Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Thomas Friedman, trusting dead men (David G)

From David G:

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Thomas Friedman was quoted:

"...Every one of the Arab leaders is a dead man walking. It’s about dignity.”

Friedman's belief is that eventually technology will bring about the downfall of all current Arab despots (even, apparently, the benevolent ones.) 

Nearly ten years ago Friedman had  a different view of Arab leaders.

One Friedman's most famous columns, An Intriguing signal from a Saudi Prince began:

Earlier this month, I wrote a column suggesting that the 22 members of the Arab League, at their summit in Beirut on March 27 and 28, make a simple, clear-cut proposal to Israel to break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse: In return for a total withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967, lines, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the 22 members of the Arab League would offer Israel full diplomatic relations, normalized trade and security guarantees. Full withdrawal, in accord with U.N. Resolution 242, for full peace between Israel and the entire Arab world. Why not?
This is interesting on a number of levels:
a) These leaders, most of whom are still in power, are now dismissed by Friedman as yesterday's news, are precisely the ones he was telling Israel to trust and make peace with.

b) In a recent column Friedman wrote:

For the last 30 years, Israel enjoyed peace with Egypt wholesale — by having peace with just one man, Hosni Mubarak. That sale is over. Today, post-Mubarak, to sustain the peace treaty with Egypt in any kind of stable manner, Israel is going to have to pay retail. It is going to have to make peace with 85 million Egyptians. 
That same "logic" would have applied with every single other Arab regime; if the people of the newly free regimes opposed peace with Israel, Israel would have to adjust its expectations.

c) Though right now Friedman poses as a supporter of freedom and democracy, in 2002 he didn't care how Arab regimes treated their citizens. If they made (an insincere) offer of peace to Israel, he would let them off easy.