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Tom Friedman’s War on Humanity

The Spring 2012 issue of Jacobin Magazine has just been released and I’m honored to have a featured essay: “Tom Friedman’s War on Humanity”. The following is an excerpt. Click here to subscribe to the magazine’s print edition for a modest sum.

Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist for theNew York Timesonce offered the following insight into his modus operandi: “I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself.”

Some might see this as an unsurprising revelation in light of Edward Said’s appraisal: “It’s as if … what scholars, poets, historians, fighters, and statesmen have done is not as important or as central as what Friedman himself thinks.”

According to Friedman, the purpose of the auto-interviews is merely to analyze his feelings on certain issues. Given that his feelings tend to undergo drastic inter- and sometimes intra-columnar modifications, one potentially convenient byproduct of such an approach to journalism is the impression that Friedman interviews many more people than he actually does.

For example, while one of Friedman’s alter-egos considered blasphemous the “Saddamist” notion that the Iraq war had anything to do with oil, another was of the opinion that the war was “partly about oil,” and another appeared to be under the impression that it was entirely about oil, assigning the blame for U.S. troop deaths in Fallujah to Hummer proprietors. Despite Friedman’s identification as “a liberal on every issue other than this war,” competing layers of his persona defined said conflict as “themost radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched” as well as part of a “neocon strategy.”

(more…)

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