Friedman Blames Israelis For Consequences of Arab Spring

Thomas Friedman appears to be attempting to distance himself from the disastrous consequences of all the columns on the Arab world he wrote over the past few years. These op-eds predicted the “wonders” of democracy would miraculously bring hope and rationality to the Middle East. This weekend, Friedman had the gall to blame the Israelis for not better accommodating millions of Arabs who would happily pursue a second Jewish Holocaust were the Israelis not so competent at defending themselves.

He begins his column breathlessly with:

“I’ve never been more worried about Israel’s future. The crumbling of key pillars of Israeli’s security — the peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship of Turkey and Jordan — coupled with the most diplomatically inept and strategically incompetent government in Israel’s history have put Israel in a very dangerous situation.”

He elaborates further:

“Israel is not responsible for the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt or for the uprising in Syria or for Turkey’s decision to seek regional leadership by cynically trashing Israel or for the fracturing of the Palestinian national movement between the West Bank and Gaza. What Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, is responsible for is failing to put forth a strategy to respond to all of these in a way that protects Israel’s long-term interests.”

Friedman may indeed worry about Israel’s future; however, his idealistic notions of democracy leading to puppies and butterflies for everyone in the Arab world were at best naive.

At worst, he influenced the current administration’s pursuit of policies that will likely deliver the Middle East into the hands of Islamists. In August, he wrote:

“I still believe that the democratic impulse by all these Arab peoples to throw off their dictators is heroic and hugely positive. They will oust all of them in the end. But the new dawn will take time to appear.”

I, of course, strongly disagree with this notion. The reason democracy has not been successful in the Middle East for over three thousand years is likely because of its unique culture. After all, the Arab world never had its own version of the West’s Reformation, Renaissance, and Enlightenment. Yet many liberals, and neoconservatives for that matter, fervently believe that all people somehow think like Westerners.

The natural implications of this “end of history” nonsense have led to an Israel with increasingly unstable borders.

Yet, rather than admit the obvious – that subsequent events have proven Friedman’s misguided, Western-centric idealism colossally wrong — he doubles down by blaming a nation under siege for not being accommodative enough.

Mr. Netanyahu’s strategy of fortifying the Israeli porcupine is the only strategy that is left for the Israeli prime minister, particularly after Israel’s apparent abandonment by the Obama administration.

Now the Obama administration is left with the natural consequences of its own abandonment of three decades of sound U.S. Middle Eastern policy. It is now in the unenviable position of having to veto a U.N. resolution on Palestinian statehood.

So much for the end of history.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
This entry was posted in Defense, Energy Security, International Security, Middle East, Peak Oil, Policy, Terrorism, War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Friedman Blames Israelis For Consequences of Arab Spring

  1. Moe says:

    Sean – are you familiar with the “Friedman Unit”? It emerged in the lefty blogsphere starting around ’04. A Friendman Unit is a six month period of time, as in ‘the next six months will tell the story in Iraq/Afghanistan”, or “the next six months will determine the future of . . . ” blah, blah, blah. He used the phrase over and over again. For convenience sake, the blogshpere shortened it to F.U.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    Japan never had a renaissance and enlightenment either. But the world moves forward and with globalization you can’t just resign a major part of the world to eternal darkness because the Ottoman Empire was so corrupt and stagnate. Ideas spread, communication grows, and dictatorships won’t be tolerated by the youth in those countries. I think change is inevitable, but such transitions are always dangerous. I don’t think keeping them from happening will help — it’s like a pressure cooker.

  3. Scott Erb says:

    Oh, and we can return a favor. Europe was stuck in the dark ages of Augustinian other-worldliness when Islamic rationalist scholars (at that time the Islamic world was more tolerant, open to science and educated than the West), especially Avicenna and Averroes, helped bring Aristotle to the West. Aquinas led the church to adopt his approach in the 1200s, and the climb towards the renaissance (spurred in large part by info coming from Muslim knowledge captured in Spain when the Christians took the pennisula) and enlightenment began. Islamic rationalism once dominated in the Arab world, but military threats helped the Ottomans gain power. Islamic rationalism was banned, a conservative puritan form of the religion adopted, and the region stagnated. But you could say we in the West owe a debt to the Islamic world — they started our spurt towards modernity. Perhaps we can return the favor!

    • I’ll give them Algebra, and the fact that Islamic culture reached its heights while Europe recovered from the dark ages. Yet, Islam spent centuries trying to conquer western Christendom, culminating with the siege of Vienna in 1683. I think you give them too much credit (though they do deserve some).

      • Moe says:

        Scott’s point is a good one. It was the Islamic world htat preserved the writings of the Greeks – from politics to the arts – which early Christians were busy destroying. Had that not been done we’d have an entirely different world.

        They were indeed enlightened back then. And of course, during “Islam’s most enlightened period” monarchy or tyranny reigned supreme everywhere. The idea of democracy was still hidden in those salvaged Greek writings.

      • Scott Erb says:

        My point was it was because of Islamic rationalism that the West started to change — until that point Islam was more tolerant and open. When the crusaders took Jerusalem from the Muslims they said “convert or die.” When the Muslims took it back they allowed people to remain. The rationalist period ended when the crusades and invasions from Asia allowed the Ottomans to install a military dictatorship, and they were imperialists. They made a deal with the most conservative elements of Islam to give them religious authority in exchange for accepting Ottoman legitimacy. That’s when they started to fall behind Europe. Although if you want to talk about what culture is more violent I’d point out colonialism, two world wars, the holocaust, communism, nuclear weapons…both sides can point to vicious things the other culture did.

        My point is still that Islam is going to be with us — it’s one of the world’s great religions, and it has in the past embraced toleration and rationalism. The goal now is for us to help them do that again, and to recognize that supporting dictators in the region will only cause more resentment to us and ultimately is not in our interests.

        • “The goal now is for us to help them do that again, and to recognize that supporting dictators in the region will only cause more resentment to us and ultimately is not in our interests.”

          I understand where you are coming from and I appreciate it. My head is just filled with disfunctional examples from multiple friends who have served in the region. I see radical Islam as a permanent impediment to any future in the region. I believe that if we did not need oil, we would ignore the region for good.

          Cynical, I know, but based on the experiences of people who served in the region.

    • Also, I forgot to mention that even during Islam’s most enlightened period, monarchy reigned supreme.

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