Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 24-Apr-07
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq

Web Log - April, 2007

NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq

In an interview that appeared on CNN on Sunday, renowned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke with anchor Wolf Blitzer about the Iraq war.

He's supposed to be one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about what's going on in the Mideast, but the interview showed why I have so little respect for him and other journalists.

By way of introduction, Wolf Blitzer quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who, last week, said:

"I believe myself that the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the President knows — that this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq."

As I've said many times, it's an absolute disgrace that many journalists and congressmen have committed their careers and credibility to America's defeat and humiliation in Iraq. These people are openly aiding and abetting the enemy, in a manner that some might consider to be treasonous.

But it's worth pointing out why there is "extreme violence in Iraq," as I discussed at length in my recent analysis. The violence is being caused by suicide car and truck bombers and, as I showed with numerous quotes from Arab and American sources, the suicide bombers are NOT Iraqis, with almost no excepts. Suicide bombers are being imported from militant al-Qaeda sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. The reason for the violence is that an outside army of terrorists -- known as "al-Qaeda in Iraq" -- is setting off one of these violent bombs every day because they know that morons like mainstream media reports and Harry Reid will cave in to al-Qaeda's wishes. It's sickening.

There was some humor in the situation, at least. Reid's statement turns out to be a major gaffe since -- guess what? -- the American people don't want to just give up and go down in defeat. Reid was forced to back off and make some mealy-mouthed statement about changing course, and other Democrats ran from Reid to the hills. Maybe there's hope for Congress yet.

Thomas Friedman interviewed by Wolf Blitzer <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Thomas Friedman interviewed by Wolf Blitzer (Source: CNN)

So anyway, here are some excerpts of what Thomas Friedman said, according to the CNN transcript:

"Well, to me, Wolf, there's one metric to measure the surge by, and that is whether it's producing a political solution that will allow us to remove our troops. ...

Right now, I don't see that negotiation happening, let alone a conclusion that you say "Wow, the parties are really coming together. They are taking advantage of this, you know, little breathing spell to come together for a solution." And that's really what I'm waiting for.

To me, the metric of the surge is not whether the violence is down 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent. It is, are the parties coming together? ...

I mean you've got Shiites, Sunnis, the Kurds, whether they have the will to really come together. You know, when I first heard the surge idea, Wolf, my reaction was -- you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of a couple. They get married. The marriage doesn't quite take and they say "You know what? Let's have a baby." You know, somehow that if you put more pressure on this, somehow that will come together. ...

And I feel that about the surge, that unless the underlying thing is there, the willingness of the three parties to cut a deal to share power, revenue and space together, there is no possible solution. ...

I mean, I certainly think that we're on our very, very, very, very last legs. You know, we certainly haven't won, that's for sure. And I see no sign right now that we're winning because the question I'm looking for is, is that political deal coming together? And I don't see it."

You can see that he's gone on at length without mentioning al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Does Thomas Friedman believe that al-Qaeda in Iraq is irrelevant? Does he believe that al-Qaeda in Iraq can't be defeated? Why doesn't he mention this major foreign force?

I certainly don't know whether "al-Qaeda in Iraq" could be driven out of Iraq, but I'm almost certain of this: If it could be, then we'd win the Iraq war. It's al-Qaeda in Iraq that's the root cause of the problem.

The reason that I have so little respect for the Thomas Friedman's of the world is that he never even mentions al-Qaeda. I'll come back to this.

Here's how he responds when Blitzer asks him what would happen if we just pull out:

"But now let's put that aside. OK, what happens if we do leave? No one really knows, Wolf. One can make an argument that all, you know, heck is going to break loose in that part of the world. That's certainly one scenario.

Another scenario says there will be a period of fighting. The parties will eventually reach an equilibrium, and we may even have a better chance for a deal. I'm not here to tell you I know which it will be. All I'm telling you is, the president doesn't know either."

Now, I'll give this to Friedman -- at least he hasn't bought into the nonsense civil war scenario. You don't hear much about a civil war in Iraq any more. The morons who were so sure a few months ago that it was a civil war have now seen that it hasn't gone that way. You'd think that this would make some of these people apologize for their stupid remarks in the past, but no such luck.

Friedman acknowledges the possibility, not only is there no civil war, but that there are scenarios where the Iraqi people would reach a political solution on their own. I doubt that Friedman knows anything about generational theory, because that's exactly the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that Iraq is in a generational Awakening era.

So I would actually agree with Friedman, except for one thing: al-Qaeda in Iraq. If we pulled out, they'd just pour more forces in.

But Friedman is very carefully not mentioning al-Qaeda, so finally Blitzer asked him about it specifically.

Blitzer played a clip of George Bush talking about Iran and al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Blitzer asked, "Maybe al Qaeda wasn't a major player in Iraq before the war, but the argument is, it is right now."

