March 18, 2010

The wonderful world of Tom Friedman

Matt Taiibi, on his Taibblog, throws this challenge out today (the post in its entirety):

Underlying the latest U.S.-Israel spat over settlements is the deeper — real — problem: There are five key actors in the Israeli-Palestinian equation today. Two of them — the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the alliance of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah — have clear strategies. These two are actually opposed, but one of them will shape Israeli-Palestinian relations in the coming years; indeed, their showdown is nearing. I hope Fayyad wins. It would be good for Israel, America and the moderate Arabs. But those three need their own strategy to make it happen.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Let’s Fight Over a Big Plan –

I needed to take a Clonazepam by the second sentence of this opening graf of Friedman’s. God bless this guy. Can anyone else out there recall a more opaque opening paragraph?

I need something to get the wheels turning today anyway, so I'll take a shot at deconstructing Mr. Friedman's lede. Not that Matt Taiibi really needs any help; he's just using Friedman's awful writing as an excuse to make fun of poor Tom, who really is an atrocious writer. It's difficult to imagine, in fact, that anyone would assume Friedman ever has the faintest idea what he's writing about, given the tangled verbiage his "thoughts" always get hung up in.

Anyway, Friedman has divided the Israel-Palestine actors into three distinct groups. Group 1 is the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. The second group is the alliance of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. The third group is comprised of Israel, the USA and moderate Arabs. The confusion which has led to a pharmaceutical time-out for Matt Taiibi was caused by Friedman's use of the term "actors," which he quantifies as "five" in number. This is where things got a little dicey.

To arrive at "five actors," you have to treat Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah as one entity; however, Israel, America and the moderate Arabs, although they must develop a single, joint strategy and are thus presumed to be acting in a coordinated fashion, much as the Iranian, Hamas and Hezbollah actors are acting, are counted as three actors. Thus, to recap:

Actor 1: Prime Minister Fayyad of Palestine.

Actor 2: the group of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Actor 3: the United States.

Actor 4: Israel.

Actor 5: moderate Arabs.

Actor 1 has a clear strategy, as does Actor 2 (the Troika of I, H&H). These strategies are opposed, but one will win and "shape" the Middle East for years to come. Tom hopes that Fayyad wins. However, Actors 3, 4, & 5 need their own strategy to make "it" happen. I think the antecedent of "it" in this case is Fayyad's victory.

There you have it. Admittedly, it was a somewhat opaque introduction to the column. Friedman might have used the word "group" or "faction" and described three separate positions: Fayyad and the moderate Palestinians; I, H&H; and Israel, the USA and moderate Arabs, by which I think (but I can't be certain) that Friedman is referring to Arabs other than those who live in Palestine, such as Tom's friends in Saudi Arabia.

Other than that, I think Tom might have written this column in 1976, 1985, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2004 and yesterday, just to throw out a bunch of random dates. When he's out of topics, he flies to Israel, has lunch in Jerusalem and writes a Mideast column. This may account for the additional sloppiness of what he wrote: even Friedman recognizes the essential meaninglessness of his "prescriptions" for a "solution." Golda Meir found the solution in 1973, when she gave the go-code and loaded nuclear bombs onto Israeli bombers. Netanyahu fought in that war, and there is no way that Bibi is going to cede any land to Palestine, now or in the future. I guess he's in "Group 3" and is part of "Actor #4," and he's the one currently calling the shots, so I would say that "strategy" is set.

So, Tom: you already know what Strategies Nos. 1, 2 & 3 are. How does it turn out?

1 comment:

  1. hammerud3:42 PM

    As a Christian, I can say that what will transpire with Israel is what scripture states. This includes a peace agreement brokered by a world leader, a ruler of "the revived Roman Empire," likely the EU. When all seems peaceful, countries delineated in scripture (Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, probably Russia and others) attack Israel. These countries are decimated (by God) in the attack, opening the way for the aforementioned world leader to eventually enter the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem declaring himself to be God, which leads to the Great Tribulation and Second Coming. What is going on with Israel today fits within a context much broader than most people realize.