September 17, 2003

Tectonic Shift

The world has truly turned upside down.

Thomas Friedman, liberal Democrat at the New York Times, calls France an enemy, yes an enemy of the United States.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2003 11:17 PM

Holy Cow, err Frog!

Posted by: Derek at September 17, 2003 11:38 PM

I'm as ticked off at the French as anybody else, but I wouldn't go so far as to call them an enemy (yet). It is clear, however, that while we are their ally, they are not ours. This has been apparent since Kosovo, but, until 9/11, it was in everyone's interest to keep up the charade. Now that we're at war, I think it makes more sense to openly acknowledge what everyone already knows.

Say, didn't Friedman also write, earlier this year at Davos, that 'whatever Villepin is for, I am against.'? Despite his irritatingly pathological glibness, Friedman remains one of my favourite columnists.

Posted by: George at September 18, 2003 06:01 AM

I read that OpEd piece this morning. Many have made the same points but this was succint, and from the NYT!!!

Friedman points out that France is not considering how a defeat of the US would not be in France's interests.

It seems to me that the only way that France can truly be a major international influence is as the focal point of opposition to the US.

Once that war is won, what influence would they have. With 1% of the worlds population, nominal abilty to project military force beyond its borders, a less than dynamic economy with strong protectionist leanings, and their obvious selfishness and arrogance. who would follow them after the US pulls back.

Posted by: tallan at September 18, 2003 06:08 AM

George: Friedman wrote that DeVillepin was his moral compass in internations matters.

I wonder what others around the world think of France?

Posted by: tallan at September 18, 2003 06:10 AM

I've already begun making dinner plans for our upcoming war with France.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 18, 2003 09:10 AM

I switched to Austrailian and Spanish wines a while ago, depriving the French of couple hundred dollars of my money per year. Seems like lots of other Americans have come to Freidman's conclusion as well. There are plenty of other nice travel destinations in the world that I will be considering before going to France again. And to think only a few years ago, I actually had plans to buy a vacation home in Provence!

(I'll go by d-rod from now on here, formerly Dave)

Posted by: d-rod at September 18, 2003 09:27 AM

I wonder what others around the world think of France?

I saw an interesting poll recently on the European continent, and France is much less popular there than the United States. And the poll included people from France, which skewed it in France's favor, and France still lost the popularity contest to us.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 18, 2003 09:34 AM

The self important Geraldo-a-like (minus the hot chick wifes and big Cuaf) "pundit" has those cracks of reality necessary to make his blowhard nonsense more palatable and believable. A solid article on the by however I of course noted this 1 paragraph - (Friedman couldn't resist his stronger impulses completely)

Yes, the Bush team's arrogance has sharpened French hostility. Had President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld not been so full of themselves right after America's military victory in Iraq — and instead used that moment, when the French were feeling that maybe they should have taken part, to magnanimously reach out to Paris to join in reconstruction — it might have softened French attitudes. But even that I have doubts about.

And magnanimous move the Bush team may have made would have seemed a weakness, but perhpas they could have made an impassioned speech reaching out the France to try and corner them. So he may have a point. Playing world politcking and in the process cornering them with bitter honey so to speak.

However, I doubt we even know the half of the French perfidity leading up to Iraq. I don't think Powell gets that steamed at France without some serious perfidity going on and I doubt that we've even read a microcosm of what they were doing behind closed doors.

I note that paragraph because Friedman can't make a point about France without somewhat blaming the Bush Team, though even he is so sickened by them that he admits that he doesn't know if any diplomacy would have made any differnce.


Posted by: Mike at September 18, 2003 04:31 PM

One interesting thing was to compare the Friendman and Dowd columns in the same paper. Friedman can be frustrating and he certainly repeats himself (who wouldn't after so many years?) but at least he tries to strike new ground. The problem with Dowd is she never tries anything new. You have the feeling that she doesn't like anybody, has no real empathy, so her columns become unreadable no matter what he writing talent.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at September 18, 2003 05:52 PM

Regarding Mr. Friedman, all I can say is "welcome to the party, pal. It's about frickin' time."

