Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thomas Friedman's Simple Boxes

There he goes again.  Thomas Friedman reconstructs global politics (for the umpteenth time) with simple boxes.  (OK OK, so he calls them categories.)  This time it's
The first category . . . countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, whose leaders are focused on building their authority, dignity and influence through powerful states.
The second category, countries focused on building their dignity and influence through prosperous people, includes all the countries in Nafta, the European Union, and the Mercosur trade bloc in Latin America and Asean in Asia.
And of course, he must have an all-the-others third box, lumped as "disorder":
a third and growing category of countries, which can’t project power or build prosperity. They constitute the world of “disorder.” . . . They are actually power and prosperity sinks because they are consumed in internal fights over primal questions like: Who are we? What are our boundaries? Who owns which olive tree? These countries include Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Congo and other hot spots.
All of this, of course, as an entree for TF to briefly touch upon Ukraine's turmoil, and then conclude by noting that
we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them.
Indeed.  Well said.  Agreed.

But not a word from TF, of course, about how his cheerleading (remember "suck on this?") in 2002 and 2003 helped rip Iraq from box 1 to dump it into box 3.

1 comment:

PasserBy said...

I think TF's categories are accurate as generalizations.

There's no doubt that once the US invaded Iraq and decimated the country that they could be placed in the category of "disorder." I think the US's ignorance of the Iraqi people, tradition and culture had much more influence in creating disorder than TF's "cheerleading."


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