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Fri Aug 20, 2021, 10:50 AM

Thomas Friedman, brilliant!

Three People I Would Interview About Afghanistan
Aug. 19, 2021

As I watch events in Afghanistan unfold, I find myself trying to ignore all the commentary and longing instead to interview three people: President Lyndon Johnson, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan.

President Johnson, what did you think of Joe Biden’s speech about quitting Afghanistan?

Johnson: I listened to it, and I have to say that I choked up. If only I had had the guts to give that speech on April 7, 1965, about America’s involvement in Vietnam — the war that I inherited and then expanded with that speech. Promise me one thing: You won’t link to that speech.

Friedman: Sorry, Mr. President, but I already did. Here are some highlights of what you said to justify sending more troops into Vietnam:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/19/opinion/afghanistan-us-taliban.html

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Thomas Friedman, brilliant! (Original post)
Mme. Defarge Aug 2021 OP
dalton99a Aug 2021 #1
msfiddlestix Aug 2021 #2
PatSeg Aug 2021 #3
msfiddlestix Aug 2021 #4
PatSeg Aug 2021 #8
msfiddlestix Aug 2021 #18
PatSeg Aug 2021 #22
msfiddlestix Aug 2021 #23
malaise Aug 2021 #6
PatSeg Aug 2021 #9
Hortensis Aug 2021 #11
PatSeg Aug 2021 #13
Hortensis Aug 2021 #16
PatSeg Aug 2021 #17
Hortensis Aug 2021 #20
PatSeg Aug 2021 #25
Hortensis Aug 2021 #26
PatSeg Aug 2021 #27
Sur Zobra Aug 2021 #30
TxGuitar Aug 2021 #5
KG Aug 2021 #7
PatSeg Aug 2021 #10
KG Aug 2021 #12
PatSeg Aug 2021 #14
chowder66 Aug 2021 #15
msfiddlestix Aug 2021 #19
madinmaryland Aug 2021 #24
Blecht Aug 2021 #21
gulliver Aug 2021 #28
Mme. Defarge Aug 2021 #29

Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 10:56 AM

1. "President Xi, what do you think of all the American commentators proclaiming China a winner?"

Xi: Oh, my, these are what we call useful idiots. What planet are these people living on? We had a perfect situation going before Biden came along. America was hemorrhaging lives, money, energy and focus in Afghanistan — and their presence was making the country just safe enough for Chinese multinationals to exploit.

The Metallurgical Corporation of China and Jiangxi Copper had a contract to develop a copper mine in Mes Aynak, and the China National Petroleum Corporation was working on a field in the north of the country — and the Americans were funding the overall security. That is our idea of perfection! Alas, neither of these projects ever got off the ground because of the craziness in the Kabul government. But Afghanistan is hugely rich in minerals we need. Who will protect our investors after the Americans have stopped doing it for free? Not me.

Friedman: How about the Taliban?

Xi: The Taliban?! You think that we trust them? Have you noticed what their brothers in the Pakistani Taliban have been doing to our investments in Pakistan? Just read The Wall Street Journal from July 28: ...

Pakistan cannot even keep us safe from its own Taliban and Baloch separatists — in their own country — and we own Pakistan! And don’t even get me started on how the Taliban victory could inspire our Uyghur Muslims. … Joe, Joe, what did you do to us, Joe? You should have listened to your foreign policy experts and stayed in Afghanistan. The last thing we want is you refocusing all of America’s resources and energy on competing with us for the industries of the 21st century, instead of chasing the Taliban around the Hindu Kush.

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:09 AM

2. Interesting. I suppose a leopard can change it's spots after all...?

or is it Zebra's changing their stripes?

oh wait maybe it was a Paper Tiger thingy?


I'm just getting too old I guess. I feel like it wasn't that long ago ole' Friedman wrote volumes on the virtues of our invasion of both Afghanistan and especially Iraq.

But gosh, maybe I'm just making that up. or remembering the wrong opinion writer about the wrong country, wrong planet, wrong century or different universe.... ?

hmm.

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Response to msfiddlestix (Reply #2)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:14 AM

3. Yeah, I can't forget the Tom Friedman of 20 years ago

I read many of his editorials back then and he was on the side of the neo-con hawks.

I am pleased to see that he seems to have changed a great deal, but I will always be a bit leery of anything he has to say. I don't think anyone was beating the war drum louder than Friedman in 2001.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:18 AM

4. Thank you for confirming my 20 year memory of that individual, I called a Lying War Hawk POS.

the OP had me questioning my memory functionality, which is not fun. especially when one is of a certain age.

