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David Sirota

David Sirota

Posted: March 4, 2006 02:44 PM

Tom Friedman Becomes America's Chief Revisionist Historian


Last week, I noted how so-called "liberal" pundits like Tom Friedman are desperately trying to distort the Dubai ports scandal so as to perpetuate the free trade orthodoxy they have spent so many years pushing. This week, we see the same dishonest behavior from Friedman when it comes to Iraq.

In a column this week about the war, Friedman concludes by saying:

"A majority of Americans, in a gut way, always understood the value of trying to produce a democratizing government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. That is why there has been no big antiwar movement. Americans should, and will, stick with Iraq if they sense that Iraqis are on a pathway to building a decent, stable government. But Americans will not, and should not, baby-sit an Iraqi civil war. The minute they sense that's what's happening, you will see the bottom fall out of U.S. public support for this war."

There are so many lies and deliberate distortions in this paragraph it makes one's head spin.

First, Friedman's claim that the public has always supported the war because we "always understood the value" of pushing democracy in the Mideast. This is revisionist history at its worst, whereby Friedman, who loudly pushed the war and is now clearly embarrassed about that advocacy, is trying to paint a wholly fabricated picture of what happened in the lead up to the invasion. The war was sold by the Bush administration and pundits like Friedman as necessary to defuse an "imminent threat" of attack by Iraq. To this day, the public knows the "democracy" rationale is a lie. A Zogby poll released last week found that just 24% of Americans believe that "establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. That's not a majority, even by Friedman's dishonest standards.

Second, Friedman's claim that there is "no big antiwar movement" is just straight up lying. There's no way to couch it in any other term. Millions of people protested the invasion in towns throughout America and the world, and millions continue to vehemently oppose the neoconservative foreign policy that the Bush administration and Friedman espouse. Friedman doesn't want to acknowledge this reality because he is desperate to portray himself and his extremism as somehow mainstream when it is anything but.

Finally, and perhaps most dishonest of all, is Friedman's claim that if a civil war erupts in Iraq we "will see the bottom fall out of U.S. public support for this war" (emphasis added). What the hell is this guy talking about? What planet is he living on? Has he even bothered to actually look at the facts? I mean, really - we will see the bottom fall out of U.S. public support for this war? Last I checked, nearly every major poll from 2004 until the present has shown that public support for the Iraq War has evaporated. It seems the majority of people who continue to cheer on the war are ideologues like Friedman, who are scrambling to protect their own reputations and credibility after shamelessly pressing the country into Iraq in the first place. The fact that Friedman is still claiming that the public supports the war shows that he is either very comfortable lying in the pages of the New York Times, wholly divorced from reality - or both.

Now, you might say, so what? So what if a pundit like Tom Friedman is lying? He's just a columnist, right? Wrong. Friedman is not any old pundit - he is an agenda-setter. He is someone the insulated political class in Washington - especially Democrats - bows down to, regardless of how self-serving, inane or dishonest his pronouncements are. You can bet that the political chattering class in Washington read this column of his, and nodded its head in agreement - regardless of the fact that it has no relations to actual facts. When you understand this, you understand how dangerous Friedman and the pundit class really is - and you suddenly realize why the opposition party still has no real position on Iraq, and why our government's policies are so totally misguided and out of step with mainstream public opinion.