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Robert Scheer
Truthdig / Truthdig Op-Ed
Published: Friday 23 December 2011
“Within weeks, the U.S.-directed invasion showed that the French had been right and there were no weapons of mass destruction, just as the dictator had asserted.”

On to the Next ‘Bubble Fantasy’

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Few journalists have greater influence on U.S. foreign policy, particularly regarding the Middle East, than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. But his tortured obit of a column this week on the official end of the neocolonialist disaster that has been the Iraq occupation reminds one that the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner often gets it wrong.

Was the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which he did so much to encourage, a “wise choice”? Friedman hides behind one of his trademark ambiguities: “My answer is twofold: ‘No’ and ‘Maybe, sort of, we’ll see.’ I say ‘no’ because whatever happens in Iraq, even if it becomes Switzerland, we overpaid for it.”

Aside from the stunning amorality of assessing the cost of war from the standpoint of the royal “we,” Friedman seems wildly optimistic about what the invasion has wrought. On a day when Iraq’s prime minister, a Shiite, demanded that the leader of the Kurds arrest the Sunni vice president, Friedman celebrated the unity of the three groups as “the most important product of the Iraq war.” He blamed the failure of the U.S. occupation to accomplish more, in roughly equal measure, on “the incompetence of George W. Bush’s team in prosecuting the war,” “Iran, the Arab dictators and, most of all, Al Qaeda,” which he seems surprised to report “did not want a democracy in the heart of the Arab world.”

President Bush’s argument for the invasion was not based on democratic nation-building but rather on two specific lies that Friedman has long danced around: that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened U.S. security and that it was somehow linked to the 9/11 attacks. Friedman now insists “Iraq was always a war of choice. As I never bought the argument that Saddam had nukes that had to be taken out, the decision to go to war stemmed for me from a different choice: Could we ... tilt it and the region onto a democratizing track?”

That is not quite true, for Friedman had been pushing the notion of an Iraqi nuclear threat as far back as July 7, 1991, when he severely criticized the first President Bush for leaving Saddam in power in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, arguing that “Mr. Hussein has a unique personal incentive to continue trying to obtain a nuclear weapon quickly.” Friedman wrote critically of what he considered President Bill Clinton’s tepid response to Iraq’s supposed WMD threat, with the columnist warning in December of 2002 that “Saddam Hussein was an expert at hiding his war toys and, having four years without inspections, had probably buried everything good under mosques or cemeteries.”

Friedman was a particularly harsh critic of the French, who wanted to triple the number of U.N. weapons inspectors and let them finish their work before rushing to war. Friedman in February of 2003 argued that “the inspections have failed not because of a shortage of inspectors. They have failed because of a shortage of compliance on Saddam’s part, as the French know. The way you get compliance out of a thug like Saddam is not by tripling the inspectors, but by tripling the threat that if he does not comply he will be faced with a UN-approved war.”

Within weeks, the U.S.-directed invasion showed that the French had been right and there were no weapons of mass destruction, just as the dictator had asserted. Nor was any plausible evidence ever produced for the second pillar of Bush’s justification for the invasion, which Friedman endorsed, that overthrowing Saddam was a valid response to the 9/11 attacks. Friedman said on the Charlie Rose television program in 2003 that what terrorists worldwide needed to see “was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um, and basically saying, ‘Which part of the sentence don’t you understand?’ You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just going to let it grow? Well, suck on this. 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. ...”

Such was the cynical melding of the al-Qaida threat with the justification for the invasion that Friedman again evoked this week in The New York Times: “So, no matter the original reasons for the war, in the end, it came down to this: Were America and its Iraqi allies going to defeat Al Qaeda and its allies in the heart of the Arab world or were Al Qaeda and its allies going to defeat them?” But al-Qaida was not present in the heart of the Arab world until the United States deposed Saddam, the sworn enemy of those religious fanatics. 

At the core of Friedman’s worldview is the assumption that the most brutal and contradictory applications of U.S.-supplied military power are by definition civilizing because this nation owns the brand defining freedom and democracy. The preservation of that brand, no matter the lengths of deceit required, is for Friedman the inevitably noble end that justifies the most despicable of means.

That Friedman is a skilled obfuscator should no longer come as a revelation. But that his self-serving feints at the truth can still earn him a place of high regard in the world of journalism is a sad commentary on the profession that has rewarded him so lucratively.

This article was originally posted on Truthdig.

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ABOUT Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. His columns appear in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He conducted the famous Playboy magazine interview in which Jimmy Carter confessed to the lust in his heart and he went on to do many interviews for the Los Angeles Times with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and many other prominent political and cultural figures.



The New York Times isn't a

The New York Times isn't a credible source of fact or speculation on any subject contingent to Israel. Friedman is not the only Zionist on staff.

Friedman, another Federation

Friedman, another Federation "droid," with a software glitch.

What is being missed is

What is being missed is Freidman's core motivation despite his assumption of a faux-liberal/intellectual/academic identity: he is an inveterate Zionist! And as such finds (what he imagines to be ) clever rhetorical disguises for his true motivations.

