Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tom Friedman, Smartest Man on Earth, says radical Islam is losing


Tom, you are my hero (well, you and Big Al). You make so much sense, suggest such brilliant solutions, and generally agree with me on almost everything. I would like to formally submit my application to join the "Tom Friedman Mentoring Society". I may also get a "Tom Freidman is My Hero" t-shirt to go along with the "Al Gore is My Hero" shirt already in my closet.

Not kidding about the t-shirt. The sentiment happens to be true; I am a supporter of We Can Solve It and Repower America, but the shirt itself is a good way to start an argument in good old suburban North Texas.

At any rate, My Other Hero Tom wrote in yesterday's NYT about the current state of the jihad. Did you notice the radical Islamists are losing the War of Terror? Well, they are.

As Tom so deftly points out, everywhere the the Beardy Boys have taken charge (Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Gaza, Lebanon, Iran, etc), they have brought with them total economic stagnation (if not outright retreat), lowered standards of living and education, unnecessary and unwanted violence, repression, etc etc etc. And now we're seeing militant Islamists lose elections (Lebanon, Iraq) or steal elections (Iran). The Paki middle class is tired of bombs in the streets of Peshwar and have withdrawn support for the Taliban and foreign rebels causing trouble in the Northwest.

The bad news is that the US' friends in the Arab world, those shining examples of secular, progressive, populist democracy like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are not really "winning", despite their medieval rivals' decline. This lack of a better idea is what keeps the jihadists in business, albeit in a much more limited capacity.

Go read the op-ed, along with everything Tom Friedman has ever written. The man's a genius.

12 comments:

Comic Shop Dreamer said...

Hmmmm .... Stupid radical Islam! I mean religious conservatives taking control of the government and bringing with them "total economic stagnation, lowered standards of living and education, unnecessary and unwanted violence, repression, etc etc etc" -- thank goodness nothing like that could ever happen in this here good ol' USA! America Rules!

Wait... what?

PHE said...

You're not seriously comparing the recent economic downturn in the US and the west to the total lack of societal progress demonstated over the past 30 years in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan? Are you?

You're also not seriously comparing the conservative Bush administration and it's emphasis on faith to the 14th century methods of the Taliban or Hezbollah? Are you?

Listen, there's lots to complain about in the US over the past 8 or 9 years. No argument there. But comparing what's happened here to what's happened in the Islamic world, esp the fundamentalist Islamic world, is comparing apples to sewing machines.

Comic Shop Dreamer said...

Not making a direct comparison, for that would be the height of folly, n'est pas? Just pointing out in a snarky manner that every time religious fundamentalism enters into the political arean, things get fucked.

Has there been a politically and economically stable theocracy in the last century? I honestly don't know.

PHE said...

Not one I can think of either. Part of the point here, for sure. More importantly, the average Syed, Mohammed, and Ramzi on the Islamic street is starting to figure it out as well.

It's important to remember that, while religion inserts itself into Western politics more often than you or I (or a lot of others) would like, Western democracies are fundamentally secular. Sometimes the zealots are in a position to make more noise than their numbers warrant, sometimes they are not. But, when you look at the big picture, Western democracies are rational, secular, and based on the rule of man's law.

Thank God (irony intended).

Anonymous said...

PHE...quite the supposition you're positing. Apples to sewing machines indeed. A "total lack of societal progess" on behalf of the "beardy boys" feels a bit ardent on your part. A worldview or 'big picture' vision of Western Democracy as rational and following the rule of man's law seems to follow a very similar level of zealotry exhibited by those less informed than yourself in the "Islamic world." The apparent and continual use of force by Western Democracy's on those that do not follow a Western view of "man's rule of law" does not seem particulary rational. The justified use of force by the West speaks to a level of 'righteous just cause' that is questionable in a secular society.

PHE said...

Oh, how I love the punk-ass anonymous comment!

Well, Mr./Ms. Anonymous, on the off chance you ever stop by here:

A lot of big words in there, pardner. Excellent use of quotation marks, as well. Points off for improper use of the apostrophe, though.

Not completely sure what it is you're trying to say. I get the gist that you are taking issue with my point of view as well my poor attempts at levity.

You seem to be offended that the West uses force on those that do not follow a Western view of "man's rule of law" (misquote, btw). It might be interesting to get the German and Italian point of view on that one, but I'll give you the past 30 years or so as our time horizon.

