top of the List, Right?

You Know You’re Near the Top of the List, Right?


Tom Friedman has a column about the folly of open-ended military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At least its bottom line, it must be noted, is correct.   Omitted: and recognition of the columnist’s inability to grasp these facts when it actually mattered.

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  • c u n d gulag

    “A Long List of Suckers” eh, Tom?

    I suppose you’ll be ready to reveal the entire list soon.

    We’ll just have to wait another 6 months.

    • Furious Jorge

      I actually laughed out loud at that.

  • DrDick

    Friedman, like most of the NYT’s columnists, was hired in large part for his total cluelessness and lack of self awareness.

    • I know what you’re talking about. NYT columnists have a tendency to combine low overall intelligence with good vocabulary and grammatical skills, so they can fool other people with that same set of attributes into thinking their columns are actually intelligent.

  • charles pierce

    And boom goes the motherfucking dynamite.

    • c u n d gulag

      A new blog, and you already have too much time on your hands, Mr. Pierce?

      Don’t you have anything pithy to write there?

      So, “Pith Off, Buster!”

      Just kidding!
      Love your new “MUST READ” blog!!! :-)

      • pete

        Seconded, or actually more like 11,472,548-ed. It’s nice to see that the “u” key works, though I’ve got used to ratfcker, etc, rather as I got used to “fug” in The Naked and the Dead.

    • Lee Hartmann

      what everyone else said. You were wasted on the boston.com sports blog.

  • david mizner

    Those of you short on time should fast forward to 2:25.

    Historians of the future trying to figure out what ailed us, why the American Empire destroyed itself (but not before it destroyed a good chunk of the planet first) will be able to learn much from watching that clip. I mean, it’s got it all. American imperialism, chauvinism, and narcissism,
    the glorification of violence and conquest, the endorsement of an immoral, illegal, disastrous war by the leading mouthpiece of the “centrist” establishment, the Church of Seriousness (The 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner on Charlie Rose!), the mind blowingly shallow analysis (likening the growth of terrorism to an economic bubble/ believing terrorism grew because the U.S. hadn’t gotten tough on it). Suck on this indeed.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, the “suck on this” phrase has tended to obscure just how mind-bogglingly stupid the entire argument was.

      • Malaclypse

        I’d have to argue that Friedman’s point was more evil than stupid. “We picked a Middle-Eastern country pretty much at random, and killed a shitload of civilians, because we could.” is the sort of statement that, in a just world, lands one in front of an international tribunal.

        Herman Cain not knowing China has nukes? Stupid.

        Arguing for the killing of civilians, chosen at random? Fucking evil beyond words.

        • Scott Lemieux

          But it burst the bubble! Terrorism works just like irrational market valuations! A cab driver told me…

          • Malaclypse

            Interestingly, there was someone in that clip arguing for the indiscriminate killing of civilians to make a political point, which seems as good a definition of terrorism as any other.

            • DrDick

              Actually, that is pretty much the textbook definition (by which criteria the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo, along with both atomic bombs, qualify).

      • david mizner

        I remember reading From Beirut to Jerusalem when it came out and thinking it was good. But then I was like 19.

        • Jay B.

          You see his books everywhere that people want to look like they are interested in global politics. I understand why many of them don’t care/don’t have the time to know about the complexities of globalization and a changing world. It’s the very reason there are supposed to be accessible “experts” to begin with, to make sense of the chaos. The trouble is when you combine ignorance with the “learned perspective” of a Thomas Friedman, you get the worst of both worlds.

          People who want to believe they are more informed about the world because they read a respected source are actually less informed AND think that his monumentally bad writing and literal idiot thinking are somehow respectable.

    • the leading mouthpiece of the “centrist” establishment, the Church of Seriousness

      It’s easy to forget these days just how highly-esteemed Tom Friedman used to be.

  • RhZ

    He really is that stupid, isn’t he?

    Wow, just wow.

    • David Hunt

      I can’t watch that video while I’m at work, but I recently saw T.F. on Real Time with Bill Maher. He took the chance to pimp his “a third party will be not be subject to all the gridlock caused by the current partisan bickering in Washington and will thus be able to implement all the policies that we so desperately need that just happen to totally align with my own views” bs. However, he didn’t sound stupid saying it to someone who has an extremely limited knowledge of economics and how governing actually works in Washington. I have a degree in Economics and am knowledgeable enough to realize that the idea that a new party could actually get anything through Congress is head-wound level stupid, but he was canny enough to make his nonsense sound sensible while he was saying it. So I’m not sure how to classify him on the Evil-Stupid Cartesian coordinate graph.

  • gman

    No consequences for mistakes among our media elites.
    People only get fired for being against wars..even if prophetic.

  • What a fucking tool. Brought to you by the liberal media.

  • pete

    I watched that clip. I may never forgive you for luring me into wasting those three minutes.

    (I know I’ll never forgive that evil sumbitch; stupidity is not an adequate defense, not in his case.)

  • wiley

    Wasn’t there a time when the NYT had intelligent columnists who wrote well? Or was it just a mistaken impression of mine?

