Thomas L. Friedman

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman joins us in the studio. He’s just back from visiting Yemen, Syria and Turkey. We’ll talk to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist about his thoughts on the turmoil in Syria, U.S. jobs and NSA surveillance, among other topics. Friedman is in San Francisco to host “The Next New World,” a New York Times forum on technology and the global economy.

Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with The New York Times and author of "From Beiruit to Jerusalem," "That Used To Be Us" and "The World is Flat"

  • Tommy Lauren

    I wonder if Tommy Friedman visited with the Sunni térrorist rebels when he was in Syria, to give them moral support like John McCain did. I bet Tommy decided to swing down there after he and his buddies at the Bilderberg group finished up their meeting near London, so that he might let the extremists know that the planned New World Order has a role written just for them: As bogeymen and hunters of democratic secularists. If wonder if Tommy knows that the term “Al Qáéda” comes from a CIA database program that listed the mujahídeen assets on the US payroll, in fact it means “the database”. Hey look, here’s Tommy in the Bilderberg yearbook, along with former Näzí Prince Bernhard… mashugana!

  • thucy

    It’s hard for most NY Times readers to watch the excerpt from Friedman’s notorious 2003 Charlie Rose interview (“We hit Iraq because we could”) and understand how he was retained by “the paper of record.”

    Here’s the video:

    Here’s the final quote:
    Friedman: “And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad uhm, and basically saying: which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go? Well, s*ck on this. Ok? That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. We could have hit Pakistan, We hit Iraq, because we could. And that’s the real truth.”

    • Chris OConnell

      I did a lot of head-scratching about how we could go to war with Iraq in the wake of September 11th. And how over 70% of Americans could be led to support it. And so while I hardly endorse Friedman’s analysis, I think it is mostly correct, especially the part about “We hit Iraq because we could.” Rumsfeld spoke about the lack of rich targets in Afghanistan. So Afghanistan did not satisfy the need of the wounded Leviathan to strike back against the Arab world. Iraq did (and then some…) and I truly believe this was a big factor leading the US to war.

      Even if he is incorrect, it is ridiculous to say he should be fired for offering this analysis. That is one thing that is good about Friedman. Everyone seems to hate him (or I should say all of us little people do since the Establishment loves him), but he is out there. He does on occasion offer ideas out of left field and that is a good thing.

    • Chemist150


      That displays a lot of ignorance of history and… ewwwww…

    • Wally Bass

      Thanks for that link. That is certainly an interesting extract of Friedman, for one who hasn’t studied him all that much.

      It seems clear that Friedman was still VERY angry about 9/11, and very emotional at the time of that interview. The interview was a long time ago — probably before we had much clue as to how the war would really turn out, or what the war would cost either us or Iraq. I think back to my reactions of the time. Realistically, I was out for blood at the time, in part because memories of and feelings from the Gulf war were still vivid, and I supported the Iraq invasion much more than I should have. However, people do work through things, including their anger, and change their views. I not going to shoot myself for even the large errors of judgement that I had then, and I’m not going to shoot Friedman either. By far the most important issue is whether people get stuck where were at some time, and become incapable of changing their minds (which seems to be a general problem with many of the R’s, at this point in time).

      The interview was in 2003, and Charlie’s question, which was approximately “Now that the war is OVER (!!!!), but we are having some difficulty with the peace, was it worth it?” should give you a clue that most everyone was in a VERY, VERY different place then then we are today. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not sure but what, posting that link, without any attempt to warn viewers as to the timeframe and context, isn’t more than a little manipulative and dishonest.

      But it is indeed an interview worth looking at, as a part of understanding who Friedman is.

      • thucy

        Goodness, Wally. However did you extrapolate the idea of “shooting” Mr. Friedman or yourself from someone pointing out that many NY Times readers don’t understand why Friedman was retained after his multiple bizarre outbursts post-9/11? Such language, Wally. Really.

        Look, as a 9/11 survivor, and as someone who lost friends in the collapse, I can understand being angry. But literally millions of New Yorkers like myself did not advocate invading a country that had nothing to do with the WTC attacks.

        I have no idea why you would have thought that a sensible idea. It’s just plainly illogical, at best.