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Response to msfiddlestix (Reply #4)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:38 AM

8. Yes, I know exactly what you mean

There have been so many to keep track of the past 20 years, I can't always trust my memory either. For some reason, however, Friedman has stuck in my mind.

I have no problem with people changing their minds and in this case, it certainly is a positive change, but I would like to hear him clearly say, "Hey, I was wrong back then and I apologize". Of course, he may have admitted he was wrong, but I have not heard it.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #8)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 04:00 PM

18. Right? That's what I want to hear too, from his own lips over and over again

The reason why he sticks in our memory, is because media especially PBS news and NPR gave him so much air time to espouse his pro Iraq invasion and justify remaining in Afghanistan. In fact the whole Middle East thing was foremost the most paramount importance over and above our country and he made sure to promulgate the message ad nauseum for years.

NPR, PBS, MSNBC, and oh yeah how can I forget, Charlie Rose on frequently hawking his books and more books.

Yeah, I want to hear and read in the NYT OP Ed how horribly wrong he was. repeated as many times as he promoted the wars.




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Response to msfiddlestix (Reply #18)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 07:16 PM

22. It was such a difficult time

Everyone was so supportive of the administration because we were attacked on 9/11. Any criticism was immediately perceived as unpatriotic. The overreactions throughout the mainstream media were horrifying. It was so hard to find an independent rational voice, which is why so many of us ended up on sites like Democratic Underground.

Cable News personalities were afraid to act or speak outside the accepted mainstream for fear they'd get fired and liberal voices were outnumbered by conservatives 2 or 3 to 1 even on MSNBC. A neocon would show up at least once every hour, often more. Patriotism and war were huge commodities and most people were buying.

Gradually other voices started to creep into the media, but by then, so much damage had already been done and we are still living with the repercussions today.

So yeah, apologize Tom and the rest of you "experts" as well. If you can't, then sit down and shut up. You had your chance.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #22)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 07:51 PM

23. This 10,000 %


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Response to PatSeg (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:29 AM

6. Has he changed?

Doesn't look so to me

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Response to malaise (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:44 AM

9. He doesn't seem to be quite as thrilled

with our presence in the Middle East anymore. It is like it was his evil twin who was pushing for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq 20 years ago. People make mistakes, but some mistakes cannot be undone and when it comes to Bush's Middle East misadventures, many people died. People like Friedman need to admit they were disastrously wrong or find another career path.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:49 AM

11. Once experts decide to pursue identities as public figures,

their job changes to maintaining a sellable product.

I've admired so many experts offering new insights when they've newly arrived on cable only to watch them devolve to conformity with whatever themes are required of talking head "regulars."

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #11)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 12:43 PM

13. Yes, it is really sad

So much education and intelligence just to turn into media savvy chameleons. No real integrity or independent thought once the prospect of fame and fortune is dangled in front of them. It is amazing how many truly shallow people there are in the world.

And hey, it is like I said, if he genuinely changed his mind and acknowledged his mistakes, I'd cut him some slack, but I'm not hearing any such admissions or sincere apologies. You know, I have heard quite a few people admit they were wrong and express great regret for their support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Too many others just push ahead, pretending like it never happened, "oops". People can be very forgiving when the regrets are heartfelt and sincere.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #13)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 03:18 PM

16. In any case, most hedge their bets with OTOH counter statements

that they can point to later to show they were and are always wise.

That "just push ahead," though..! I remember Cokie Roberts and her group getting everything 100% wrong three elections in a row and apologizing and examining their mistakes at length. Three was apparently too many. They were wrong the next time also (!) but skipped the postmortem on themselves.

Makes sense. Network bias can't stand up to scrutiny. It also took away valuable time from explaining that (usually Democratic) politicians got/are getting/will get/always get everything wrong.

In any case, SOP for cable shows as a whole is instant wisdom on new positions, minimal to no "oops." Maybe we should be grateful. In this crazy era, opening shows with apologies twice a week, or even oftener, might be a bit much.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #16)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 03:31 PM

17. Yes, three or even more profound apologies

is overkill and a definite indication that the person is in the wrong vocation. That said, everyone is wrong now and then, so it is reasonable to expect people to admit it when they are. I agree that if you are apologizing pretty much all the time, you are not an expert or a pundit, you are just wrong.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #17)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 05:28 PM

20. Lol. Occurs to me, maybe another side of the problem might lie with

some viewers having become accustomed to simple and unambiguous takeaways, even for incredibly complex and dynamic situations. It is a business, after all.

