Tom Friedman: We need a 9/10 president in a post-9/11 world

Posted by: ST on September 30, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Friedman, in his opinion piece in today’s New York Times, writes that 9/11 “made us stupid” and implores “us” to get back into “our old habits and sense of openness”:

[…] Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”

You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world” Mr. Dow said.

Note the obligatory mention of “new precautions, new barriers.” By this, what does Friedman mean? In his piece, the strong impression you get is that he finds the very “barriers” put up by the Bush administration after 9/11 – barriers meant to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil – are hindrances to what the US is all about: freedom, openness, the perfect place to realize your dreams. But what Friedman, another 9/10 lefty, still doesn’t understand is that those barriers weren’t meant to keep the good people out – they’re there to keep people who aim to do us harm from getting in. Yes, America is the land of hope and dreams, Mr. Friedman, but the “dreams” of some – most noteably Islamofascists – revolve around the death, destruction, and submission of the west, with the United States being the dominant symbol of everything radical Islamists despise. And dare I say that I could care less if people who want to visit this country decide not to do so because they don’t like the post-9/11 measures America has taken in order to protect herself? We’ve got enough idiots in this country who believe the US should play nice with those who wish to kill us, and we certainly don’t need anymore.

Friedman’s clearly upset that things had to change at all after 9/11. To him, the precautions this country has put into place, the actions taken by the President in response to the attacks, are not only irritating inconveniences to him that he’d rather not have to deal with, but also not necessary when there are issues of more “importance” that in his mind should take priority over fighting terrorism (emphasis added):

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.

[…]

Look at our infrastructure. It’s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.

Oh, the horror! George W. Bush is stealing our rights, but what’s even worse, Tom Friedman can’t get good cellphone service at his home and work. Continuing:

I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet “Euro 4″ — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren’t anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. That’s in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can’t America?

That Friedman would compare the complexity involved in our government securing this country over the relative ease with which security measures can be implemented at one of our nation’s most popular theme parks is a powerful indicator of the sheer and utter cluelessness that pervades 9/10 Democrats today on many issues, but especially ones related to our national security (like on the Patriot Act, Gitmo, warrantless wiretaps, etc, as Prairie Pundit touches on here). Mr. Friedman, the United States is not a theme park. It’s a country. It should be obvious that different rules apply, but then again, Friedman demonstrates in his stunningly ignorant essay that perhaps the obvious isn’t so obvious to people like him who believe that making it a priority to fight terrorists after Islamofascists murdered 3000 innocents on 9/11 was misguided and, in essence “anti-American.”

More, from Friedman:

We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

Angevin at The Oxford Medievalist responds:

For Friedman and the rest of the left who adopt a frivilous and rather ignorant view of the threat of Islamofascist terrorism, the measures taken since 9/11 that have, in fact, staved off attack after attack and kept us safe are the root of all of the problems Friedman observes. I do, however, agree with Friedman’s argument that “We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy,” although not at the expense of properly understanding and combating the enemy we face. Or, in some instances, with some people, that we even face an enemy – and it’s not George W. Bush. It’s a shame that people like Friedman can’t unite around the common purpose of defeating terrorism, but can quite easily unite around a platform of promoting tourism and “getting our groove back.” Rather than a 9/11 or even a 9/12 candidate, what Friedman really wants for America is a “9/10 candidate.” “Al Qaeda is about 9/11,” Friedman remarks. What he and the rest of the left fail to understand is that 9/11 changed everything – Al Qaeda and the need to defeat terrorism is not just about 9/11, but about every day thereafter.

Yep.

To lefties like Tom Friedman, the US’ focus on trying to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil has cost us our reputation worldwide, as if we should base the security of this country on what the international community has to say about it. This is the same type of dangerous thinking we saw from the 2004 Democratic nominee for president John Kerry, who advocated in 2004 that before the US acts in self-defense, that her rationale for doing so should be subjected to a “global test.” After all, we don’t want to alienate the ‘progressive’ elites in European countries whose passive approaches to the ever-growing threat of Islamofascism have proven to be “successful” only for Islamofascists (read more on that via AJ Strata), do we?

