Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In which Tom Friedman's still at it.

I love Tom Friedman:
This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly. But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.
Yes, that's right: not only are we sending out invitations to Democracy In Iraq's baby shower, but we're defining that birth through the contrast of "extraordinarily painful and costly" births and "virgin" births.

At first I thought this was just a new chapter in Friedman's long, troubled relationship with metaphor. But, for the moment, let's take him seriously.

My impression had always been that what distinguished a virgin birth was the lack of sex. The only possible way this analogy makes sense is if you take "sex" to mean "an unwelcome incursion by armed men" -- in which case it makes perfect sense, I suppose.

And it's pretty well-documented that in military circles, that is at least one thing it means. Alicia Simoni wrote that "an integral part of the military’s objective to turn men (and women) into soldiers is the creation of a rigid hierarchy of power and subordination that exists in relation to imagined female and homosexual inferiors." She cites Anthony Swofford, talking about referring to hands as dickskinners and mouths as cum receptacles.

We refer to videos of drones blowing shit up as "drone porn" -- if that's a reasonable analogy, what does that say about what we watch porn for?

And by the way, what the fuck does "which has never known any such thing" have to do with anything? Is he suggesting that the only place where you can have democracy without killing hundreds of thousands of people is Bethlehem? Because if so, let me remind you that Bethlehem is in the fucking West Bank.

Also, I know Tom Friedman, at the time, was way active in trumpeting for the march to war. I imagine that at some point he claimed we'd be welcomed as liberators and everything would be hunky-dory. But there's no fucking way I'm wading through enough of his writing to fact-check that claim. If you have the stomach for it, I'd love to hear about what you find.

Other highlights:
Real “Islamic democracy” is just like any other democracy, except with Muslims voting.
Might part of the problem with what's going on in Iraq and especially Afghanistan be an effort to take an institution from one culture and forcibly transplant it in another culture, without regard for existing institutions? Taking "white American democracy," calling it "democracy," and presenting it as a model for the rest of the world?
We need to see real institution-builders emerge, including builders of a viable justice system and economy. And we need to be wary that too big an army and too much oil can warp any regime.
This is coming from the fucking United States of America?

1 comment:

  1. You should read David Graeber's essay, "There Never Was a West." Very good and quite a propos.



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