Thomas Friedman Is Unbearable Today

In other words, it’s a typical Friedman column. Today, he tells Pres. Obama what he should say in his Oslo acceptance speech. Long story short, he wants Obama to give a GWB speech. Of course, GWB did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. He did not win the Nobel Peace Prize because his “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” approach to talking up America pretty much alienated the whole planet. So now Friedman wants Obama to take the very global set of ideas and intentions that moved the Nobel Committee to award him the Peace Prize and throw it back in their faces. If eight years of George W. Bush telling Europeans that black was white, war was peace, occupation was liberation, and aggression was peacekeeping didn’t work, what makes Friedman think it’ll be a winning strategy now?

The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way.

It is not the president’s fault, though, that the Europeans are so relieved at his style of leadership, in contrast to that of his predecessor, that they want to do all they can to validate and encourage it. I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but “as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give:

“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. …

It gets more and more nauseating from there.

Why Friedman wants the President to repeat this Ode to American Exceptionalism — the same one his predecessor gave in every foreign policy speech he did throughout his entire two terms in office — is beyond my ability to comprehend. Obviously, it didn’t work because it wasn’t true, and the world beyond our shores could see that it wasn’t true because they could see the actual consequences of “American Exceptionalism” just by walking out their front doors.

Here is the bottom line: If the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces really were the true peacekeepers of the world, and if the last 65 years of U.S. foreign policy really did effectively demonstrate America’s commitment to peace, freedom, liberation, and protecting the weak from the strong, then why would that speech need to be given even once — much less over and over and over again for eight years?

14 Responses to “Thomas Friedman Is Unbearable Today”

  1. Flit says:

    But you “support the troops.” Something is nauseating, but it ain’t Friedman’s column.

    And beyond your rejection of the basic idea that soldiers and Marines giving their lives to protect, say, polling places or South Korea is somehow noble, it is an American president’s job to sing the praises of American exceptionalism, whether he be conservative or a liberal appointed by God to rescue humanity from the spectre of W and make everyone love us.

    The speech is given year after year because the sentiment is still popular; most Americans are still self-confident optimists about this country’s unique promise and place in the world. Though you seem to embrace self-loathing relativist politics that masquerade as nuanced and sensitive intellectualism, the basic fact that a majority of Americans don’t share your pained liberalism shouldn’t escape you.

  2. Chief says:

    American Exceptionalism.” WTF is that? If we were living up to the Constitution as written, well, maybe we have something to offer the world. But for the last 64 years at least, since the end of WW2, the “White Anglo-Saxon Male” has worked overtime keeping people of color down, in keeping women “in-their-place, Jews and Muslims in their place. Keeping them all as second-class citizens.

    And I do not see anything in the post that speaks ill about the people in the armed forces. I, for one, fully support the U.S military, I support full funding for the Veteran’s Administration, I support paying the U.S. military a living wage so they do not have to rely on food stamps.

    And if as you say, it is the President’s job to sing the praises (I disagree), it is the citizens job to pay enough attention to know when the president is LYING.

  3. Dan says:

    The nobility of the military isn’t in question. It’s the nature of their mission. It’s not peacekeeping. Saying war-making is peacekeeping is Orwellian and yes, nauseating, as is the idea that critiquing a jingoistic column like this rejects our military’s nobility. It is not the President’s job to sing the praises of American exceptionalism. He’s not a singer, he’s the President. Expecting him to mold every situation to fit some military propagandist template demeans the office and demeans the arguer.

    Here’s my take:

    http://klogtheblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/thomas-friedman-is-bsi/

  4. “American Exceptionalism.” WTF is that?” … Chief exemplifies the dumbing down of America, the inability to think outside one’s own box of indoctrination. He is unable to identify what makes America “exceptional” amongst other current and former civilizations of the World… just an angry, cynical Progressive.

    Last I checked Chief, Jews are doing much better than the average American. Women are working everywhere, achieving success across the board .. yet remain unhappy because they’ve lost quite a bit of their motherhood/nurturing time in this new Society which has devalued the uniqueness of women. Many Blacks are doing very well, while others remain under the Progressive thumb of victimhood and oppression. Chief, your analysis and thinking is very shallow, short sighted.

    I haven’t heard Obamba say much good about America nor our Health Care system/professionals. Its amazing how Obamba can’t find anything positive about America.

  5. I suppose Kathy thinks Saddam was a good thing, Amenijad is good for the people of Iran, Chavez is great .. so is Castro? Bush’s Wars may be faulted but no other nation has stood up for freedom and individual liberty more than the USA. South Korea is one example, an nation which has thrived thanks to American Blood … just compare it to North Korea, where Kathy would live …

  6. Kathy says:

    But war is still not peace. War is not peace.

  7. Throughout history, sustained periods of Peace only follow brutal War and a decisive win by one side. Its sad but true. Not everyone in this World wants Peace, Kathy. Guys like Neville Chamberlain were fooled into thinking they brokered Peace, when really he just delayed War. I’m afraid thats the road we’re heading down right now. Delay tactics and appeasement only allow Iran, N. Korea, Militant Islam, guys like Chavez and other repressive regimes to grow stronger.

    Only War brings true Peace. Alexander the Great, the Caesar’s of Rome, Kings of Europe, etc. were constantly at War with one another until a decisive victory. The “peace” followed, usually with a high level of oppression for the loser. Can you give an example where Diplomacy alone prevented War??