Here's Friedman's reply:

"Well, there's no question al-Qaeda is there. They're having an impact. The question though, Wolf, is to what degree are we part of the problem, and to what degree are we part of -- our leaving would be part of the solution?

Our presence there clearly attracts certain forces to Iraq. There's no question about it. Now, are we 30 percent of that? Are we 70 percent?

In other words, if we leave, to what extent does the violence go down? To what extent do we create a context where Iraqi Sunnis would want to take these people on? I just don't know, but neither does the president.

So he's casting this all in one way, as if it's about winning. There is no more winning to be done there, OK? All that's left is to protect American interests and to be able to get out in a way that leaves some chance, some chance, Wolf, that we'll get some equilibrium in place there that won't destabilize the whole region. I think that's all that's left."

This is about dumbest response imaginable.

Al-Qaeda is active in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Egypt (through the Muslim Brotherhood), Somalia, and others. And it was just two weeks ago that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group formerly named GSPC (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), shocked Algiers and Casablanca with multiple coordinated bombings.

GSPC, which is centered in the former French colony of Algeria, has all but declared war on France. According to an analysis by Debka, GPSC and al-Qaeda are determined to do anything they can to derail the campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy. According to the analysis,

"The al Qaeda jihadists view Sarkozy as a dangerous enemy of radical Islamic organizations in France, who must be prevented from attaining presidential office, exactly like Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar. His foreign policy is likely to friendlier to the United States than that of Royal.

Sarkozy is viewed as foe by millions of Muslims living in France from his tough record as interior minister. Royal in contrast wooed the Muslim vote with promises of advantages. A terrorist attack that brings the Socialist contender to power will give al Qaeda a huge prestige boost with French Muslims."

The reference to Spain's José María Aznar is about the Madrid subway bombings, masterminded by al-Qaeda, that occurred on March 11, 2004. Those bombings are considered responsible for Aznar's loss in the 2004 election. The Debka report says that al-Qaeda is hoping to repeat that "success" in Paris in the next two weeks.

And speaking of subway bombings, let's not forget about al-Qaeda's other "successes" -- the 9/11 attacks in America, and the 7/7/2005 bombing of the London subways.

Al-Qaeda has been expanding and gaining strength for at least two decades, and it continues to do so. Why on earth does Thomas Friedman imagine that al-Qaeda will withdraw from Iraq if America does? What planet is he on?

So, I'm in a familiar situation, as I try to decide: Is Friedman stupid or a liar? I can't be sure, but I don't think he's lying; that leaves "stupid." And as we've pointed out many times, most Washington journalists and politicians don't even know that al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization, and if you don't know that, then you don't know anything.

Here's one more interesting extract from the interview. Blitzer asked him which politician he thought was the most intelligent about the Iraq issues. His answer: "I think Joe Biden's been on top of this from the very beginning. ... So if there's anyone I felt in sync with from the very beginning, I would say it's Joe Biden."

Now, Biden has this truly moronic proposal of splitting Iraq up into three countries -- one for Sunnis, one for Shi'ites, and one for Kurds. It's so ridiculous that I've never even bothered to write about it. In the first place, there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that the Iraqi government would ever agree to it. Second, there would be no way to split of Baghdad. Third, if the Kurds ever got their own nation, then a large Turkish army would come over the border pouring into Kirkuk.

So this is the guy that Friedman identifies with. Why am I not surprised?

I've previously pointed out this web page on that shows that Friedman has made one error after another. He's made one incorrect prediction after another. Unfortunately, he never seems to learn anything, and neither do the people who keep inviting him back for interviews.

Here's what I wrote on August 19, 2003, just after al-Qaeda had bombed U.N. headquarters in Iraq:

"That's not to say there aren't dangers, and here we'll point out two major ones:

First, the terrorist attacks may continue and get worse. Terrorism is more a political technique rather than a military technique. Al Qaeda may succeed in increasing the level of terrorist attacks in order to influence American public opinion.

And second, the terrorist acts may presage a larger regional war involving the Palestinian Arabs and the al Qaeda against Americans in Iraq. Iraq is in an awakening period, but the Palestine region is just about to enter a crisis period. Some analysts claim that the terrorist acts are being perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs and "Mujahadeen" being paid thousands of dollars each, funded by Saddam and Osama bin Laden, arriving from Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The really dangerous scenario is that large numbers of Palestinian and "mujahadeen" terrorists will be motivated by identity group relationships to move into Iraq as a theatre of war against the Americans. That isn't happening now, but it's one of several possible scenarios that may unfold in the Mideast region during the next few months and years."

This is what I wrote in 2003, and it's exactly what happened. Unlike Thomas Friedman, I have not gotten any predictions wrong when it was based on the Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology.

Now, as I said, I do not know whether "al-Qaeda in Iraq" can be driven out of Iraq by the surge, but my expectation is that American forces will remain in Iraq until the Clash of Civilizations world war begins. After that, they'll be withdrawn because they'll be needed elsewhere. (24-Apr-07) Permanent Link
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