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Surprise! Tom Friedman Urges Muslims to Be Statesmen . . . Like Reid, McConnell and SarahNewtwits

Do the op-ed page editors of the New York Times ever wince? Are they embarrassed?

Times columnist Tom Friedman watched the movie Invictus and writes that he wishes Iraq and other Muslim leaders would emulate Nelson Mandela’s "we have to suprise them," by displaying religious/ethnic tolerance and magnanimous statesmanship in Iraq and elsewhere, because, I guess, Suck. On. This anti-bubble diplomacy is, uh, not helpful.

I agree the world is desperate for tolerance, understanding and non-belligerent statesmanship, but it’s surprising — or shocking — that Friedman thinks America has earned the right to lecture others on these qualities. According to Tom, America just "got pulled into" an intra-Muslim fight, the "root of 9/11" and presumably Iraq because we just happened to be allies of one of the sides just to "get their oil." Yeah, we were just innocent bystanders except for the plundering, CIA interventions and invasion stuff.

Read how Friedman describes Iraq’s intra-Muslim wars:

There are at least three different intra-Muslim wars raging today. One is between the Sunni far right and the Sunni far-far right in Saudi Arabia. This was the war between Osama bin Laden (the far-far right) and the Saudi ruling family (the far right). It is a war between those who think women shouldn’t drive and those who think they shouldn’t even leave the house. Bin Laden attacked us because we prop up his Saudi rivals — which we do to get their oil.

In Iraq, you have the pure Sunni- versus-Shiite struggle. And in Pakistan, you have the fundamentalist Sunnis versus everyone else: Shiites, Ahmadis and Sufis. You will notice that in each of these civil wars, barely a week goes by without one Muslim faction blowing up another faction’s mosque or gathering of innocents — like Tuesday’s bombing in Baghdad, at the opening of Ramadan, which killed 61 people.

In short: the key struggle with Islam is not inter-communal, and certainly not between Americans and Muslims. It is intra-communal and going on across the Muslim world.

It may come as a surprise to Friedman fans, but this sounds a lot like America. We have a "far right" (today’s nominal Republican Party) and a "far-far right" (the Tea Party), and they’ve arguing about which freedoms in the Bill of Rights to repeal, how much of the national government to dismantle, and whether the proper role for a woman is to marry an appropriate husband or work for unequal pay, although a woman getting rich pandering to the right on Fox or talk radio is fine as long as they say things like "don’t retreat; reload."

We have pure blatant corporatists and warmongers in the Republican party and thinly disguised corporatists and warmongers in the Democratic party, so naturally all they can agree on is to continue corporate looting/entitlements and wars. We have our own Taliban, led by right-wing Christianists, against everyone else. And we have plenty of dangerously armed militarists on the right threatening and being egged on to start violent insurrection and literally shoot or blow up secularists and non-zealots, aka liberals, progressives, supposed socialists and anyone else who believes in social justice.

But Friedman apparently doesn’t have a mirror or bifocals. Except for our appetite for their oil, he sees Middle East instability as mostly the Muslims’ fault:

Indeed, the big problem is not those Muslims building mosques in America, it is those Muslims blowing up mosques in the Middle East. And the answer to them is not an interfaith dialogue in America. It is an intrafaith dialogue — so sorely missing — in the Muslim world.

Yeah, if only there were no Muslim extremists, we wouldn’t have crazies in the Republican Party, let alone 50,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 plus in Afghanistan and even more thousands armed, unwelcome and unaccountable "security" contractors. So Friedman ends by hoping the Iraq’s leaders will rescue his/America’s suck-on-this surge policy:

Our surge in Iraq will never bear fruit without a political surge by Arabs and Muslims to heal intracommunal divides. It would be great if President Obama surprised everyone and gave another speech in Cairo — or Baghdad — saying that.

I think the world has had enough of American warmongers giving diplomacy lectures to leaders in countries we invaded for no good reason, Tom.

Perhaps what we need instead is to shun and replace cynical liars like Mitch McConnell (his MTP appearance today set an all time record for dishonest evasion) and inept cowards like Harry Reid. We might even have our President give a speech addressing the dangers to the nation posed by America’s far right, its far-far right, the American Christianist Taliban and increasingly armed and belligerent Second Amendment zealots. Now that would be a surprise.

John Chandley

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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