The idea that France was an enemy, working against the United States was obvious even before the war began. Tom's late to the party, but he at least sees just how irrational the French position is. If the US is defeated in Iraq, the French domestic situation will become much worse. The pride and vanity of the French leaders will lead that country to ruin, which is a damn shame.

Posted by: Tim at September 18, 2003 06:42 PM


I saw an interesting poll recently on the European continent, and France is much less popular there than the United States.

Can you provide a link to that poll? I'd love to see it. I have a friend from Cameroon who is a Francophone and a Francophile. Needless to say, we have endless arguments. He loves to harp about how Bush's policies are affecting European opinions towards America. I'd love to show him how Chirac's policies are affecting European opinions toward's France.

Posted by: HA at September 19, 2003 03:05 AM

He loves to harp about how Bush's policies are affecting European opinions towards America. I'd love to show him how Chirac's policies are affecting European opinions toward's France.

HA - there's also the much more obvious point about how Chirac's policies are affecting American opinions about France. The difference is, I think, that the European opinions were already there, and still lie mostly in the abstract. The American shift is much more recent, and much more visceral - I speak only for myself, but I think that the French/European behavior is literally putting my life in greater danger.

I think this is the point Friedman is trying to make - the French view Americans as a threat to their worldview. The Americans are starting to view the French as a threat to our safety.

Posted by: George at September 19, 2003 06:12 AM


I wish I had a link. Sorry, it was from about six months ago, during the runup to the Iraq war. I've read too many things since then to remember where I found it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 19, 2003 11:03 AM


I speak only for myself

You speak for me as well.

Posted by: HA at September 19, 2003 06:00 PM

We can begin the “shock and awe” campaign by renaming fries to Friedman fries.

Posted by: d-rod at September 21, 2003 08:30 AM

As someone who has disagreed strenuously with Kimmitt in the past, and looks forward to continuing to do so in the future, I wanted to give him a tip of the hat. Kimmitt at least reads what other people say, agrees or disagrees with them, and asserts his own arguments and counterarguments. Given the level of vitriol and ad hominem arguments seen in the blogosphere and elsewhere these days, this is a welcome exception.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 22, 2003 06:55 AM

Oops. Meant to post above comment to the "Left_Wingers Against Dean" post above.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 22, 2003 06:58 AM

With all due respect to Roger L. Simon, if you find yourself mentioning Tom Friedman in the same breath with Maureen Dowd, Tom has a much larger problem than being frustrating and a bit repetitive.

My first reaction to his column on France was "Well, duh.". My second was "Why did it take you this long to figure out something this obvious?".

The horrible truth is, I would suggest, that Tom Friedman is essentially a lightweight. Yes, he does write well, and he seems both well-meaning and amiable, but for someone who is supposed to be an 'expert' on all things Middle Eastern, he seems to continually veer between being muddled and just plain silly.

An example: This weekend he was on Russert and stated that the Bush Administration's biggest mistake in Iraq so far was disbanding the Iraqi army, rather than using it for nucleus of a new Iraq police force. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but evidently Russert was too busy filing the point off the top of his head to call him on it.

It not exactly a secret that the Iraqi army essentially deserted and went home, which is exactly what the Coalition told them to do. Did Tom miss this? Did he miss the fact that there weren't a hundred or so P.O.W. camps set up all over set up over Iraq to house hundreds of thousands of Iraqi prisoners? Did he miss the fact that the only Iraqi formations that stayed intact were the Republican Guard units that actually did put up resistance? So when and where did this 'disbanding' of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers actually take place? And why did every major news source in the world other than Tom Friedman miss it?

Bottom line, if the Iraq war and reconstruction is exposing those journalists who are putting personal bias ahead of professional journalism, it is also exposing a certain number of journalists who simply do not have the horsepower to play pundit in a post-9/11 world. Unfortunately, Tom Friedman appears to be one of the latter (as well as a bit of the former, as Mike notes above).

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 23, 2003 03:00 PM


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