The New York Times Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Thomas Friedman, by his own definition, is insane. Many understood this when he published The Lexus and the Olive Tree and asserted that military socialism was a good thing because it promoted American business:
McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. And these fighting forces and institutions are paid for by American taxpayer dollars.
However, this only makes Friedman insane for those that watched America’s surge towards global economic saturation as a bubble of self-inflated hubris (as the current financial crisis is beginning to reveal). It takes a very specific kind of crazy to meet Friedman’s own high standards.
Remarkably, he has managed to meet them. Glenn Greenwald reported yesterday at Salon.com on Friedman’s latest assertion. In discussing the case of Nidal Malik Hasan and the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Friedman stated:
Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced — I assume anyone who shoots up innocent people is.
To this Greenwald applied the Friedman test and, sure enough, he fit the definition perfectly.
Tom Friedman, The Charlie Rose Show, May 30, 2003:
ROSE: Now that the war is over, and there’s some difficulty with the peace, was it worth doing?
FRIEDMAN: I think it was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie. I think that, looking back, I now certainly feel I understand more what the war was about . . . . What we needed to do was go over to that part of the world, I’m afraid, and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically, and take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that bubble. . . .
And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going from house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: which part of this sentence do you understand? You don’t think we care about our open society? . . . . Well, Suck. On. This. That, Charlie, was what this war was about.
We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth.
Tom Friedman, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, September 23, 2003 (via NEXIS):
That’s what I believe ultimately this war was about. And guess what? People there got the message, OK, in the neighborhood. This is a rough neighborhood, and sometimes it takes a 2-by-4 across the side of the head to get that message.
I expect that Friedman will now take a leave of absence from his post at The Times and seek the help that he so clearly needs. If he won’t leave voluntarily than perhaps it’s time for an intervention. But his diagnosis raises further troubling questions. If the United States premier foreign affairs correspondent is insane, what does that say about U.S. foreign policy?