        • Narnio

          If the Twin Towers collapsed at free fall speed, as the videos show, how did so much perfectly good steel move out of the way so quickly as the upper part of the buildings fell? The answer is: Extensive use of explosives, as proven by the videos of the collapses themselves as well as chemical tests of the WTC dust, which showed military-grade nano-thermite — a powerful explosive. WTC 7 however when it fell at 5:20pm on 9/11 was a traditional controlled demolition.

          See here:

      • Narnio

        Any member of the Bilderberg group like Friedman will be following the same script about 9/11: They will pretend it was perpetrated by Muslims (false, in fact no evidence says that), that only 2 buildings collapsed (false, it was 3), that the official investigation was fair (false, it was rigged, witnesses were ignored and commission members say they were blocked), and they always steer way clear of any talk about NORAD’s standing down that day, or the too-small hole in the Pentagon, or about 90 other major problems with the official story. 9/11 was an inside job, plain and simple. That’s what the science says. The media and politicians however could not care less.

        And notice Friedman’s sick logic: Because we shouldn’t have another 9/11, which would mean severe martial law for sure (indeed there is a list of 8 million Americans meant to be rounded up), we have to accept a police state today.

  • jurgispilis

    Here are some thought about US jobs. Why is the approach “job creation” rather than “job retention”? Why not have a protective tariff to prevent jobs from being exported without severe penalties? Why not reduce importation of foreign workers who compete for jobs with native workers?
    Government is not good at creating jobs, but it knows how to levy tariffs. It knows how to issue work visas. Why give government a role in which it has no expertise – namely “creating jobs”?

    • Chemist150

      Jobs (labor supply) are driven by money supply. With the money supply in the US dwindling by going to China, Brazil,… through debt and trade imbalances, the labor supply grows and joblessness grows. It’s not innovation and technology driving job creation, it’s money supply. That’s why the politicians fail, they do not know what they should be discussing.

    • Narnio

      You can download foreign workers’ salary information here:

  • Guest

    Can Friedman touch on the recent developments in Afghanistan?

  • Chris OConnell

    I am still waiting for a foreign policy discussion with a non-American Exceptionalist (i.e. an objective analysis and not one infused with double standards and pure patriotism/nationalism). Even just a plain old realist such as Scowcroft would be a breath of fresh air from the neocons, liberal interventionists and other U.S.-flag-wavers that populate these (nonetheless) interesting discussions.

  • thucy

    translation of Friedman’s “it’s still not clear” = “more Friedman units!”

  • LTF

    Our foreign policy has always been that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. At the same time we have unprecedented surveillance on American citizens we are negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan. We don’t have a consistent foreign policy.

  • Leonard Heil

    What in the end supports the animosity between Iran and Israel? It seems they have a common adversary in Arab nationalism. Mightn’t a detente between Israel and Iran be the keystone to mideast stability?

  • Chris OConnell

    A couple of years ago in Turkey, they talked about the Occupy protests in the US and how could this happen to the leading power in the world. THe US was supposed to be the center of stability, the leading democracy in the world. Yet these protests, these occupations, these forceful police reactions, the arrests. Oh, what are we to make of the US!

  • Chemist150

    The Terrorists have won leading our government into undermining our Constitution and turning it into only a piece of paper while they continuously try to take away more Constitutional rights.

    • Narnio

      Except that 9/11 was perpetrated by the US military contractors and CIA during a US military stand-down. Don’t believe it? Find out about WTC building 7, which collapsed at freefall speed at 5:20pm on 9/11, despite not being hit by any planes.

      • Chemist150

        No it wasn’t.

        • Narnio

          If you decide it wasn’t before looking at the facts, that’s called having a closed mind due to cognitive dissonance.

          • Chemist150

            I’ll say this as a chemist. If you have the reactants thoroughly mixed and add the sufficient activation energy for the reaction, the reaction will occur and progress at a given rate depending on mixing and catalyst issues.

            With that said, there was one conspiracy that I do not consider nefarious that I know of and I’ll explain. The lead investigator said that there was enough heat to melt aluminum and the thermal images easily confirmed this. Almost exactly one year later, he said there was not enough heat to melt aluminum.

            The chemistry part: An aluminum alloy plane was smashed into a building and wrapped around iron beams, iron office hardware like file cabinets and more aluminum office equipment like cubicles chairs and the iron beam definitely had iron oxide on the surface. Kerosene nebulized and mixed with air can definitely get to the heat to melt aluminum. In addition, the fuel contains sulfur compounds that would readily oxidize iron as well at the given temperature. The reactants were mixed and the sufficient heat of activation was generated. Yes, the termite reaction did happen and without question.