Tom Friedman: Writing out the left’s “We must bow to Dhimmitude” screed, so they don’t have to.

Also blogging about this: Jules Crittenden, Warner Todd Huston at Stop The ACLU, The Hatemongers’ Quarterly, Don Surber

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    1. Great White Rat says:

      You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration.

      And just why do you think some of the world has that misconception? It’s because so-called journalists – like, say Tom Friedman – spout disinformation like that on a regular basis. Isn’t that just like a liberal…tell lies to tear down America, and then react with alarm when other people believe those lies.

      Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.

      Ah, but what happens whenever any major airport tries to improve the infrastructure? Swarms of leftists of the Friedman stripe scream about noise, expense, endangered species of worms – anything to prevent modernization – when the real issue is NIMBY. Tom, you can’t tell us on Saturday to stop all progress and on Sunday whine about lack of modern facilities.

      I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.

      And it doesn’t matter that someone from the ChiCom party was likely listening in, of course. That’s OK, but the left wakes up in a cold sweat worrying that somewhere Dick Cheney is tapping Osama bin Laden’s phone.

      Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    2. Great White Rat says:

      By the way, as someone who routinely logs about 75,000 air miles a year, the Zurich airport isn’t anything spectacular. We have plenty of airports in the US that are more comfortable and attractive. Sky Harbor in Phoenix. E terminal, the newest one at Bush International in Houston. McCarran in Las Vegas. Liberty International in Newark. Even the A terminal at the otherwise crummy Philadelphia airport. I’ll even take some of the smaller airports, like Nashville or Charlotte, over Zurich.

      Friedman picks LGA, of course, because it is an aging dump and an easy target, and in the middle of a congested area where expansion would be difficult, even if the local left-wing loons would allow it.

      Now if you want to see an airport, especially the gate areas, go to Taipei….THAT’S something to see.

    3. NC Cop says:

      Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates,

      You sure can’t tell from reading some of the columns, though.
      But you are allowed to endorse political PARTIES, right Tom? So why not just endorse a candidate?

    4. Kareling says:

      Earth to Friedman:

      1. Move your office to Beijing.

      2. Replace Gitmo with a free hospital for poor Cubans? I thought they already had free health care–the best in the world. Don’t tell me Michael Moore was wrong?

    5. Terrye says:

      What an idiot. You have to feel sorry for Bush, the right is mad at him because they think he is not tough enough on immigration and this bozo is pissed because Microsoft is moving to Canada.

      Overall I found the oped to be tedious and silly.

    6. Don Surber says:

      I looked but the best I could find was a 7′ 9″ man.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bao_Xishun

      If you can find a 9′ 12″ man, good luck. You know what they say: If a man has big feet he must have big … shoes.

    7. Great White Rat says:

      If you can find a 9′ 12″ man, good luck.

      If you could find a 9’12” man, or even 9’10”, he’d be making a gazillion dollars a year in the NBA.

    8. Vatar says:

      the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11

      And yet millions of unwanted “visitors” continue to stream across our southern border.

    9. PCD says:

      I think the entire staff and employees of the NYT ought to be deported to Zimbabwe, and leave them there no matter how much they beg to return.

    10. Leslie says:

      The left thinks Tom Friedman’s a righty; the right he’s a lefty. He must be doing something right.

      ;)

    11. Great White Rat says:

      To lefties like Tom Friedman, the US’ focus on trying to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil has cost us our reputation worldwide, as if we should base the security of this country on what the international community has to say about it.

      Well, yes, because look at how many other countries in the past few years have elected governments that want to distance themselves from the U.S., or the west in general.

      Like Germany. Oh, wait, no, that last election went the other way, didn’t it?

      Or like France…oops, no, wrong again there.

      And like the latest one, noted here.

      But Friedman can take heart…Hugo Chavez, one of the left’s heros, still hates us. l-)

    12. Nicholas says:

      I think Friedman has a point – there is little point in America spending hundreds of billions of dollars on paranoid security if it stops investment that would a) stop bin Laden and b) encourage democracy and free trade everywhere.

