NYT's Tom Friedman: America Goes It Alone, Shames Statue Of Liberty
On this Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, Bob Schieffer once again turned to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for analysis on developments in Iraq, the overall war on terrorism, and the Israel/Palestinian peace process.
Among the claims Friedman made were claiming that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was the "anti-Statue of Liberty." That America is alone in Iraq, discounting the contributions by the British and other coalition partners. And that he doesn’t "really want to blame America" for the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a workable peace agreement.
Friedman began by seemingly eulogizing Zarqawi. He focused on how effective Zarqawi was as a terrorist, but doesn’t offer praise to our troops or thanks that he has been removed from the equation in Iraq:
"Yeah, I mean, I think that al-Qaeda's saying, `Well, we'll replace him, no problem.' This guy was good, Bob. He was a first team all-star terrorist. He eluded the US military for three years and carried on some of the most wanton acts of violence not only in Iraq, but the whole Middle East. So he was good. Guys like him don't fall on, off trees."
And even if Friedman does believe Zarqawi being gone is good, he notes it may not have happened in time. That is, Zarqawi’s philosophy, may be prevailing:
"But here's the really big question, and this is what worries me this morning: Zarqawi is dead, but has Zarqawiism been so unleashed in Iraq that we've, that we can't get it back? Now, what was Zarqawiism? What was his whole strategy? His whole strategy was to use the most unspeakable violence to trigger a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. He was a Sunni and he tried to basically kill as many Shiites as he could. And now what we've got in Iraq while he's dead, the legacy of his strategy, boy, you just read the headlines this morning, is still alive and well."
Friedman seems to believe Iraq is already a lost cause. However, contrast this analysis with coverage earlier in the program from CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, who reported from Baghdad and conveyed a message containing glimmers of hope that Zarqawi’s death could bring Sunnis back into the fold and noted the progress of the training of Iraq’s security forces:
"Overall, people are happy, especially the Shia, against whom he (Zarqawi) had declared war. Cautiously happy, most of the moderate Sunnis as well. The key, of course, is how the hardline Sunnis are going to react, and whether the Sunni-led insurgency in Al Anbar Province and north of the city are going to react. Whether now with the loss of Zarqawi they're going to be free to, to abandon their allegiance to these foreign fighters, and maybe begin to respond to the outreach program being run by the Iraqi government, saying, `Come on, join us, there's more in, in, in it for you to join the reconciliation project, you'll be rewarded, you will get your share of power, than there is in staying on the outside as bandits pursued by not only the coalition forces, but also the, all the forces of the Iraqi state,' which are growing in sophistication and discipline and numbers weekly."
Friedman went on to proclaim the U.S. is alone in the endeavor in Iraq:
"...And we're so alone there. It's not like we're there with the Arab League, with the UN, with the Europeans. And so, that to me, is the question. I know what the struggle is ahead, but we're so alone right now."
At last glance, there were more than 20 other nations also participating in the mission in Iraq providing troops, supplies and other types of support such as medical assistance. We’re not alone Mr. Friedman, as much as you may want to portray it as such to the public, it is just not so.
Later, Friedman and Schieffer discussed the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, in particular the suicides that occurred over the weekend there:
"Guantanamo Bay, another headline that nobody wants to see in the papers this morning. Now we have prisoners committing suicide there, and people are saying this was some sort of a political act. This was not something that these people did out of desperation, but to, as a political act, like these suicide bombers. What, what are we going to do about Guantanamo?"
Friedman used the opportunity to liken Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq:
"Well, I believed we should've torn it down a long time ago, along with Abu Ghraib. And in Abu Ghraib's place, we should've built a hospital. Guantanamo Bay, Bob, has become the anti-Statue of Liberty."
The Statue of Liberty was seen as a symbol of hope for immigrants coming here legally who were trying to create a better life for themselves, and in the process make America a better place. Guantanamo Bay is a camp for illegal enemy combatants who have tried to do America harm. Is there an inscription on the Statue of Liberty that says "give me your terrorist extremists dedicated to destroying America?" If so, referring to Guantanamo Bay as the "anti-Statue of Liberty" may be apt. Otherwise, it seems somewhat foolhardy.
Finally, Friedman seemed to admit that he is generally a member of the blame America first crowd. In discussing the mid-east peace process and the road blocks that have been erected, Friedman cut the United States a break:
"You know, it's--I don't really want to blame the United States on this one."
What does this mean? Does he blame the United States anyway, even though he doesn’t want to? And if he doesn’t blame the US for "this" then what is he blaming America for?