It's not that Friedman is brain damaged. There's no IED on his resume. No years spent as a linebacker in the NFL. He is not brain damaged.
Yet here's what he wrote under the title "5 Principles for Iraq" in the Sunday Review at NY Times a few months ago.
Let me summarize at a 5th Grade level:
1. Iraq and Syria were disintegrating. Among all the Arab tribes and other people who live there, only the Kurds are interested in broadly based political systems and national economies. "Other than the Kurds, we have no friends in the fight."
2. “No victor, no vanquished” is the only motto that can produce stability anywhere in the Middle East. It has to start there. "Fighting over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century" gets top billing for local motivation.
3. Iran's General Suleimani is addressed personally with this claim: "'This Bud’s for you.' Now your forces are overextended in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and ours are back home." It's a mistake to have these troops in battle. (ISIS taking Mosul in Iraq a week earlier is not addressed.)
4. Najimaldin Omar Karim, a Kurdish neurosurgeon by training, formerly practicing in America, is the model for leadership.
5. "Finally, while none of the main actors in Iraq, other than Kurds, are fighting for our values, is anyone there even fighting for our interests: a minimally stable Iraq that doesn’t threaten us? And whom we can realistically help? The answers still aren’t clear to me, and, until they are, I’d be very wary about intervening."
This piece has to be the worst of it, ever, from Friedman.
ISIS sent a horde of some 20,000 psychopaths down into Iraq and started a campaign of mass murder, rape, vandalism, and torture. So what we get here is Friedman writing for his audience, the American business community, telling them that the proper attitude is to be "wary about intervening."
And of course no mention that ISIS had been created by the Saudi intelligence service, formerly/at the start headed by Bandar bin Sultan. No mention of the flow of the Syrian war, of the roles of the various Saudi backed militias.
No mention that J. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul, was the dictator who kicked the Iraqi Sunnis out of their jobs after the invasion. Banned them from employment in any national organization based on tribal identity.
No mention of the Saudi financed bombing campaign (2002 to present) that targeted Shi'ia civilians by the thousands.
No mention that Iran's Quds/Jerusalem Force had a couple battalions (6,000 men) fighting the al-Qaeda offshoots in Syria. That Lebanon's Hizb Allah had something on four times that number of soldiers in the same fight. ISIS and al-Nusrah are the enemies.
Basic facts ??? Missing more than present. At odds with whatever Friedman was selling.
Local Sunni tribes had never, ever in the modern era carried out bombings on Shi'ia civilians. Or carried out other such mass murders. Baathist regimes were not essentially sectarian -- Saddam was Sunni, the Assads are Shi'ia and both applied Baathism's form of nationalism to advance their country's development.
Attrocities under Saddam went out under equal opportunity. The Marsh Arabs are Shi'ia and they got hammered on a par with slaughters of Kurds, who are a mix of Shi'ia and Sunni. Saddam killed hundreds when an assassination hit his regime -- location was the trigger.
In Syria the whole of the economy went up together. Between 1990 and 2010 the per capita annual income went up from $1,800 to $5,200. That's about what you got with China. And the new lamb feed lots went in by the dozens, raising the protein content of the national diet. Shi'ia and Sunni and Kurd areas went up more or less together with urban areas in the lead.
Baathism approximates the "no victor, no vanquished" theme. Not that Friedman or his audience know jack about Baathism, which is secular in its practical governance.
Dr. Karim is a fine man. But why on earth would NY Times or any other news organization present him as the leader for carrying out a war with ISIS and the ISIS Salafi recruits ??? He's a manager, not a military guy.
Offering an alcoholic beverage to Qassim Suleimani -- albeit hyperbolically -- has to be the bottom for Friedman's jests. Quds Force and their allies in AAH, Badr, Hizb Allah, Peshmerga, the Sunni tribes, and regular ISf have been giviing up lives steadily to defeat the Sunni Salafi mad men, including ISIS.
Old men from the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War are over in Iraq training recruits for the big push surrounding and retaking Mosul later this winter, or early in the spring. And whether Friedman understands it or not, this is a Coalition of willing participants. They are there because they want to be there. Risk of death included.
This isn't a bullshit operation like "The Surge." Pushing AQI/ISIS around does nothing. Their aim as with al-Qusayr, Tikrit, Amerli, Jurf al-Sakhar is to kill ISIS to the man. So far, so good.
Kinda the opposite to Friedman's "wary of intervening." At end of year 2014 this is a war where the anti-ISIS Coalition is killing the xxxx out of them, a couple thousand a month, and winning every major battle. Still, that's not what hits the pages at corporate media. Not the corporate line. Not in the interests of Perpetual War and its profiteers.