'Today' Hypes Tom Friedman's Peace Through Green Strategy

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was at it again, pushing his peace in the Middle East through environmentalism strategy. Invited on this morning's Today show to promote his upcoming Discovery Channel documentary called Green: The New Red, White and Blue, Friedman claimed one of the best ways to promote democracy in Iraq was to bring down the price of oil through energy saving green technology. Friedman also repeated his clarion call to retake the meaning of the word green from conservatives when NBC's Matt Lauer tossed the following softball to him:

Lauer: "Yeah and you say it's time to stop thinking about the green movement as tree-huggers and sissies. This is tough domestic and foreign policy."

Friedman: "Well what I've been out to try to do in my column and this magazine piece and now this documentary on Discovery is to redefine green because green was really defined for many years, in my view, by its opponents and they defined it 'liberal,' 'tree-hugging,' 'sissy,' 'girly-man,' 'unpatriotic,' 'vaguely French.' Okay? And what I'm really, been trying to do is re-define it, rename it patriotic, capitalistic, geo-strategic, really the most important thing we can do and be as a country today."

The following are a couple of the greenie-sounding teases and then the full segment as it occurred on the April 16th Today show:

[8:31am]

Matt Lauer: "Also ahead we're gonna take a look at a new documentary that argues that one of the best ways you can support the red, white and blue is by going green. We're gonna talk to award-winning columnist Tom Friedman from the New York Times about that documentary."

...

[8:43am]

Meredith Vieira: "Up next save energy, save the world."

...

[8:45am]

Matt Lauer: "You know you hear a lot about the greening of America these days from Al Gore's Oscar win to hybrid cars. Now even big business is getting on board. Companies like Wal-Mart and Google and you can too. It's not just trendy it's patriotic. It's the message behind a new documentary called Green: The New Red, White and Blue reported by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Tom good morning, good to see you."

[On screen headline: "Going Green, Friedman On USA In The World."]

Thomas Friedman, New York Times: "Great to be with you Matt, thanks."

Lauer: "I want to talk about this green idea in a second and, and kind of tie it in to this other subject I want to talk to you about and that's Iraq. It's been a tough week there. Four bombs over the weekend killing about 45 people. We had the suicide bomber last week blowing himself up in a cafeteria near parliament and yet we're hearing the surge is working. What's your take on this?"

Friedman: "To me Matt there's only one metric for the surge working and that is whether we're seeing a negotiation among Iraqis to share power, to stabilize the political situation in Iraq which only they can do. And right now I don't see that. Maybe it's happening in private, maybe it's happening, you know, in places I can't hear or touch. But right now I don't see that. So telling me that the violence is down 10 percent or eight percent here or 12 percent there, I don't really think that's the metric at all."

Lauer: "Kind, kind of a wakeup call over the weekend also, Tom, or actually at the end of last week, Senator John McCain running for president, supporting the war, supporting the surge said, 'By the way if this does not work I don't know of a plan B.' And I'm trying to think of a time in American foreign policy where we didn't have a Plan B. How, what's your take on that?"

Friedman: "You know there's a, there is, there's a lot of truth to that Matt in the sense that there, if this doesn't work there is no really good option because the only option then is to either pull out or pull back from Iraq and basically let the parties fight it out and hopefully you reach some kind of equilibrium that way that will be self-sustaining but-"

Lauer: "In fact you think that actually a threat to pull out might get the parties to move forward on the, on the political compromise and solution that we're looking for."

Friedman: "Exactly, you know my point Matt has been that right now what's worrying me and what's been worrying me for awhile is that our vision of Iraq, a pluralistic united Iraq is everybody's second choice. It's the Shiites would prefer an Iraq they dominate, pro-Iranian. The Sunnis, the return to the old regime, the Kurds, their own separate Iraq. And we can't have our first choice kids dying for their second choice. That's just not on. At some point we've got to set a deadline and tell everyone if that is your preference-"

Lauer: "Right."

Friedman: "-you're gonna have to pay retail for that position not wholesale any more."

Lauer: "This, this other subject the greening of America and, and the corporate involvement. You say these two, you cannot separate these two things. That, that important in trying to democratize the Middle East is a different energy outlook here in the United States."

Friedman: "Well my feeling has always been, you know, people don't change Matt when you tell them they should. They change when they tell themselves they must. And I believe you really only get mass democratizing change in that part of the world when they can no longer rely on, on oil when they actually have to open their economies, educate their young people and really globalize with the world and that's why bringing down the price of oil I think is one of the best ways to do that."

Lauer: "In your documentary you visit some big companies that are taking big steps, Google, Wal-Mart, what lessons can we all learn from what they're trying to accomplish?"

Friedman: "Well I think that the message I'm trying to convey is that the biggest challenge for our kids Matt are three things: jobs, temperature and terrorism. And what's exciting about what companies are doing now is that they're understanding that green really is profitable. That it's actually a way to save money and beat the competition. When you think about it, Matt, it's really simple. To make a car, an appliance or a home greener you have to make it smarter. Well to make it smarter that's what we specialize in. Knowledge, high technology, not cheap labor. So this is also a way to build good jobs that can't be outsourced."

Lauer: "Yeah and you say it's time to stop thinking about the green movement as tree-huggers and sissies. This is tough domestic and foreign policy."

Friedman: "Well what I've been out to try to do in my column and this magazine piece and now this documentary on Discovery is to redefine green because green was really defined for many years, in my view, by its opponents and they defined it 'liberal,' 'tree-hugging,' 'sissy,' 'girly-man,' 'unpatriotic,' 'vaguely French.' Okay? And what I'm really, been trying to do is re-define it, rename it patriotic, capitalistic, geo-strategic, really the most important thing we can do and be as a country today."

Lauer: "And the documentary is called Green: The New Red, White and Blue. It airs Saturday at 9pm Eastern and Pacific on the Discovery Channel. Tom Friedman, always good to see ya."

Friedman: "Thanks Matt."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.