This is a typical piece of Friedmanian shit. (Though at least he’s not wetting himself over what Republicans think like the usually wonderful Franck Rich.)
Shorter version: Somehow we need to figure out how to make Muslims stop believing they are the victims of the West.
Maybe we should stop doing things confirming that belief.
Seriously, this is very difficult to stomach as something occupying space in the New York Times. The idea that America or Western countries should intervene in he Middle East to cause a region-wide political revolution is basically the cause behind our continued mistakes in the region and is exactly the philosophy of Neo-Conservatism that led us to war in Iraq.
Imagine that the EU decided that the right-wing political culture in the United States was troubling to their interests. (It is.) What if they decided that it was in their interests to foment a political revolution in the US that would empower a government with more conciliatory views toward Europe. Well, at first they would try to prey on the corruption of our governments and buy politicians and make deals with the indigenous rich. In other words, they would be able to preserve their interests with raw power, but such an exercise would bring the blow back to a boiling point. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin would probably call for a nationwide ban on French Fries.
Pretty soon, Americans would get tired of foreigners owning their politicians and of their rich neighbors betraying them for foreign countries. There might even be violent uprisings. Shootings here and there. Hate crimes. Someone might even blow up a federal building in Oklahoma—terrorism! Then, at the ballot box, a giant earthquake would put the neo-isolationists into power, and it would require a military invasion to enact regime change by force from without.
Now, the occupied US—what exactly has been our historic reaction to foreign occupation? even of a foreign power with a virtually identical culture, let alone one that speaks FRENCH?
What would the “Minute Men” and “Tea Party” movement people do? Would they—out of a sense of decency—be totally weak on national security and not advocate and or execute bombings against the occupiers?
Then, Sarah Palin leads us on a “Christian revolution” that expels the Europeans and the Japanese dare call it a “liberation event” (the way Friedman complains of the European reaction to the revolution in Iran). Obviously, a theocratic idiocracy taking over America would be a disaster, but expelling a foreign power would in fact be a liberation and it would probably be popular here for a while. Isn’t that what happened in the Soviet Union, in almost all of post-colonial Africa, especially Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Congo, and Ethiopia? in Bosnia, Kosovo, or so many other places that it should be expected. Indeed, just about all of the worst parts of the world are post-Euro-colonial.
Now you can see that the problem in the Middle East is more complicated than simply talking the people out of it with a slick ad campaign because we are actually perhaps the root cause of the problem, and, as idiotic as some of the popular beliefs in the Middle East are (though we do a great job of ludicrous popular beliefs here), the underlying truth they believe is correct: America is their problem.
This doesn’t make the “terrorists” the good guys—not at all. It doesn’t make us the bad guys. It doesn’t mean that there is a desperate need for reform in the Middle East—there is. And I’m certainly not suggesting that we not use our military to protect our interests there or anywhere else.
I’m just suggesting that the notion that the kind of reform we want will come from us is absurd on its face, and, worse for Friedman, absurd on the basis of recent well known history, not just the scores of ones obscured from most people’s memory.