Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did Thomas Friedman say US was partly to blame for Bin Laden and 9/11?

All in all, Thomas Friedman's piece isn't bad, though he says nothing that no one else hasn't already said.  But I read something in there that about blew off my socks.  From the TF who with the 2003 invasion of Iraq declared to the Arab Middle East, "Suck on this!," he's come now to an astounding epiphany:
To understand that challenge, we need to recall, again, where Bin Ladenism came from. It emerged from a devil’s bargain between oil-consuming countries and Arab dictators. We all — Europe, America, India, China — treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations, and all of us sent the same basic message to the petro-dictators: Keep the oil flowing, the prices low and don’t bother Israel too much and you can treat your people however you like, out back, where we won’t look. Bin Laden and his followers were a product of all the pathologies that were allowed to grow in the dark out back — crippling deficits of freedom, women’s empowerment and education across the Arab world. [my emphasis]

Am I seeing things?  Is Thomas Friedman saying that the US's policies had something to do with the emergence of Osama bin Laden and the 9-11 attacks?

Amazing.  If he had written something like this in late 2001, 2002, he would have been excoriated.  And the academics who did make similar comments then found themselves black-listed by the execrable (but still functioning) Campus Watch, that sweet little contribution to free and open discussion offered up to us then by Daniel Pipes and his pals.

(By the way, was the aren't-I-clever headline for this essay his idea?  I have to wonder, because he never comes back to the Osama-as-Geronimo metaphor throughout the entire column.  And methinks TF may be a little more out of touch with the younger element of his reading public than he realizes.  I guarantee you that if I were to walk into one of my classes and ask my students who was Geronimo, the vast majority would be clueless.  So it goes . . . .)

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