I predicted to friends last

I predicted to friends last year that when the US pulls out of Iraq, it would (1) blow apart into its constituent parts, Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds or (2) turn into an Islamic Republic. If the Shia form their own state, it's still likely to become an Islamic Republic like its neighbor to the east. And when I say "blow apart" I mean civil war. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, he maintained equilibrium in Iraq, albeit by murderous methods. When it's all said and done, I think we will have failed in Iraq and for what? Ultimately we will have created a much more unstable situation in the Middle East. Let Mr. Bush and his former entourage answer why we did it. The American people deserve as much.

Friedman likes to say that

Friedman likes to say that "the world is flat". But the only thing flat is Friedman's head.

Sorry Traveller123, Friedman

Sorry Traveller123, Friedman doesn't do it for the money. He married into the 1%. He does it for the power. Were he anything but a columnist, he'd have been fired for incompetence long ago. When painted into a corner, the Times will let someone go, like whatshername who was filing false dispatches about Iraq's WMD.

I've thought that Friedman

I've thought that Friedman was a fake for some years. I think that his "after the facts" defense proves it. He's either a much poorer reasoner than recognized or a shallow prevaricator. I stopped listening/reading him some time ago.

Journalists, and/or their

Journalists, and/or their corporate masters do great damage to themselves, and Americans' trust in their reporting when they create news, rather than simply report only the corroborated facts of a story. Case-in-point is the reporting on Friday, November 22, 1963. The day President John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.

During the police/Sheriff's physical investigation of the closed off Texas
School Book Depository building on the sixth floor southeast corner window area and the rest of the sixth floor, a gun, identified as a German
manufactured Mauser 7.65 mm military rifle was found by police and sheriff's deputies, including Seymour Weitzman, a gun expert.

Walter Cronkite, told about this by his superiors at CBS News, re-
-ported the discovery of the German military weapon on nationwide
TV news. This same report was given many times by Cronkite and others
with other network news programs. Suddenly, at around noon on Saturday,
24 hours after the assassination, the story changed. Suddenly the gun was no longer a Mauser 7.65 mm rifle, but a Mannlicher-Carcano, 6.5 mm, much
smaller rifle with a clip lock that stuck in place, making the discharge of a spent shell much to difficult to recycle within the needed time frame in order to shoot within those 5.6 seconds needed for three shots.

They had found a weapon, the large German weapon, but one with no Oswald fingerprints on it. Woops. That weapon had to go. Oswald's
Mannlicher-Carcano was stored in the garage of CIA asset, Ruth Paine's home in Irving, Texas, where Oswald's wife and two children lived while
Oswald lived only a few miles from his CIA-assigned job at the Texas School Book Depository. He had been told that he was there to cause the known plot to kill Kennedy to be "aborted." That is, stopped.

A photo exists in several assassination researchers's well documented
book, showing the same Rambler stationwagon as the one Ruth Paine owned, in Dealey Plaza a short while after the shooting of Kennedy. Oswald's rifle, known by Mrs. Paine, and Oswald's wife, Marina to
have been stored in Mrs. Paine's garage, was missing from the garage
when Dallas Police arrived to speak with Marina. Mrs. Paine had given
Lee Oswald a set of curtain rods that morning for his room at the Oak Cliff
rooming house where Lee lived. He spent the night there so he could get the
curtain rods from Mrs. Paine. He took them in to work with him. He did not
know that his CIA handlers knew about this from Mrs. Paine who worked for the CIA, as did her estranged husband, Michael.

Billy Lovelady, who looked much like Lee Oswald, and was an employee of the Texas School Book Depository, told reporters and researchers that he was present on the sixth floor when the German Mauser 7.65 mm gun was
found. Those reports were squashed by a powerful man who rode two cars
behind Kennedy in the motorcade that day. He took Kennedy's place in Washington. He even spoke with Dr. Charles Crenshaw when Oswald, after
mafia thug, Jack Ruby, shot Oswald in front of large numbers of police and press in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963. Crenshaw was ordered by the new president to have a certain man in
Trauma Room One where doctors tried to save Oswald's life, take a "death=bed confession" from Lee Oswald, who had, while alive in police custody, steadfastly maintained that he was an innocent "patsy" set up to
take the blame for what he started telling his jailmates was a plot that he had infiltrated for the FBI for whom he was a paid informant; S-179.
He was the author of a note that he hand-carried to his FBI agent to whom he reported, that warned of an assassination plot against Kennedy a week or so before the assassination took place. Indeed, he had tried to stop the event from happening. Those whose groups wanted to kill Kennedy and into whose midst Oswald had infiltrated while acting as one who also wanted Kennedy dead, was shot when the real killers found out that Oswald
was trying to stop them from doing their dirty deed,

See for the documented real story.

Um... Friedman works for

Um... Friedman works for money. Not truth, honor, freedom, courage or justice. Deception is his most useful tools.

Since 2003, Friedman will do

Since 2003, Friedman will do his utmost to justify his support of the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq. He doesn't have the jounalistic intellectual capacity to admitt that he was wrong. On this matter his arrogance and ego have no bounds.

Absolutely right on.

Absolutely right on. Friedman is one of those odious and arrogant scribes whose narcissism obliterates any authentic insight. I suppose he is given credence because his style fits the faux-intellectual pretenses of the elite of an empire in decline and the rah rah drumbeat of s0-called American exceptionalism. Friedman embraces himself as exceptional also. But then again, frauds often do.



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