Apr
13
2011

Friedman, Iraq and the U.S. Referee

Tom Friedman, writing today about the Arab Spring (4/13/11–the same column Jim Naureckas critiqued for FAIR Blog here):

Another option is that an outside power comes in, as America did in Iraq, and as the European Union did in Eastern Europe, to referee or coach a democratic transition between the distrustful communities in these fractured states.

It's been a while since I've played an organized sport, but if any coach or referee did anything resembling what the U.S. has done in Iraq, they would be removed from the league, and probably put in jail.

That analogy sounded familiar, though. Turns out he's used it before:

Iraq teaches what it takes to democratize a big tribalized Arab country once the iron-fisted leader is removed (in that case by us). It takes billions of dollars, 150,000 U.S. soldiers to referee, myriad casualties, a civil war where both sides have to test each other's power and then a wrenching process, which we midwifed, of Iraqi sects and tribes writing their own constitution defining how to live together without an iron fist. 3/23/11

The U.S. military is still needed as referee. It still is not clear that Iraq is a country that can be held together by anything other than an iron fist. It's still not clear that its government is anything more than a collection of sectarian fiefs. –6/18/08

It's time to blow the whistle on Friedman for abusive use of analogy.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.