            Why did he change his tune? The conspiracy is that they don’t want it public information how easy it is to take down a building. I don’t know what happened to the other building but that does not seem like a good conspiracy to set that one up to fall too, it makes no sense given no plane was ramming into it. The heat and debris probably had something to do with it but there is no nefarious conspiracy that I can see.

  • Chris OConnell

    Everyone in any position of prominence is guilty of American Exceptionalism. It is not something they are guilty of, it is their ticket to success.

  • troll

    Accepting the condition of a continuing state of warfare makes inevitable the erosion and demolition of civil liberties. This is a direct
    consequence of an aggressive weapons-wielding ‘power’. We should be talking about deconstructing the military-industrial complex, not complaining about the expectable result of our brutish, meddling paranoia as a society.

  • Candis Meetra Dastmalchi

    Iran and Israel will always have animosity between them. That’s because a “great civilization” such as Iran could never openly condone and cow down to the absolute violations of human rights at the hands of the extremist Zionist regime in Israel. One that, by the way, pretends the nuclear non-proliferation treaty does not exist. He thinks he knows something after “visiting” a few places? he speaks of these countries in such ignorant and over simplified means. It’s so in line with the imperialistic mentality and colonial stereotype that has tilted the middle eastern region into utter violence and chaos.

    • erictremont

      Among other atrocities over the past 30 years, Iran’s regime has funded the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations, bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, persecuted religious minorities, and repeatedly called for the complete destruction of Israel. But apparently it infuriates you that Israelis refuse to accept the notion that there is virtue in cowardice when faced with the constant threat of violence.

      • Candis Meetra Dastmalchi

        Firstly, there is very little cause for anyone to go around espousing hatred for sovereign nations and those groups they are free to support. You forget, not every country sees Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. Palestinians see the extremist Zionist government as a terrorist organization, I don’t see you using that word for them. The zionists are at the helm of a genocide against Arabs, and have even been documented to have used UN banned white phosphorous in order to realize their goal of wiping Palestine from the map. So you’re defending a nationistic, racist regime that has taken the lives of multitudes of people simply because they’re Arab? Instead you choose to inflame propagandistic, double standards to in support of these contrite assertions? If you don’t like present day Iran, think of how constant intervention and imperialism forced the 1979 revolution. You forget how badly people were targeted, tortured and killed during the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi through the training Mossad have to SAVAK…. That’s cowardice, that’s oppressive.

        • erictremont

          Last time I looked the Arab population within Israel was growing at a faster rate than the Jewish population, which does not exactly fit any plausible definition of genocide. As of the Shah of Iran, he certainly was a despot but at least he promoted progressive policies toward women and never oppressed religious minorities. Despite his transgressions, he was a much better ruler than the thugs who have ruled Iran for the past 34 years. The term “Islamic fascist” tends to be overused when describing that region, but the shoe fits when talking about Iran, and obviously you and some of the other commentators on this site are quite comfortable with the concept. As for Israel’s human rights record, it compares quite favorably with Iran or any Arab country.

  • trite

    Mr. Friedman appears to have learned nothing from the disastrous US war in Iraq. All I heard about the attempt to “democratize” the country were platitudes about what was nothing more than adventurism.

  • Hugh Nevin

    Never mind the lesson on the Ottoman empire. Friedman is still haunted by his support for the Iraq invasion. His rationalization – “bringing democracy” – doesn’t cut it with this listener. He implies that because he agonized over the affair, and his support wasn’t based on “WMD”, that somehow vindicates him in the long run. Talk about specious reasoning. When he resorted to the word “stupid” in reference to the caller Norman – who provided a very artriculate/legitimate analysis/criticism – Friedman revealed his thin skin. It was a very unclassy and unprofessional thing to do on air. Bad manners really. Clearly the caller touched a nerve.
    I’m surprised by Friedman’s popularity as a journalist. Pulitzer prize-winner no less. I don’t subscribe to the New York Times, but I’ve heard him many times on public radio including WBUR/On Point with Tom Ashbrook. What stands out is his glibness and how often he resorts to cliche. Krasny’s deferential treatment (part of his style) ultimately short changes the audience. Notice he hardly ever allows for a rebuttal.

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