      The mistake is to think that war will achieve either goal. The left and right are both guilty of attacking each other for being what they are. Both sides of a political view are right and wrong. The war on terror has not achieved its basic objectives and seems to be feeding terror rather than destroying it. The US Government has no result for this war and that is why Friedman does have a point.

      “Let’s fight terrorism until we win, we will prevail!” is not reasonable strategic planning. Neither is sudden withdrawal, neither is continuing to fight. Americans need to stop criticizing each other and think more carefully about their country’s strategy and direction.

    13. Great White Rat says:

      Nicholas has either just arrived from another galaxy, or appears to have been born yesterday:

      there is little point in America spending hundreds of billions of dollars on paranoid security if it stops investment

      Paranoid security? You mean, there’s really no one out there looking to do us harm? Interesting idea. Why don’t we meet for lunch next week and talk about it? We could eat at Windows on the World in New York. Oh wait…no, it’s not there anymore.

      As for investment, have you bothered to check a few indicators of America’s economic health? Did it ever occur to you that maybe all those business visitors going to Europe are Americans who might be buying up the place? Europe has the exact kind of open-door, easy-entry policy toward islamofascists that enthralls you, but their unemployment rate is double ours. How’s that figure into your economic theory? No thanks – we will keep a watchful eye on security while the Dow and the GNP move steadily upward.

      …investment that would a) stop bin Laden and b) encourage democracy and free trade everywhere.

      OK, I gotta hear the explanation of how increased investment in America by China, for example, is going to make Osama think, “You know, this jihad thing is so 2001. If I stop now I can still get a good job in the Kirkuk oil fields.”

      And here’s another tip: democracy doesn’t flourish anywhere unless you first have security. A land where Koranimals run loose chopping off heads left and right isn’t a land where people think long and hard about, say, whether there should be term limits on the members of their parliament.

      The mistake is to think that war will achieve either goal.

      Yup. In the same way that World War II didn’t stop Hitler.

      The war on terror has not achieved its basic objectives and seems to be feeding terror rather than destroying it.

      That would come as a surprise to the Iraqis who have been working with us to destroy the al Qaeda invaders, as ST noted here. And if he were still alive, it would have come as a shock to Abu Osmaa al-Tunisi, whose last message to bin Laden was a plea for help and showed the weakened state of the terrorists.

      “Let’s fight terrorism until we win, we will prevail!” is not reasonable strategic planning. Neither is sudden withdrawal, neither is continuing to fight.

      Now THERE’s a firm decisive stand. I suppose this is what passes for “nuance” these days on the leftist fringes. If you don’t want to confront them, what do you want to do? Sit down and negotiate with them? About what….which one of us they get to kill first?

      The islamofascists are pure EVIL. You do not try to reach an accommodation with evil. You stamp it out.

      Americans need to stop criticizing each other and think more carefully about their country’s strategy and direction.

      Here’s a better idea, Nicholas. You need to stop inserting this mush into the debate and go back to things you can comprehend, like looking at the pretty little fishies. Hunker down there in New Zealand and don’t worry. There are a hundred thousand or more brave young men and women who continue to protect your worthless hide from the head-choppers. And they are not only Americans, but Brits, Aussies, Poles, and yes, Iraqis as well as others who do understand the stakes. Because clearly, you have no idea what the stakes are.

    14. Nicholas says:

      Thank-you for the kind compliments. There are plenty of pretty fish in New Zealand. And quite a fishing industry.

      Great White Rat – I share your view that terrorism is evil. The strategy is just building more terrorism in the future like the early support of the Saddam regime did.

      Sorry to intrude into your way of thinking about opposition. But I do think both the Republican plan to hit terrorism with war, and the Democrats plan to fudge a withdrawal, negotiate or whatever crap they are dreaming up to take executive power – both are unfortunately going to produce an unsafer world.

      A better route would be to open up the doors of free trade with the world. Not for bin Laden, but for the world. To remove the power from bin Laden is easy. Give it to others.

