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Thomas Friedman—Greenwashing Imperial Messenger?

My book The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work was recently excerpted at Guernica Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

Despite Friedman’s newfound annoyance that the United States is preoccupied with nation-building abroad and that “the Cheneyites want to make fighting Al Qaeda our Sputnik“ while “China is doing moon shots“ and turning from red to green, he credits the U.S. army with “outgreening al-Qaeda” in Iraq. In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, we learn that this has been achieved via a combination of insulation foam and renewable energy sources, reducing the amount of fuel required to air condition troop accommodations in certain locations.

After speaking with army energy consultant Dan Nolan— whom he “couldn’t help but ask, ’Is anybody in the military saying, “Oh gosh, poor Dan has gone green—has he gone girly-man on us now?“ ’—Friedman announces that the outgreening of Al Qaeda constitutes a typical example:

“of what happens when you try to solve a problem by outgreening the competition—you buy one and you get four free. In Nolan’s case, you save lives by getting [fuel transportation] convoys off the road, save money by lowering fuel costs [from the quoted ‘hundreds of dollars per gallon’ often required to cover delivery], and maybe have some power left over to give the local mosque’s imam so his community might even toss a flower at you one day, rather than a grenade.”

The fourth benefit, courtesy of Nolan, is that soldiers will be so inspired by green efforts at their bases in Iraq that they will “come back to America and demand the same thing for their community or from their factory,“ which Friedman reports as unquestioningly as he does the allegation that the U.S. army prompted the desegregation of America by “show[ing] blacks and whites that they could work together.” As for the first three benefits gotten for “free” with the Al Qaeda outgreening purchase, it should be recalled that the very appearance of Al Qaeda in Iraq was itself no more than a free benefit of the U.S. invasion, as were convoy fatalities, heightened fuel costs for the U.S. military, and grenades. A deal indeed.

Click here to read the excerpt in full at Guernica.

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