Sunday, March 27, 2011

Grow your own Mandelas for fun and profit


It might be amusing to tear apart the Steaming Bucket O’ Stupid that is Thomas Friedman’s Sunday column, “Hoping For Arab Mandelas,” sentence by malodorous sentence, but it would be as ultimately futile as attempting to diagram a Sarah Palin sentence.

We learn, for example, that democracy “requires what Michael Mandelbaum, author of ‘Democracy’s Good Name,’ calls ‘liberty.’” Thank you, Michael Mandelbaum (also evidently author of “The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Basketball and Football and What They See When They Do”) for inventing the concept of liberty.

Evidently to understand how the Arab countries currently in turmoil might become democratic, we have to look at the one success story in the region... wait for it... Iraq.

From Iraq, Thomas Friedman learns that authoritarian Arab regimes are keeping sectarian tensions in check, so watch out for those, potentially democratic Arab nations! But people also have an “equally powerful yearning to live together as citizens,” so it’ll all be okay, just like in Iraq, where there wasn’t a civil war, no matter what you think you remember. “[I]t never happened,” Tom Friedman says. And the guy who won the most seats in the last election, Ayad Allawi, “ran on a multisectarian platform with Sunnis.” Wonder whatever happened to him?

Are you ready for the prototypical Thomas Friedman sentence from this column? “While these tribal identities are deeply embedded and can blow up at anytime, there are also powerful countertrends in today’s more urbanized, connected, Facebooked Middle East.”

What kept Iraq from exploding in a civil war, which NEVER HAPPENED? “[T]hey had a credible neutral arbiter throughout this transition: the U.S.” Thank God for that. We must really go out and invade every other Arab nation, so that we can act as a credible neutral arbiter in their transition to democracy. Oh wait, we are.

The army is Egypt’s neutral arbiter, Friedman says, so I guess we don’t have to invade them. “Who will play that role in Libya? In Syria? In Yemen?” Who indeed. At least he doesn’t suggest Israel.

See the problem is that some day these countries have to grow up and stand on their own. “They need to grow their own arbiters — their own Arab Nelson Mandelas.” Just plant a seed in a dank dungeon, grow for 27 years, and voila!

(Actually, the next sentence quotes “Invictus,” so he didn’t mean the real Nelson Mandela, he meant Morgan Freeman. Can Morgan Freeman do an Arab accent? Because then we’d be set.)

You have to read this thing for yourself, it is the Tom Friedmanist Tom Friedman column ever.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to read Maureen Dowd about “the Mormon moment” now.

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