      The USA does not support general free trade with many other democracies. China is now talking with many nations about free trade. The USA has a history of creating terror dictatorships by its military intelligence and subterfuge. We want to be supportive to the USA, but you will not offer us free trade and we are your mates (even if we want to make a stand on nukes – well that is our right).

      To understand the stakes requires the governments of the world to tell the God honest truth and stop using propaganda to nurture the extreme views of the Right and Left.

      And before you belittle New Zealanders – they have a fine record of military commitment right there with the USA, the UK, Australia and Canada. You better get yer facts right, mate! And our leader of the opposition believes the Iraq war is over.

    15. NC Cop says:

      But I do think both the Republican plan to hit terrorism with war, and the Democrats plan to fudge a withdrawal, negotiate or whatever crap they are dreaming up to take executive power – both are unfortunately going to produce an unsafer world.

      I disagree. When Iraq becomes stable, as stable as one can expect a country in it’s position to become, the terrorists will lose all their power. No longer will the “Muslim oppression” propaganda work, it is already turning against them as more Iraqis are fighting alongside U.S. and Iraqi troops. They no longer buy the terrorists version of the truth, but they are seeing the truth with their own eyes. This, in turn, sends a message to all those nations who support terrorism. They will know that they will be held accountable if they train, fund, or support terrorism in any way.

      Unfortunately, had more nations joined the coalition from the beginning I feel this would have been accomplished already and the message already sent. Instead, Al Qaeda and it’s supporters, saw hope and promise when the world turned against the war. By pushing the right buttons, they have accomplished far more than they ever thought possible.

      A better route would be to open up the doors of free trade with the world. Not for bin Laden, but for the world. To remove the power from bin Laden is easy. Give it to others.

      This statement seems to imply that combating poverty will help combat terrorism and on the surface it does. However, as you yourself noted, it does nothing for the Bin Laden’s of the world and as you know, the bin Laden’s cannot be ignored or marginalized. So what do you do? You make them, and all those who support them, afraid. You make the terrorists afraid to leave their caves and you make the nations afraid to give them shelter, training, or money.

      Indeed, worldwide terrorism has increased and I feel this is because most of the nations on this earth have chosen to appease rather than confront the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. This, as you know, does nothing but encourage this behavior.

      In a post 9/11 world, you cannot ignore a nation that has refused to comply with UN resolutions on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Removing Saddam and installing a democracy will have far reaching consequences for Iran, Syria, and Russia which is why they are doing so much to sabotage it.

      China is now talking with many nations about free trade.

      Sometimes it is better to make a point about running over innocent civilians with tanks rather than make some money, but that’s me. Again, if the world had stood with us, China would not have other countries to turn to and it’s human rights records might be a little better.

    16. Great White Rat says:

      A better route would be to open up the doors of free trade with the world. Not for bin Laden, but for the world. To remove the power from bin Laden is easy. Give it to others.

      Poverty isn’t what motivates the terrorists. Many of the 9/11 hijackers were well-off college graduates. Bin Laden’s second in command is a doctor, as were the terrorists caught in the recent UK bomb plots. You could miraculously give everyone in the world a million bucks and a new Mercedes tomorrow, and it would not change a thing. AQ’s message of hate is religious, not economic.

      The USA does not support general free trade with many other democracies.

      Interestingly, the people who oppose such a policy are your allies on the left here. For example, they’ve tabled attempts to establish free trade with a very democratic government in Colombia because of a strong pro-Hugo Chavez contingent among the libs.

      The USA has a history of creating terror dictatorships by its military intelligence and subterfuge.

      Balderdash. We have a history of freeing people. You have a short memory not to remember those Iraqis proudly displaying purple fingers only a year or so ago.

      As for New Zealanders, I know all about the track record. The combat record of the ANZAC troops is legendary and exemplary. On the other hand, here in the US, the people of Massachusetts at one time took a stand for low taxes, less government intrusion, and more personal freedom – and look how that’s reversed itself. Get the point?