Sticking it to Friedman (and all the rest)
Attacking Thomas Friedman hardly seems worth the time it takes, but at least when Brian Leiter does it, he does it right:
Thomas Friedman of the NY Times remains as juvenile as he was the last time I bothered to lambast him (with help from the lovely Karl Kraus: "No ideas and the ability to express them: that's a journalist.").
The problem this time? Friedman seems to think the Saudis care more about nurturing democracy in Iraq than do the Germans or French. Uh huh. I mean DAMN that's a stupid thing to say.
I don't want to be flippant, but it seems to me that one of the more obvious local costs of this Iraq episode has been the tremendous plummet we've seen in the quality of writing and commentary almost across the board. I'm talking about newspapers, political magazines, and especially blogs. Instapundit is only the most obvious example... there are plenty of others (on both sides) who have become increasingly unreadable, and it's been a really sad development. I'm not even talking about civility. I'm talking about intelligence. That's a big reason you won't get much war/peace-blogging from me. I know better than to think I've got an intelligent contribution to make. It'd be nice if Friedman et al had the same realization.
UPDATE: I'd like exhibit A in this trial on the stupidity of current Iraq dialogue to be the constant analogies between WWII occupations and present-day Iraq ("Oh look at all the resistance that was put up," "Look at how multilateral it was back then, and don't forget the Marshall Plan," "Back then it took 5 years, have some patience"; see this post and its comments for examples). Let me just lay out a few mild, uncontroversial statistics and see how they compare...
WWII: War started by German and Japanese aggression, US resists entrance until territory is attacked, 6 years of total warfare, 3 years of bombing German cities, 1 year of bombing Japanese cities (including 2 nuclear detonations), 7 million dead Germans, 2 million dead Japanese, total defeat and unconditional surrender of the German and Japanese governments.
Iraq: War started by US under preemption doctrine, 4 weeks of warfare, 4 weeks of bombing, under 10,000 Iraqi deaths, Iraqi military seems to disappear into thin air, Iraqi leaders go into hiding.
That ought to be enough. The statistics speaking for themselves, I hereby declare a moratorium on any further analogies between the occupations of Japan and Germany and the occupation of Iraq, either in support of or criticism of our current operations. The differences in the situations are so vast that any such analogy is henceforth considered per se inapt.