Monday, October 12, 2009

Thomas Friedman Wants To Give Peace Prize To War People

I'm in the middle of a NyQuil induced mind-slowdown thing right now, but I would be remiss if I didn't fling some poo at Thomas Friedman for his latest brave call for unending war.

The most important thing to remember when reading a Friedman column is that if you find yourself agreeing with him, just keep reading and he'll eventually reveal himself to be the mouth-frothing lunatic that he is. He opens with this passage:

"The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way."

So far, so good. But then, unprovoked, we are launched into Crazy Town. After claiming that Obama should say, "I can't accept this," Friedman then inexplicably writes that Obama should say the following:

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps."

Hey now! That's, um, not what I was expecting.'re saying that self-identified awarded the peace prize. Hmmm.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American men and women who are still on patrol today in Iraq, helping to protect Baghdad’s fledgling government as it tries to organize the rarest of things in that country and that region — another free and fair election."

You have to seriously, seriously love war to take two occupations that virtually every intelligent critic cited as reasons specifically against Obama receiving the Peace prize, and then claim that those occupations actually render our entire war-making apparatus worthy of something called a "Peace prize." Orwell, at least in this case, was right it seems. War is, in fact, Peace--that is, if you're the United States.

Friedman's Op-Ed illustrates as clearly as possible how rampant and internalized the call for unending war is in our punditry class. Even when writing about Peace, there is a call for more war. His jingoistic catalogue of US Military "victories" selectively leaves out any mention of Vietnam, the war of aggression to which both of our current wars of aggression are most often compared.

Furthermore, under Friedman's twisted logic, any wars of future aggression would certainly fall under his rubric of "peace-furthering wars." If Cheney had gotten his way and Bush and Co had bombed Iran, there is no question that Friedman would be nominating those bombs themselves for the Nobel Peace prize. His column might be called, "Nobel Comes Full Circle," and would describe that dynamite-inventing Nobel would want his peace prize to be awarded to literal bombs.

For clarity, it's worth mentioning that this critique of Friedman's column isn't a simultaneous critique of the so-called "troops." I find any use of the phrase "the troops," insulting and reductive, as though there is one "troop" mindset to which all "troops" adhere. Friedman's exploitation of the "troops" in his piece is reminiscent of Bush-era tactics in which pundits would claim to speak for the "troops," only to call for further war. Here, Friedman praises the "troops" as a way to remind his readers how much he loves and appreciates the them, despite his unending desire to put them in situations in which some of them will certainly get killed.

Though individual soldiers may have done things that warrant the awarding of a Peace prize, it takes a truly deranged mindset to believe that an entire war-making infrastructure should be awarded such a prize. My guess is that if the Nobel committee were comprised of 5 Iraqis, one would have a hard time lobbying for an award on behalf of the US Military.

Friedman's logic did inspire me to do one thing though. Next year, I'm nominating him for the Nobel Prize for Intellectual Rigor and Also Bravery on the Battlefield Award (For Being Such A Big Tuff[!] Warrior). I hope he accepts it on my behalf.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Maybe Friedman will pull a double freak on your mind and accept the award on the behalf of all ET: Environmental Technology.

Here's my take on TF's column.