Look what happened when the CDC issued, yes, simple but changing statements over a few days due to rapidly evolving data. Of course it was the media who first claimed people were running around clutching their heads and unable to sleep due to confusion. (Few noticed. even fewer concerned.) Maybe, though, it wasn't only suggestibility that caused even some intelligent people who were to become aggressively resentful. Maybe CNN no longer dares to let viewers see the many dark holes of uncertainty and unknowability their instant-experts-on-all-things routinely have to work around. Not the product they've been selling.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #20)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 08:48 AM

25. People today want everything

tied together in a neat comprehensible package. It is a sitcom mentality - wrap up complex issues in 30 minutes with simple, predictable answers and move on to the next episode before we get bored. There is rarely time to ask questions or absorb information, because the media bombards their audiences with nonstop stories in an effort to hold their attention.

Most people don't want complex issues. They don't want to think for themselves.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #25)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 10:26 AM

26. Yes. We've all been TV trained,

usually starts even before potty training.

Politics and political forums are definitely for the tough. Every once in a while frustration with episodes that never become understandable and never resolve in tidy, satisfactory endings gets so great I wonder if someone's head's exploding.

Happy Saturday.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #26)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 11:25 AM

27. Yes, it started years ago with the mindless

shows we were exposed to on TV. Instead of reading or talking with one another, families watched dumbed down, predictable garbage night after night. So many are conditioned to that. Personally, I get restless and irritable if a movie or a show is predictable, but apparently that is comfortable to many people. I like unique and creative.

Happy Saturday to you!

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Response to msfiddlestix (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 12:38 PM

30. Yeah, Tom, we will know in the next six months, Friedman

When interviewed on TV when there was another surge of US troops into Iraq/Afghanistan, he would always say that the next six months will determine whether we have turned the corner there.

Twenty years of corners

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:26 AM

5. "Mohammed Zahir Shah..what do you think of Biden's decision to just quit Afghanistan

and of the Taliban takeover?"

"Shah: ...if the Taliban try to keep power all by themselves...watch out. The country will eventually resist it, the Taliban will crack down harder, and Afghanistan will not implode — it will explode. It will break up into different regions and hemorrhage refugees and instability. It will be very ugly, and America and Biden will be blamed for the chaos. But America will also be gone. Afghanistan then will be a huge problem for its neighbors, particularly Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

Friedman:
Hmm. Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran? Maybe Biden had that in mind all along."

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:33 AM

7. oh, the mustache of understanding

Last edited Fri Aug 20, 2021, 12:27 PM - Edit history (1)

piss on that guy.

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Response to KG (Reply #7)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 11:46 AM

10. "The mustache of wisdom"

I have to remember that one. I can think of several people to use it on. Definitely applies to Mr. Friedman.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #10)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 12:27 PM

12. from 'get your war on comics' 2001 (oops, I misremembered)

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Response to KG (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 12:46 PM

14. Oh my god, that is brilliant

A perfect addition to this thread! Thank you.

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Response to KG (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 01:24 PM

15. LOL. That's a riot!.

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Response to KG (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 04:06 PM

19. "Who knew my third eye was hiding in your moustache?"



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Response to KG (Reply #7)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 07:56 PM

24. Yes. Fuck the mustache of understanding. He was all for that fucking war back in the day.

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Aug 20, 2021, 05:33 PM

21. Google "Friedman Unit"

Fuck that guy.

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 11:46 AM

28. He's awesome in this.

The Afghanistan War to flush out Al Qaeda and punish the Taliban for letting Al Qaeda use their territory was necessary. Dubya, Cheney and company set us up for it all by failing to pay attention to Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. They allowed an attack to happen through incompetence, ignorance, oil greed, arrogance, and an "anything but Clinton" attitude. (Trump later did practically the same thing with COVID-19.)

Once the 9/11 attack happened, the United States had to do something. We just shouldn't have stayed and tried to nation build in Afghanistan. Dubya created ISIS (founded in Iraq) by stampeding us into war with Iraq. Dubya converted us to nation building in Afghanistan. We're still in Dubya's ME screwup world. Dubya is arguably Trump's political father. No ISIS; no Muslim refugee crisis to exploit. No Muslim refugee crisis to exploit; no Trump (and no Brexit...).

As far as calling Friedman a "neocon" or whatever, I think that's not productive. The data changes; the approach changes, like Dr. Fauci is always reminding us.

I love that Friedman pointed out that 70% of Afghanis are under 25.

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Response to gulliver (Reply #28)

Sat Aug 21, 2021, 12:22 PM

29. Merci!

I am not uncritical of Friedman for the reason you stated, but thought his provocative article provided a compelling perspective and context for Biden’s courageous actions.

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