Which came first, my friend, Western use of force or Islamic use of force? How does Israel figure into things? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you are no fan of Israel, so there's a whole other argument we can have.

As for the line about lack of societal progress in the Islamic world - please tell me if you really think an oil-free Arabian peninsula would be better off or worse off than current Sub-Saharan Africa. Without that black stuff, I suggest a sizable percentage of the Islamic world resemble garden spots like Chad and Mali.

Sign your name to the next one, homes. I love a debate, but only with live humans.

Comic Shop Dreamer said...

Wow -- I didn't realize there were other people out there reading this. Hats off to Anonymous for speaking his or her mind. I was a bit taken aback by the tone of your response, though, bro. You say you "love a debate", but when someone is confronteded with belittling and bullying, they tend to want to side-step further intellectual discourse with that particular individual. I hope that is not the case here, and that Anonymous will continue his or her thoughts on this matter.

Anyway, as to the question of which came first, "Western use of force or Islamic use of force", am I allowed to talk about Colonialism or the Crusades? Or does this just water down the conversation and make more of an issue of cause and effect than you originally intended?

Also, do we want to start talking about Tom Friedman himself? Or does this, too, take away from this discussion?

BTW, I believe the slang term you were trying to use is "Holmes", not "homes". After your response, I cannot imagine Anonymous is looking forward to you moving in anytime soon -- hehehehe.

So, Anonymous, thanks for taking the time to respond. I, for one, appreciate the discourse, and I am anxious to hear how you may respond next.

PHE said...

I do like a debate. However, I despise the anonymous commenter with a bone to pick. If you've got an opinion, sign your friggin' name to it. Or at least your silly Internet handle.

Be warned, future CIT commenters. If you have something to say, own it. Otherwise, you can expect a relentless attack on your grammar and punctuation!

And, by the way,"homes" would be short for "home-boy" or "homey". Holmes is a guy with a pipe and funny hat. And, according to Robert Downey Jr., mad UFC skillz.

Anonymous said...

no fear PHE
surfing Friedman
arrived at Curmudgeon

anonymity will remain intact
due to the relentless
opinion often expressed
within the refuge of another
justified attack
by a curmudgeon

hate
is the marrow of our
debate
this bone does not need to be picked

opinion
is an expression of freedom
thank you for preserving mine
(Levity)

ownership
punk ass
yours truly,
Friggin

PHE said...

Oh dear. We've escalated to free verse. What's next? Lyrics from bad 80s pop songs?

Dude/dudette, I'm really sorry I hurt your feelings. If you'd like to make a cogent argument and indicate that you are, in fact, the same human throughout, I'd be happy to debate facts and opinion with you all day.

However, if you're going to hide behind cutesy, pseudo-intellectual writing structures and vague indications of disagreement, I really have better things to do.

Comic Shop Dreamer said...

Come on, bro -- Bad 80's pop song is an oxymoron! I mean, what's love got to do with it anyway? Don't you forget about me.

Regardless, I am shocked and awed by Anonymous' (or Friggin???)sudden use of "free verse" (or is that Free Bird -- whoops, wrong decade -- but I digress), but he or she does seem to point to a specific thing (I think), and that is the concept of hate. Hate tends to come from (but is not always the result of) "fear of other", a territory well staked out by Neo-Cons such as Friedman. Perhaps Anonymous (or Friggin???) -- and I will admit going out on a very thin limb here -- is taking more umbrage at the sudden diefication on your part of a gentleman as complex and enigmatic as Tom Friedman.

Let's talk about him for awhile. Tomorrow I would like to post my sense of "Toothy Tom" and his mustasched mania. Then let's see what Anonymous (or Friggin????) has to say (if anything, if you haven't scared him or her off by now).

I'll stop the world and melt with you.

PHE said...

Tom Friedman is a Neo-Con? When did that happen?

I need a moment to digest that one.

The lead has been buried here. I am all for debate and exchange of ideas. Just give some indication that you are, in fact, the same human throughout the debate. Google IDs are not foolproof, and it's entirely possible that we'll get a shed-load of "Friggin"s milling about, but I doubt it. I just want a name or handle. "Anonymous" is chicken-s.

Please do post a bit on "Toothy Tom" - I want to see what I have obviously missed. Tom. Neo-Con. The mind fairly reels...