Thomas Friedman

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Obama Administration is laying out their plans for the next steps in Afghanistan tonight. Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, now in paperback, discusses his take on the war in Afghanistan and offers analysis of climate change policy, diplomacy in the Middle East and other news.


Thomas Friedman

Comments [66]

Reg Metcalf from seoul, ROK

just wanted to piggyback on ALL those who ask over and over again, why-oh-why anybody asks (much less, respects) thomas friedman's opinion on ANYTHING. he is a bloviating, morally bankrupt gasbag for all the reasons so eloquently stated above.

Dec. 03 2009 03:55 AM
Lis F from Short Hills, NJ

As a Dane in the US, I'm often amused when Americans ask how Danes pronounce Copenhagen.
Here's the scoop:

In English: Copenhagen (rhymes with 'heygen')
In German: Kopenhagen (rhymes with 'haaargen')
In Danish: København

So what's the confusion? Why would you want to pronounce it in German if you're speaking English?

Dec. 02 2009 02:35 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Maggie, EXACTLY what was said,

the actual verbatim words, NOT your interpretation,

and who said the words that are insulting, denigrating, patronizing, offensive to Arabs/Muslims?

Dec. 01 2009 10:33 PM
Maggie from New York

I find it astounding that again and again Arabs and Muslims can be insulted and denigrated on a respectable station like WNYC without rebuke. If the sort of patronising and offensive remarks and generalities that were made by this commentator were applied to any other group, he would be called what he is - a racist. BTW thanks to those that recommended Taibbi - very funny indeed.

Dec. 01 2009 04:34 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Can anyone show where a Western "anti-war" sector clique EVER demonstrate, pontificate AGAINST Al Qada, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden?

Dec. 01 2009 01:18 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"Danes say Copen-HAY-gen. It drives them crazy when Americans say Copen-HAH-gen."

Ah. So it's "HAH-gen-das" and NOT "HAY-gen-das"?

However you pronounce it I say YUM!

Dec. 01 2009 12:58 PM
Marco from New York

Pontificating reason why I don't read the Times any more. He's now trying reinvent himself as a n environmentalist ...from his huge energy-sapping house in Maryland (remind you have self-sacrificing hypocrite Al Gore?)

Dec. 01 2009 12:07 PM

adel hussein [58] thank you for more constructive criticism than i can often bring myself to give mr. friedman.

Dec. 01 2009 12:05 PM
Jon Lennox from Hackensack

Listened to the show on the way in to work this morning...on the how to pronounce "Copenhagen" question.

The Danish pronounciation (of København) comes out something like "Koobinhavn".

When I was in Denmark (in 1989), the Danes told me to either use the Danish pronunciation or the English (Copen-HAYgen) pronunciation. The Copen-HAHgen pronunciation is the German pronunciation, and they don't much like Germans, especially since 1945.

Dec. 01 2009 11:50 AM
Adel Hussein from NYC

This is regarding Mr. Friedman’s comment that suicide bombings in Iraq could be remedied by demonstrations in Muslim countries protesting these bombings. While suicide bombing are deplorable and against the essence of Islam, I just want to clarify that any demonstrations would not solve intractable problems that we failed to resolve in countries that we own because we invaded. Many politicians and analysts indicated that any long term solution of Iraq security and stability problems is hinged on arriving at an internal political solution that would give all its ethnic parties a stake in their country and enable them all to live in relative peace. However, while there are improvements and elections were held, by all accounts the Iraqi Government did not offer such an internal political solution and ruling parties are doing what their utmost to keep their grip on power without regard to the country’s long term stability. This is in spite of the pressure from the US government to push them towards such political solution. It would be ingenious from Mr. Friedman, as a supporter of the invasion of Iraq, to ask demonstrations to solve what we failed in solving after all the sacrifices of the lives of thousands of troops and billions of dollars spent and continue to spend over there.

Dec. 01 2009 11:37 AM
db from nyc

Matt Taibbi sums it up pretty well:

Dec. 01 2009 11:32 AM
Nate from Manhattan

Link to Glenn Greenwald's analysis of Thomas Friedman's op-ed on "The Narrative"

Read the comments section, too, if you can. There are many intelligent insights that add to the picture.

