Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Has Thomas Friedman Learned His Lesson?

Or at least, a lesson? That was then (if you're impatient, skip ahead to 2:24):

This is now:
Today, Obama’s critics say he must do “something” about Syria. I get it. Chaos there can come around to bite us. If there is a policy that would fix Syria, or even just stop the killing there, in a way that was self-sustaining, at a cost we could tolerate and not detract from all the things we need to do at home to secure our own future, I’m for it.

But we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them.
Friedman is often cited as an expert on the Middle East, but were that the case it should have been pretty obvious to him that his thesis for a war as a demonstration of "suck on this"-type resolve was deeply flawed. He may be a slow learner, but given his prominence it's very good that he's learning.

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