    • Uncle Kvetch

      Wasn’t there a time when the NYT had intelligent columnists who wrote well?

      Um…no, I really don’t think so. A lot of people express nostalgia for Safire as a reasonable, thoughtful conservative (in the days before conservatism became synonymous with absence of thought), but I could never get past the name-checking and preening self-regard: “I was having lunch at 21 the other day with Henry Kissinger and Tom Brokaw when Yitzhak Shamir walked in, and as he approached our table to say hello it occurred to me….” His Cavalcade of Connections may have been real, in contrast to Friedman’s taxi-driving fonts of wisdom, but he was no less annoying for it.

      Mind you, at least back in the 80s the man that Spy Magazine liked to call “Abe ‘I’m Writing as Bad as I Can’ Rosenthal” could be counted on for frequent laffs. Nowadays we get Ross Douthat doing his Church Lady schtick, which is just gross.

      • wiley

        Same as it ever was, then. You funny.

  • Friedman is mostly right in his debunking of the fearmongering about Iranian influence in Iraq – I mean it, his predictions about Iraqi politics towards Iran look quite solid – but he still just has to cling to the remnants of his tattered dream, with this:

    Indeed, once we’re gone, I actually think the dominant flow of influence will be from Iraq toward Iran — if (and it is still a big if) — Iraq’s democracy holds. If it does, Iranians will have to look across the border every day at Iraqis, with their dozens of free newspapers and freedom to form any party and vote for any leader, and wonder why these “inferior” Iraqi Arab Shiites enjoy such freedoms and “superior” Iranian Persian Shiites do not.

    Yeah, it’s going to be freaking Eden. Boy, will those Iranians be jealous, as they read about the bombings and political crises and refugee problems in Iraq. Friedman’s still enamored of Iraq as our Shining City on a Hill for the region.

    • Keep in mind, I’m actually something of an optimist about Iraq, meaning I feel pretty sure it won’t actually become a failed state, if only because it’s existed so long as a very controlled strongman state. I think that, as a quasi-democracy that won’t quite measure up to modern-day Russia’s standards, the Iraqi state will be strong and stable enough to keep the country from breaking up or falling into anarchy, through a combination of ruthless internal security and corrupt deals for power and oil wealth with local elites. Woo hoo!

      This is called being a relative optimist. Iraq, spreading freedom to Iraq through its vibrant, liberal culture? Whatever, man.

      • Malaclypse

        if only because it’s existed so long as a very controlled strongman state.

        Really? British Mandate 1921-1932, instability 1932-1941, Allied control 1941-1945, monarchy 1945-1958, Republic 1958-1963, Baathist dictatorship after than. This seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

        And this question is not snark – has been an odd day, and I’m frazzled, so I think I may be writing dismissively, but that is not my intent at all, so apologies in advance if it reads that way.

        • I’m talking about Iraq, as a self-governing entity. What you’ve just demonstrated is that from 1945 until the American invasion – that is, when there was no foreign power present – Iraq was a stable country with a strong central government capable of maintaining control throughout its territory. That it was able to do so as a monarchy, as a republic, and as a Baathist dictatorship further demonstrates that this wasn’t the result of any particular leader or form of government overperforming, but is the normal state of affairs in Iraq when it’s governing itself.

          Certainly, when a foreign power has come in and mucked about, it destabilized the country, but when left to its own devices, Iraq isn’t Afghanistan or Somalia. It’s more like Iran or Egypt.

          • Malaclypse

            Not sure I agree with you, but your argument does have a certain logic. I hope you are right.


    • wiley

      Has Iraq managed to get the lights on and clean running water yet? I’d like to find some evidence of this. It seems that after spending a trillion dollars to destroy the old Iraq (and a substantial amount of its long history) that we should at least get a website with daily reports of progress that include the voices of actual Iraqis who never expatriated. I’m going to go look for one—a page on the State Department’s website, perhaps.

      Isn’t it odd that we can be at war with a country for eight years for the ostensible purpose of liberating it, and yet no actual citizens of that country are interviewed regularly on one or more of our 24/7 news channels? Some Iraqis should be household names by now. Kind of belies the idea that we’re doing it for them because we care so fucking much about how the live, doesn’t it?

      • wiley

        Ahh. Here it is.

        I think the word seize is appropriate her. We all know what happens when utilities are publicly owned, never mind the socialist dystopia of public housing in a nation of refugees.

        • wiley


          Damn it all to hell! Fucking typos how do they work?

      • “Yet,” meaning, “While there is still a foreign military occupation?” Nope.

        That’s sort of my point.

        • Er, my second point.

          You know, the one you weren’t replying to.

          So…never mind.

          • wiley

            Carry on, man. As you were.

  • Tom M

    Notice how he said “we” had to go over there with our big stick? I remember similar statements back in the 60s about a different war. With luck, Iraq will be like Vietnam: broken, backward and still trying to recover from our big stick approach to strongmen “we” don’t like.
    See “We Meant Well” by Peter Van Buren

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