Dec. 01 2009 11:22 AM
Nate from Manhattan

Mr. Friedman makes a brilliant connection that Pakistan has had eight years and if it really wanted, could have found Osama bin Laden. But they have a disincentive because of all the money the Pakistani military gets while OBL is at large.

I wonder why he does not entertain the thought that the USA may have similar motivagtions.

Dec. 01 2009 11:16 AM
Jayr from Queens, NY

Our government has underlined our military escalation in both Afghanistan and Iraq by demanding that citizens of those countries stand up and fight against the Taliban and other insurgent extremists. My question is this: What if Afghanees and Iraqis don't want to? What then? Will our military never leave?

Our government asserts that we know the will of the moderate Muslim world (are they even a majority?), and we attempt to open those doors by military force. I may be ignorant to foreign policy implementation, but it seems to me that our use of the US armed forces has produced little in changing the will of Islam.

Dec. 01 2009 11:11 AM
hjs from 11211

is there carbon in carbon dioxide?

Dec. 01 2009 11:07 AM
art525 from park slope

Why does anyone give Mr Friedman any credence. Although he pontificates with an air of supreme confidence he has been consistently wrong. Do you remember his mantra during the war in Iraq (which he was a cheerleader for) that it would turn in the the next six months, it all depends on the next six months, everything hinges on the next six months, the next six months will tell the tale. I think he sad that every month. Sad to hear people defer to him yourself included.

Dec. 01 2009 11:03 AM
David from Upstate NY

"Read Matt Taibbi writings about Thomas Friedman.. hilarious and insightful" So true. I just had to turn the volume down on my computer - he is a clown.

Dec. 01 2009 11:01 AM
hjs from 11211

18] Evelyn
just because he works for the NYT

Dec. 01 2009 11:01 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

De-Baathification was the natural thing for the Conservatives to do. They don't *believe* in good government, they believe in privatizing government functions, and they very quickly started privatizing everything they could and encouraging looting of government and public property.

It didn't make sense to them to keep a robust government in place, after all their mission here since the Reagon years has been the destruction of a civil government in favor of a market-based one. Iraq was their petri-dish of freedom, and Tom is one of the pushers of that ideology. He's in fact culpable for it.

Dec. 01 2009 10:59 AM
tF from 10075

we attacked the arabs first in 1919!

there have been many periods of history were islam was peaceful.

Dec. 01 2009 10:59 AM
antonio from park slope

I wish all of us here on the comment's page could have been in the greene space...I feel the folks there are a bit passive at best...

Dec. 01 2009 10:58 AM
db from nyc

I think we've finally found the source of global warming!

Thank you Brian for having Mr. Friedman on your show, today!

Dec. 01 2009 10:58 AM
Nate from Manhattan

Mr. Friedman doesn't understand that Muslims would attack Muslims.

Perhaps if he were able to see Muslim as a monolithic entity to be dealt with, rather than peoples that have differences, he would not need to go into any random Middle Eastern country and hit them over the head with a 2x4 and tell them to Suck. On.

I guess he doesn't then understand how WWII in Europe happened. Why would those Christians want to attack other Christians?

Dec. 01 2009 10:57 AM

How is the "CAP" figured derived, in Cap and Trade -- is this the amount of pollution that can be emitted before it starts effecting the earth?

Dec. 01 2009 10:57 AM
the truth! from BKNY

We have a target end date for Afghanistan it is 2013.

Dec. 01 2009 10:57 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

Listening to Tom Friedman, I was suddenly reminded of Charles Reich and The Greening of America (c. 1970). My recollection is that Reich's message was quite similar to what Friedman is saying: the country needs something to rejuvenate its populace, and perhaps the movement to "green" can provide the impetus.

Dec. 01 2009 10:55 AM
Specter from Manhattan

I am surprised on the justification of the Iraq war from an intelligent man like Mr. Friedman.

Even if one puts the moral issues aside, the way all the reasonable war games calculations, from military, human, political and financial p.o.v, were disregarded in case of the Iraq invasion shows an incredible lack of intelligence. That was foreseen then, and it was painfully confirmed by reality.

