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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/28/17

Tom Friedman's Paean to a Saudi Tyrant Ignites NYT Comments-Storm

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From Counterpunch

"I've never thought much of Friedman's work, but this is the work of a complete toady." -- Jim, New York Times comments section

"What a nauseating exercise in a"-kissing!" -- Karim Pakravan, NYT comments section

Why did Tom Friedman write such a gushing tribute to the Saudi tyrant, Mohammed bin Salman? (See: "Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, At Last," New York Times)

Is Friedman a supporter of the power-hungry Crown Prince? Does he think that rounding up one's political rivals, hanging them upside down and beating them with rubber hoses is an acceptable way to conduct an anti-corruption campaign?

Did Friedman know that the object of his man-crush is a reprobate despot who, in the last year alone, oversaw the beheadings of over 150 people?

Saudi Arabia is the most fanatical, retrograde theocracy in the world today. It's no wonder that a bloodthirsty autocrat like Salman would rule such a kingdom. But how does Friedman fit in with all this? Why would he want to put his reputation on the line for such a dodgy miscreant as Salman? He knows the Saudis are funding extremist madrassas around the world. He knows they're arming and training jihadists to fight in Syria, and prosecuting a genocidal war of annihilation in Yemen. He also knows that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 came from Saudi Arabia, the petri-dish from whence all Salafist terrorism emerges. He knows all of this, and yet, he still provides cover for the man by writing a lengthy Homage to a Saudi Dictator in his weekly article at the Times. Why?

Bill Van Auken figured it out in an article at the World Socialist Web Site. He said:

"...the Trump administration and the predominate layers within the US military and intelligence apparatus have made the Saudi monarchy a lynchpin of their preparations for confrontation with Iran, threatening a region-wide war that would eclipse the devastation wrought by the invasion Friedman promoted 15 years ago."

That's what this is all about: Iran. Good old Tommy boy is buffing up Salman's tarnished image so Washington can use him in their upcoming drive to war with Iran. That's what's going on. Friedman is just providing the public relations make-over, y'know, like lipstick on a pig.

It's not so different than the role he played in the build-up to the war in Iraq. Here's an excerpt from an article Friedman wrote on November 30, 2003:

"...even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot." THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times, NOV. 30, 2003

The United States unleashed holy hell on Iraq, killed over a million of its people, destroyed one of the world's oldest civilizations, and left the country in a smoldering pile of rubble. But in Friedman's mind the war was "one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted." Is it any wonder why he finds the ghastly Salman so admirable?

There's no freedom in Saudi Arabia. It's a lock-down Wahhabist police state where women can be beaten on the streets for not complying with the strict dress-code. Check out this blurb from a piece by Amnesty International on Saudi Arabia 2016-2017:

"The authorities severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, detaining and imprisoning critics, human rights defenders and minority rights activists on vaguely worded charges. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common, particularly during interrogation, and courts continued to accept torture-tainted 'confessions' to convict defendants in unfair trials. Women faced discrimination in both law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence...Courts imposed many death sentences, including for non-violent crimes and against juvenile offenders; scores of executions were carried out."

Get the picture? Saudi Arabia is the most reactionary, backwards, repressive country on earth, which is what makes Friedman's apologia for Salman all the more outrageous. Just listen to kowtowing Tom's praise for the "progressive" wunderkind, MBS, in the opening paragraph of his fawning masterpiece, "Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, At Last":

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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