    If we are to take Amenijad at his word, he wants War with Israel and the US. With Obama in office and a perpetually impotent/undermining European policy I don’t see how we can stop Iran from getting the A-Bomb and using it for blackmail purposes or outright War. Unfortunatly not everyone lives in our Century nor is rational. War is still a part of Humanity.

    Hopefully the War in Iraq will lead to some sort of Peace there. Certainly we spent enough $$ and spilt enough blood there. Had the US not intervened Saddam would have passed his reign on to his sons leading to generations of killing and tyranny. No amount of negotiation nor diplomacy would have wrestled control away from Saddam. It took force to rid the World of him. I hope those idiots in Iraq come to appreciate the gift of freedom wrought by our sacrafice.

  8. Craig says:

    You are right, Kathy. Obama shouldn’t give a Bush speech. Bush should. Obama has done nothing for peace. He hasn’t liberated 25 million people from a murderer. He hasn’t kept America safe for eight years. For the record, I didn’t vote for Bush in either election, but I’m not so blind to see the good that he achieved. While I have issues with many Bush policies, he clearly did more for world peace than Obama, who, again, has done nothing. War is, sadly, needed to achieve peace because there will always be Hitler’s in the world. But I’m sure you think we should have just tried talking to Japan and were wrong to enter into World War II, also. And the first. And the Civil War. And the Revolutionary War. And so on and so on.

  9. Wynton Kelly says:

    Jesus, some of these comments are even more insane than Friedman’s column.

    People are still stupid enough to believe America occupies countries in order to liberate the people living there?

  10. Craig says:

    Liberating them may not be the main reason, but it still happens. I assume you believe that we, and the world, would be a better place with Saddam Hussein still around.

  11. Kathy says:

    Actually, you’ve got the question the wrong way around. The appropriate question to ask is, “Is the world a better place with Saddam Hussein not around than it was when he was around,” and the answer clearly is NO.

  12. Kathy says:

    Throughout history, sustained periods of Peace only follow brutal War and a decisive win by one side. Its sad but true. Not everyone in this World wants Peace, Kathy

    I don’t see it that way at all. No war ever truly ends for the people who fight in wars and the survivors who suffer the unspeakable horrors of war. For those who die in war, of course, everything ends. And the grief, anger, resentments, and trauma wars cause linger on long after wars are officially over. They fester and they continue to cause conflict — often very violent conflict. War really does not resolve anything except who is left standing, and those unresolved issues lead to more wars. Every single war in the 20th century in some way led to the next war. World War I led directly to World War II. World War II led to the Cold War, which in turn led to dozens of smaller hot wars and proxy wars. In the second half of the 20th century, successive U.S. administrations chose to support military dictatorships and violent, sinister and unsavory armed groups in the name of anti-Communism, and there is a straight line between some of those wars in which the U.S. armed one side against the other, and what happened to 3,000 people in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. We created the very monsters that we now fight in the name of global anti-terrorism because at the time they were useful to us in fighting Soviet influence in various parts of the world.

    There has not been one day of true, meaningful peace since August 1914. Peace is not the absence of gunfire. It’s the presence of justice and meaningful communication and cooperation between people to achieve common goals. Peace that is maintained by thousands of soldiers, military bases, and foreign occupations is not peace. It’s just not. But we are so used to calling that state of affairs peace that we forget it’s not peace. It’s armed silence.

    Furthermore, your statement that not everyone in this world wants peace intends to imply that those who don’t want peace are the “foreign terrorists” that we call our enemies. Well, the truth is that the U.S. is still the most militarily powerful country in the world, by many orders of magnitude, and if anyone is responsible for peace not existing, it’s us. There’s a huge defense industry in this country. Do you think they want peace? Maybe they do, with their lips, but they act in accordance with their bank accounts. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has been,, almost literally, a gold mine, a Solomon’s treasure trove of riches and profits for Americans. So many companies and individuals have made so much money off that war, while Iraqis have been killed, wounded, tortured, and dispossessed, that it’s obscene.

    There is only really one reason why war as an institution continues, and that reason is economic. If wars were not profitable, they would not be fought. That’s the bottom line.

  13. radical_moderate says:

    bluedog”democrat” what was your previous user name on CFLF? radicalrightwingreationary?

  14. My opinion says:

    Chief,-when I read your post the first thing I tought was “power to the people”. Then I got to thinking, I am an white male, over 50, upper middle class and I got angry. I never was given the secret handshake or password that would have moved me to the head of the line. It was never given to me. So I ended up working very hard and long hour to get to what ever station in life I have right now.
    Dan- “War is war”. Ok then, what is your solution? As the newly elected, or as some have said given the Presidency in 2001, what would have Presiden Dan done? If it is to talk to the attackers, please give me your opening comment. What are you willing to give up to appease the attacker? In negotiations, both side usually give up, or if you are a glass is half full guy, what do you and what does your fellow negotiator across the table expect to gain?
    Kathy-Only time and history will tell us if the world is better off without Saddan, but I would bet the people of that country sure feel good about it. “if wars were not profitable they would not be fought” are you kidding me? You would not fight for your freedom at any cost? That questions needs to be restated. You would not have others fight for your freedom at any cost to them?

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