Once again, why is Mr. Friedman risking his intellectual reputation on this?

Dec. 01 2009 10:54 AM
Sigrid Junkermann from NYC

Am listening to your show, I love Thomas Friedman's analogy about us not paying for our present environmental sins and charging them to our children and grandchildren's credit cards - however, one point: Carbon (black, solid) is a chemical element, not a molecule, and what we are emitting that contributes to global warming, is not carbon but carbon dioxide (CO2), a colorless gas), and that IS a molecule. I know we are making the same mistake when we talk about the "carbon" footprint, which should be the "carbon dioxide" footprint.
Sigrid Junkermann
(used to teach chemistry, still teach about biology and the environment)

Dec. 01 2009 10:52 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Wanting technological and policy fixes and expecting those to economize and create efficiencies for you is nothing but pure laziness.
Actually, it’s more than laziness, it’s selfishness. It’s saying “I don’t want to change my wasteful ways, I want technology and policies to foster my greed, gluttony, sloth, and vanity. I will not sacrifice, waste is my birthright.”

Dec. 01 2009 10:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

A drop in the bucket? I actually keep a bucket in the shower, & it doesn't take long for it to fill up. Those buckets add up over time, over the city, over the whole country. Shorter showers can save a lot. (I use the water in the bucket to flush the toilet--save water on both ends!)

Dec. 01 2009 10:50 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

An ETHIC of conservation goes hand-in-hand with a switch towards an ETHIC of sustainability, leading towards prolonging humans' collective existence.

If individuals are out only for oneself (to wit: greedy) and anti-sustainability, then that means you are anti-human.

Hey the world, the universe will survive in one form or another without humans.

Dec. 01 2009 10:50 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

re: conservation
When I remember the 70's, I remember President Ford asking Americans to have WIN gardens. Americans laughed at him. Much of what we gained in the 70's in terms of the environment was lost when Reagan came into office.

Dec. 01 2009 10:50 AM

Sorry I can't listen to anything Friedman says until the NYTimes replaces him with an Indian writer. He was a non-stop cheerleader for outsourcing during the 00s. Maybe the NYT business model would be more competitive if they hired an Indian at 1/10 the cost of him! When I was at school the computer science dept. enrollment dropped more than 30% (at a tech school!) because everyone heard the "giant sucking sound" of jobs flooding out of the country. Now the computer science kids are fixing laptops at Staples for a paycheck. Nice for them to find work but it's a lot short of the software engineering jobs Friedman helped send overseas.

Dec. 01 2009 10:49 AM
Ken from Brooklyn

What is Mr. Friedman's position on controlling/reducing world population, without which all other questions are moot?

Dec. 01 2009 10:48 AM
whoindatgarden from Brooklyn

In July, the House passed a gravely flawed global warming bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or ACES. At best, this bill gives us only a 50/50 chance of avoiding catastrophic runaway global warming. And it guts the Clean Air Act — one of our most powerful tools for reducing greenhouse gases.
How does the U.S society come to terms with making the Sacrifices really needed today to bring parity to the equation.
It is very naive of Mr.Friedman to think that we will solve the issue around Climate Change by innovation only.

Dec. 01 2009 10:47 AM
BrettG from Astoria

With regard to Denmark, when I was there in the 60s, they preferred that English speakers use a long A - Kopenhaygen. Kopenhaagen short A - is considered a German pronunciation. The pronunciation in Danish different from both as in København.

Per the above, I agree - Why have Tom Friedman on - he's always an "indicator" that shows up later than massive hiring in a "recession." He, like David Broder & other DC Villagers, have proven themselves wrong time & again - but the "media" refuse to update their "Rolodexes" with economists, etc., who have been right in recent years- not in the forefront 10+ years ago.

Dec. 01 2009 10:47 AM
the truth! from BKNY

Since President Obama has been in office, we are suddenly so concerned with "our children's" future. Are we not someone's children? What did our children inherit from the Bushes sting in office?

