You can always count on Tom Friedman at the New York Times to take incredibly complex events and create dangerously simple analogies out of them. Writing exclusively to the 'I work very hard and can't be bothered to read real books' audience of upper middle class white males, Friedman is probably one of the greatest dangers to democracy alive. After all, there is nothing worse than a misinformed voter who believes he understands global politics because he read The World is Flat. That's how wars get sold.
On Sunday, Friedman penned another mind bogglingly stupid piece where he tried to distill everything going on in the world into three distinct trends.
"If it feels as though the world of disorder is expanding against the world of order," writes Friedman. "It’s not your imagination. There’s an unfortunate logic to it." And thankfully, Tom Friedman is ready to explain it to you! The first, get ready for it, is people being "unfree." He writes:
Three big trends are converging. The first is what one of my teachers Dov Seidman calls the growing number of “un-free” people in the world — the millions who “have secured a certain kind of freedom but yet feel un-free because they’re now aware that they don’t have the kind of freedom that matters most.”
So Tom Friedman's buddy - who runs some sort of inspired leadership company, believes that there is political upheaval in the world because people are becoming aware that they are "unfree." This profound insight (surely the first in history) neatly sets the reader up for the next trend - the cost of all these people being pissed off because they are 'unfree':
Containing and shrinking the world of disorder is a huge task, precisely because it involves so much nation-building — beyond the capacity of any one country. Which leads to the second disturbing trend today: how weak or disjointed the whole world of order is. The European Union is mired in an economic/unemployment slump. China behaves like it’s on another planet, content to be a free-rider on the international system. And Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is playing out some paranoid czarist fantasy in Ukraine, while the jihadist world of disorder encroaches from the south.
Oh hark the days when the world was neatly ordered under American leadership! Now it's a free for all with reckless Russian violence, pesky free-loading Chinese, and pathetic Europeans trying to keep their beloved welfare state while their economies fall apart. What a mess! If only America could come back to the rescue...This leads us to Friedman's next golden nugget of wisdom:
Now add a third trend, and you can really get worried: America is the tent pole holding up the whole world of order. But our inability to agree on policies that would ensure our long-term economic vitality — an immigration bill that would ease the way for energetic and talented immigrants; a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would replace income and corporate taxes; and government borrowing at these low rates to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs, while gradually phasing in long-term fiscal rebalancing — is the definition of shortsighted.
As you can see, hidden within Friedman's third mind blowing revelation that the US is a 'tent pole', he slipped in his own neat prescription for fixing the countries woes in only four bullet points. You could even boil Friedman's analysis down into the following flow chart:
The world is fucked because:
People know they are unfree > Therefore the world is disjointed>Therefore it needs a tent pole to hold it up >Therefore we need a carbon tax.
All of this leads to Friedman's conclusion that the next great struggle of our times comes down to 'order vs disorder', and pleads for Western collaboration in defeating the disorderly and engaging in nation building. Which is kind of like 2002 when he wrote column after column arguing for intervention in Iraq and setting up "a progressive Arab regime" there in order to stop the spread of Muslim rage. And we all know how that turned out.
On a serious note, how is it that Friedman gets paid a ludicrous sum of money by a supposedly respectable newspaper to churn this stuff out? After all, they could get it for free, and no one would know the difference.