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.