Dec. 01 2009 10:46 AM

i second and third all the comments here asking why we are still asking tom friedman his opinion. he is no more than a free market apologist and warmonger shrouded in a catchy book title.

Dec. 01 2009 10:46 AM
e.o. from Brooklyn

How does Tom reconcile his love of golf and interest in the 'saving' the environment?

Are these things exclusive?

Dec. 01 2009 10:44 AM

god, friedman is such a hack.

Dec. 01 2009 10:44 AM
charlene from boston

Definitely Copen-HAY-gen. I got corrected by a Dane once.

Dec. 01 2009 10:44 AM
Paul from New Rochelle, NY

There was no justification for Iraq. North Korea was shouting to the world we have nuclear weapons, and we had real intelligence that this was true. We support Saudi Arabia's monarchy which subjugated its people, keeps half the population uneducated and is as corrupt as Karzahi.

Freidman's arguments mean we should be in Sudan, Nigeria and half the third world.

Pleas excuse the spelling errors!

Dec. 01 2009 10:41 AM
Allan from NJ

Please read Glenn Greenwald's 10/29/09 piece on Thomas Friedman at Try to maintain your composure.

Dec. 01 2009 10:40 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Is Tom suggesting he really believes that the free market will take care of global warming?

Dec. 01 2009 10:38 AM
db from nyc

Thomas Friedman: The perpetual Zionist.

Tom, FYI - there was NO good reason for invading Iraq. It is not enough that Saddam Hussein espoused hostile rhetoric toward Israel. EVERY excuse the Bush administration put forth to justify this crime has been unequivocally dismissed as false!

Dec. 01 2009 10:37 AM
Lindsay from Manhattan

Danes say Copen-HAY-gen. It drives them crazy when Americans say Copen-HAH-gen.

Dec. 01 2009 10:36 AM
Chris Brunt from brooklyn

While I agree with Thomas Freidman's call for restraint in Afganistan, his anaylsis of the history and reasons for our two prevailing wars has always seemed incredibly naive, hypocritical and ultimately patronizing. Nowhere does Mr Friedman ever question whether democracy has had anything to do with these missions. Never does Mr Friedman recognize our historic and continual support of autocrats and tyrants such as Saddam Hussein himself. Why would anyone think we have changed and become a proponent of democracy when we supply weapons and support for these regimes? And finally the sense that we know what is best for them is a characteristic of all patronizing empires while in reality we as all empire states are in reality interested in resources and trade.

Dec. 01 2009 10:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Re your questions at the beginning, Brian, I wouldn't have applauded any of the either/ors. I haven't heard much about any approach besides the troop surge. The surge in Iraq worked (to the extent it did) in conjunction w/the Awakening, which involved paying insurgents to switch sides. I've heard several suggestions on WNYC from people living or working or reporting in Afghanistan for what's needed there, including investing in projects to benefit the people who are caught in the middle of the violence.

As for a definite end date, I'd rather it were a goal that could be gauged & adjusted if necessary than a fixed date. And by now I don't remember the 3rd question!

Dec. 01 2009 10:34 AM
Gary Ives

With regard to Friedman's justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq: I'd like to be polite and say that he's deluded, but think my initial reaction is more to the point. He has his head up his ass.

Dec. 01 2009 10:33 AM
Evelyn from Jersey City, NJ

Just tuned in. Why are we still asking Friedman for his opinion? He was all in favor of the nonsense war in Iraq. How could he have not known there was no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, that we really needed to get it right in Afghanistan, etc., etc.

Brian, why is Friedman still be asked for his opinion????

Dec. 01 2009 10:31 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

How would Mr. Friedman feel about this approach to conflicts in the Middle East: Stop all direct aid and other payments to all Middle Eastern countries, without exception, and use that money for unilateral or multilateral (NATO) conflict resolutions (war) and nation building where required.
This would make the United States solely responsible for the dollars it pours into the region. This wouldn’t be deficit neutral, which seems to be what he is calling for in matters of national security and foreign policy, but it would put America fully in control of the dollars America sends to the region.

