The title for Taibbi’s latest blog post:
And if you take the time to read Friedman’s New York Times piece ‘Syria is Iraq‘, it’s hard to disagree. Just take a look at these two completely contradictory and nonsensical paragraphs:
1. And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can’t go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.
2. Because of both U.S. incompetence and the nature of Iraq, this U.S. intervention triggered a civil war in which all the parties in Iraq – Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds – tested the new balance of power, inflicting enormous casualties on each other and leading, tragically, to ethnic cleansing that rearranged the country into more homogeneous blocks of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
I’d love to pile on here, but Taibbi does such a good job I can’t really compete:
This pair of passages can be summed up in a Friedman-syllogism:
1. Syria will not become Switzerland unless it has the kind of help America gave to Iraq.
2. When America helped Iraq, it triggered a terrifying four-sided civil war that left the country reeling in blood-soaked, genocidal chaos and hopelessly partitioned along ethnic and religious lines – very much like Switzerland, where a diverse collection of ethnic groups speaking different languages live peacefully under democratic rule.
3. Therefore, when your wife needs help giving birth, she should hire a midwife who stands outside the door and carries an automatic weapon.
I wrote a piece a few weeks back arguing that Friedman’s writing was actively dangerous because of his massive oversimplification of complicated events, but I’m not so sure now. Friedman is becoming less and less comprehensible making his writing pretty meaningless – and that’s a good thing.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.