Daily Archives: March 2, 2003

“Watching this Iraq story unfold, Thomas L. Friedman informs us in the NYT “all I can say is this: If this were not about my own country, my own kids and my own planet, I’d pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and pay good money just to see how this drama unfolds.”

So what’s stopping you? Really — what’s stopping you? The “my own country”is darkly amusing to anyone who has been paying attention to the facts of history. This country belongs to a select and powerful few. The rest of us just live in it.

And are required to pay taxes in order to do so. But that’s not Popcorn Tom’s concern —

“Because what you are about to see is the greatest shake of the dice any president has voluntarily engaged in since Harry Truman dropped the bomb on Japan.”

(Insert opening sequence of Hiroshima mon Amour )

“Vietnam was a huge risk, but it evolved incrementally.”

Oh was it? Graham Green thought otherwise. And “incremental” would make it alright? Tell it to the millions of dead Vietnamese — as I am not going to sully their memory by bringing up the deaths of their American executioners.

“And threatening a nuclear war with the Soviets over the Cuban missile crisis was a huge shake of the dice by President John Kennedy, but it was a gamble that was imposed on him, not one he initiated.”

Oh really? I’d say the jury is still out on that one.

“U.S. invasion to disarm Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein and rebuild a decent Iraqi state would be the mother of all presidential gambles. “

What precisely do you mean by “decent,” Tom? We’re talking about a Third World country that has known nothing but autocratic rule of one sort or another. Are you going to tempt them with the fantasy of truly Democratic rule, when it isn’t even available in the U.S.?

“Anyone who thinks President Bush is doing this for political reasons is nuts.”

Well shut my mouth and call me Antonin Artaud!

“You could do this only if you really believed in it, because Mr. Bush is betting his whole presidency on this war of choice.”

“Real belief” is characteristic of the delusional.

“And don’t believe the polls. I’ve been to nearly 20 states recently, and I’ve found that 95 percent of the country wants to see Iraq dealt with without a war.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Is Popcorn Tom actually fessing up to the fact that opposition to the war is widespread, or is he, like Norah Vincent, trying to craft a “centerist” ruse and call it public opinion.

“The country” by and large has only the reports of the press whores to deal with when it comes to Saddam Hussein. That, plus a long memory and a reasonable level of intelligence has produced — widespread opposition to a war that hasn’t officially begun, yet in fact has been in incrimental progress for years through bombing raids in theose ever-so-famous “No-Fly Zones.”

“But President Bush is a man on a mission. He has been convinced by a tiny group of advisers that throwing “The Long Bomb” — attempting to transform the most dangerous Arab state — is a geopolitical game-changer.”

THE Most Dangerous? Many would disagree.

“It could help nudge the whole Arab-Muslim world onto a more progressive track, something that coaxing simply will not do anymore.”

It could cure cancer and make toads fly too.

“It’s something that can only be accomplished by building a different model in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. No, you don’t see this every day. This is really bold.”

And here we come at last to that most treasured of press-whore buzzwords, Bold

“And that leads to my dilemma. I have a mixed marriage. My wife opposes this war, but something in Mr. Bush’s audacious shake of the dice appeals to me.”

Hawks are from Mars, Doves are from Venus. With a Sinatraesque ring-a-ding-ding of the dice for the Hawks.

“He summed it up well in his speech last week: “A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America’s interest in security and America’s belief in liberty both lead in the same direction — to a free and peaceful Iraq.”

Groucho Marx put it much better in Duck Soup : “But there must be a war — I’ve paid a month’s rent on the battlefield!”

“My dilemma is that while I believe in such a bold project,”

There he BOLDS again!

“I fear that Mr. Bush has failed to create a context for his boldness to succeed, a context that could maximize support for his vision — support vital to seeing it through.”

In other words, “In my heart, I don’t buy it any more than you do.”

“He and his team are the only people who would ever have conceived this project, but they may be the worst people to implement it.”

The Truth seeps though.

“The only place they’ve been bold is in their military preparations (which have at least gotten Saddam to begin disarming).”

So shouldn’t he say “How BOLD of Saddam”?

“What do I mean?”

You tell me, babe. You’re the one with the column at the NYT.

“I mean that if taking out Saddam and rebuilding Iraq had been my goal from the minute I took office (as it was for the Bush team), I would not have angered all of Europe by trashing the Kyoto global warming treaty without offering an alternative. I would not have alienated the entire Russian national security elite by telling the Russians that we were ripping up the ABM treaty and that they would just have to get used to it. (You’re now seeing their revenge.) I would not have proposed one radical tax cut on top of another on the eve of a huge, costly nation-building marathon abroad.”

In other words “I wouldn’t have been BOLD.”

“I would, though, have rallied the nation for real energy conservation and initiated a Manhattan Project for alternative energies so I would not find myself with $2.25-per-gallon gasoline on the eve of this war — because OPEC capacity is nearly tapped out.”

Do the names “Harken” and “Enron” ring a bell, Tom?

“I would have told the Palestinians that until they stop suicide bombing and get a more serious leadership, we’re not dealing with them, but I would also have told the Israelis that every new or expanded settlement they built would cost them $100 million in U.S. aid.”

— he says, closing the barn door after the horses have been shipped off to the glue factory.

“And I would have told the Arabs: “While we’ll deal with the Iraqi threat, we have no imperial designs on your countries. We are not on a crusade — but we will not sit idle if you tolerate extremists in your midst who imperil our democracy.”

–to be greeted by a louder blast of laughter than the one that greeted Ari Fleischer at that now-famous press conference.

“No, had Mr. Bush done all these things it would not have changed everything with France, Russia and the Arabs — or my wife.”

I’m glad Henny Youngman isn’t alive to see this.

“But I am convinced that it would have helped generate more support to increase our staying power in Iraq and the odds that we could pull this off.”

Aha — so Popcorn Tom admits we’re already in Iraq!

“So here’s how I feel: I feel as if the president is presenting us with a beautiful carved mahogany table — a big, bold, gutsy vision. But if you look underneath, you discover that this table has only one leg.”

Tom’s been hanging out at IKEA too much.

” His bold vision on Iraq is not supported by boldness in other areas. And so I am terribly worried that Mr. Bush has told us the right thing to do, but won’t be able to do it right.”

So that’s it — a BOLDNESS deficiency.

In that case I’ve got a BOLD suggestion myself —

Rufus T. Firefly for President!


Trackback Ping(s)
Tom Friedman: Idiot, part II
Excerpt: I now feel completely justified in my opinion of Thomas Friedman. Go read Digby on Sunday’s column: This wishful thinking
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Tracked: March 2, 2003 09:51 PM