Friedman's beliefs


Peyvand Khorsandi
by Peyvand Khorsandi


New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman is not a fan of Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan: “I’d prefer a minimalist approach, working with tribal leaders the way we did to overthrow the Taliban regime in the first place,” he writes.

(Grease the palms of a few warlords, a colonial tradition.)

He adds: “Given our need for nation-building at home right now, I am ready to live with a little less security and a little-less-perfect Afghanistan.” Tell that to the Department of Homeland Security.

If the world thinks Americans are stupid, Mr Friedman is an apt window into their minds – he is against the troop surge but for rather delusional reasons. “Iraq was about ‘the war on terrorism.’ The Afghanistan invasion, for me, was about the ‘war on terrorists.’ To me, it was about getting bin Laden and depriving Al Qaeda of a sanctuary — period. I never thought we could make Afghanistan into Norway — and even if we did, it would not resonate beyond its borders the way Iraq might.”

Sensibly, he did not expect Afghanistan to turn into a Scandinavian country with a little stardust from the US.

One thing US ‘opinion-formers’ excel at is making rash assumptions about the Muslim “world” (of which even India is a part!): “One of the main reasons the Arab-Muslim world has been so resistant to internally driven political reform is because vast oil reserves allow its regimes to become permanently ensconced in power, by just capturing the oil tap, and then using the money to fund vast security and intelligence networks that quash any popular movement. Look at Iran.”
Let’s do that – in the 1953 the US engineered a coup to depose Iran’s democratically elected prime minister who had just nationalized the ‘oil tap’ and kicked out the British. The US, of course, has no interest in oil.
He writes: “The most important reason for the Iraq war was never W.M.D. It was to see if we could partner with Iraqis to help them build something that does not exist in the modern Arab world: a state, a context, where the constituent communities — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — write their own social contract for how to live together without an iron fist from above.”
I remember watching images of the first night of the 2003 Iraq invasion on television – it was definitely an iron first pounding Baghdad and it was definitely from above.
Friedman’s cites “a deficit of freedom, a deficit of education and a deficit of women’s empowerment” as the reason “there are so many frustrated and angry people in the Arab-Muslim world, lashing out first at their own governments and secondarily at us — and volunteering for ‘martyrdom’.”
He adds: “The reason India, with the world’s second-largest population of Muslims, has a thriving Muslim minority (albeit with grievances but with no prisoners in Guantánamo Bay [as if all countries with Muslim populations have representatives in Guantanamo] is because of the context of pluralism and democracy it has built at home.”
Friedman’s solving of the “Muslim-world” problems in a few paragraphs would be entertainingly dimwitted were his views not so in line with US foreign policy. “People do not change when we tell them they should,” he writes. “They they change when their context tells them they must.”

For Friedman, who feels free to talk utter nonsense about an imagined “Muslim world”, alas, the ‘context’ remains firmly in his favour.


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Peyvand Khorsandi


by Peyvand Khorsandi on

Thanks for your email, Agha Mort. Vali aziz, koota biya. Man ham koota miyam. Dam-e shoma garm.  PK


Mort Gilani

Thanks for Your Follow Up

by Mort Gilani on

Dear Payvand,
Let me put my point differently. We cannot claim Mossadegh was a democratically elected prime minister when he was voted by Majlis deputies who did not have the real votes of the people. It is also worth pondering why he decided to dissolve the parliament if he was a true democrat.

بت شکن


by بت شکن on

You avoided the answer.


A botsekan by definition cannot be named - or she/he cannot be botshekan. Give my kind greetings to your kind friend and tell him, I like his poetry :)

بت شکن

Embarrassed? Monarchist?

by بت شکن on

Get you facts right Mr Q. I aint no monarchist, Tudehi, Mosaddeghist, or like you Mousavist. My job is to smash all the icons and idols: from Cyrus to Reza Shah to MR Shah to Mosaddegh to Khomeini to Khatami and to your idol Mousavi. Idols and Idolaters are alike. Only when we are rid of them then and then only can we begin to taste real freedom.

If you are embarrassed, and I can see with your patchy understanding of democratic systems you have all the reasons to be embarrassed, then that is your problem. To start with in countries like Canada and, until recently, Australia, the head of state is the Queen of England and not the Governor General as you so wrongly stated. Second if the mention Tudeh party hits a raw nerve, then that is you problem again, not mine. With such huge membership that the Tudeh party enjoyed in those days, outlawing the party was like outlawing the most educated and intellectually progressive sector of the population from having a say in running the country. No democratic European country as you falsely stated had such a substantial sector of their populace outlawed from electoral vote.

You misread my question too: the question was not whether Mosaddegh was democratically elected or not. The question was that he was not the only democratically elected prime minister.  Funnily you are right on this one.

Your definition of logic and reason is only yours and yours only.

Peyvand Khorsandi


by Peyvand Khorsandi on

Have the courage to identify yourself, then we'll communicate, honey. 


Of course Mossadegh was a democratically elected leader

by Q on

Monarchists and assorted other conspiracy theorists, really need to let go of their 60 year-old prejudice. It's getting embarrassing.

This is how a parliamentary system works. It's the same in many other democracies. The assembly is voted for directly, and then IT votes for the executive, with a veto power (sometimes only symbolic) from the head of state such as a King or a representative like Governor General, for countries like Canada and Australia. Laws are also subjected to the same filter.

In the case of Israel, the President doesn't even have to honor the majority vote in congress to appoint a prime minister, as it happened exactly last time for Yabu's election.