Dec. 01 2009 10:31 AM
antonio from park slope

Thomas Friedman,
Are you aware of all the truths that every ordinary news junkie knows about the Iraq war. (i.e. connecting 911 to Iraq was a lie, WMDS = lies, the notion of Alqaeda in Iraq before the war etc. more lies). I mean was it worth giving a blank check to contractors (just another transfer of wealth) that could have meant healthcare, infrastructure for the usa just to have end up with some "stability" in Iraq????

Dec. 01 2009 10:31 AM
CBaldwin from dobbs ferry new york

What is Mr. Friedman's opinion of the recommendations and approaches of people like Greg Mortensen, Rory Stewart and Sarah Chayes, all of whom have extensive experience with the people of Afghanistan? Given his intimate connection to the White House, are experts like these individuals being consulted and listened to as seriously as are our military commanders by President Obama?

Dec. 01 2009 10:28 AM
hjs from 11211

2 non-nations

Dec. 01 2009 10:28 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

So who's going to ask him about his "Suck. On. This." foreign policy? Even if it's an "unstated" reason for going into Iraq, how... what? I mean, this is just such drivel, it could be coming out of Sarah Palin's mouth.

Dec. 01 2009 10:28 AM
Tom from Toronto

Tom Friedman's last column in the NYTimes was an example of lazy writing. Sunni's are not out in the streets demonstrating against the killing of other Muslims, since a vast majority of these killings are viewed as sectarian, ie. Shiite - with the most extreme viewing these as not-even Muslims. Yes its reprehensible, but understandable.

However the whole cartoon thing gets the Muslim street agitated since its highly symbolic.

Doesn't Tom Friedman know the difference?

Dec. 01 2009 10:28 AM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

What do people think, that Pakistan should exterminate Waziristan and the Pashtuns and commit genocide? Because that's what its going to take to totally eliminate the Taliban. You couldn't eliminiate the Nazis or the Japanese militarists without waging total war and flattening entire cities.

Friedman is right that ultimately the Muslim world will have to go through difficult reforms and its own civil wars before the terrorist threat to Western Civilization is truly contained. Only when Islam can live peacefully alongside other religions and civilizations in true peace and equality can this situation be pacified.

Dec. 01 2009 10:27 AM

What an incredibly fatuous gasbag Thomas Friedman is.

The idea that this guy is respected foreign policy "analyst" is hilarious -- or tragic.

30,000 feet, indeed.

Brian might want to mention that far from wanting to reform Iraq, Friedman's first justification for the invasion was the idea that Iraq would have to "Suck. On. This.", to teach the Arab world a lesson.


Dec. 01 2009 10:25 AM
hjs from 11211

what about the saudi arabian front, the one where we give them cash for oil?

Dec. 01 2009 10:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

rj: Go to the page for today's whole show ( The link for the videostream is at the bottom of the description of the show under "Home and Abroad."

Dec. 01 2009 10:23 AM
Bobby G from East Village

When Mr. Friedman calculates the costs and the benefits of the invasion of Iraq, does he really think it was worth it?

Dec. 01 2009 10:18 AM
eastvillage from union sq

Why does anyone pay attention to Mr. Friedman? He strongly supported and urged the invasion of Iraq that had not attacked us and that was not a threat to us by supporting "terrorist" that he is now trying once again to use to support the invasion that has been such a disaster. He's neo-colonialits.

Dec. 01 2009 10:14 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

what does mr.friedman think about instituting a draft in this country? if politicians are willing to send people to die in war they and the rest of the country should all feel the pain.

Dec. 01 2009 10:09 AM
uos from queens

Read Matt Taibbi writings about Thomas Friedman.. hilarious and insightful

Dec. 01 2009 10:02 AM
hjs from 11211

don't forget we walked away from afghanistan once before in the early 90s

Dec. 01 2009 09:45 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Does Mr. Friedman believe that the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people should be investigated by the United Nations or other bodies for war crimes for directing Palestinian adults to use their children as human shields?

What does Mr. Friedman think of Israel publicly rejecting President Obama’s demand for` preconditions before negotiations? Did President Obama really think that he could dictate policy to Israel in public rather then quietly behind closed doors?

Dec. 01 2009 08:36 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.