Mossadegh was as "democratically elected" as anyone in that system. By the standards of the time, it was as democratically as you can possibly get.

Bot Shekan and friends, who I'm sure are not going to be convinced by logic and evidence, can at least check the long list of parties banned in post-war Europe, before talking about the Tudeh party.

If that' the argument, then no one was "democratic" at the time.

بت شکن

A second question from your very kind friend

by بت شکن on

Dear Mr Khorsandi


Would you please be so kind and email your very kind and "expert friend" to so kindly answer couple of more questions: (a) were Prime Minister Mosaddegh's predecessors appointed to their posts or were they given a vote of inclination by an undemcraticly elected parliament?  (b) was Prime Minister Mosaddegh's coalition with Aytollah Kashani which led to his majority vote in his second election a democratic credential and finally (c) was dissolving the parliament by Prime Minister Mosaddegh a symbol of his loyalty to the constitution? 

Please convey my kind regards to your kind friend and ask him to kindly write more of his fantastic poetry .


kindly yours




ps - one final kind question: with Tudeh party banned to take part in elections, was this still a democratic election? - kindly please.

Peyvand Khorsandi

Dear Mr Gilani

by Peyvand Khorsandi on

I emailed a good friend of mine who is an expert on Iran, regarding the point you raised. This is his kind and very interesting response. 

"I wish democracy could be defined as easily as a spade, though I doubt there is even a universally accepted definition of that.

"Mossadegh's success in parliamentary elections which led to his
premiership was significant because it was the first, and still the
only, such victory by an independent politican critical of Iran's
ruling circle, though loyal to its constitution. 

"As far as I know, the procedure was that the Majlis would nominate - or
give a 'vote of inclination' - to a prime minister-designate who would
then have to be endorsed by the king, as is the case in Britain and many
other countries.

The fact that the Shah did not like that and later
went along with the US-British plan for Mossadegh's removal makes him
undemocratic, rather than Mossadegh.

It is almost certain that some Majlis deputies voted for Mossadegh not
because they liked him, but because they were scared of the popular
movement that he represented. That too is a sign of those MPs' lack of
democratic credentials, for they had found their way to parliament by
using wealth and power, rather than real votes.

Mossadegh's independence of the shah marks him out from Khatami who was
popular but not democratically elected, because of the severe
limitations of the Islamic Republic's electoral system, even compared
to the Shah's."

Ahmed from Bahrain

Friedman suffers from

by Ahmed from Bahrain on

self-inflicted mental amnesia. He never mentions the huge American army bases in the Gulf which support the Arab stooges to keep the oil flowing to Americans so they can ride their SUV's.

Arab regimes on their own would not stand for two weeks without the military help of America.

There is one word for the likes of Friedmans - Ostrich. He knows which side he stand and it does not help that the avergae American has no interest beyond his/her village. Patriotism is blinding, the last refuge of the scoundrel - religion is another.

Ahmed from Bahrain


Look at Iran: Thomas

by vildemose on

Look at Iran: Thomas Friedman thinks that Iran is part of the Arab-Muslim world ""4. One of the main reasons the Arab-Muslim world has been so resistant to internally driven political reform is because vast oil reserves allow its regimes to become permanently ensconced in power, by just capturing the oil tap, and then using the money to fund vast security and intelligence networks that quash any popular movement. Look at Iran.""

Mort Gilani

Democratically Elected or Something Else

by Mort Gilani on

Mr. Khorsandi,

You are incorrect when you write Mossadegh was a democratically elected prime minister…"
Dr. Mossadegh was a popular prime minister, but he was not a democratically elected leader. Iranian parliament asked Shah to make Mossadegh a prime minister and Shah reluctantly accepted it. Let’s call a spade a spade.


That windbag!

by Asghar_Massombagi on

It's a wonder that someone like Friedman makes a living writing about politics. Someone has to point out to this idiot that Iraq under the Baath party had the largest middle-class in the Arab world, that there were no hurdles to women participating in the work place or universities.  Someone has to point to this idiot that the real reactionary heart of Islam never beat in Baghdad, or even for that matter in Tehran or Qum (no, they're no slouches in that department) but in Riadh. Yes, the house of Saud,  the startegic US ally for the last 80 years, what with their vast money helping ugly despicable Wahhabism spreading all over the world.  I'm not even going into his nonsense about "the world's largest democracy".  A high schooler can write better about India than this bozo.


Marge, you're mistaking him a little perhaps for Milton Friedman, professor of Economics at Chicago University in the '60's and along with Leo Strauss, one of the fathers of neo-conservatism.

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

you have to read the blurb fraudman wrote for stones to schools

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

"i spent the day with him at the school and it found it impossible to say 'let's get out of here.'" I'm not sure what to say about Thomas Friedman. He's a hack and if he's an economist then my grandmother was a chemical engineer based on her kitchen work. 

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

You might enjoy this

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on


Just when you begin to lose faith in America’s ability to fall for absolutely anything—just when you begin to think we Americans as a race might finally outgrow the lovable credulousness that leads us to fork over our credit card numbers to every half-baked TV pitchman hawking a magic dick-enlarging pill, or a way to make millions on the Internet while sitting at home and pounding doughnuts— along comes Thomas Friedman, porn-stached resident of a positively obscene 114,000 11,400 square foot suburban Maryland mega-monstro-mansion and husband to the heir of one of the largest shopping-mall chains in the world, reinventing himself as an oracle of anti-consumerist conservationism.