New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was one of media’s most vocal advocates for the invasion of Iraq. On Feb. 5, 2003, he said, “I think I get this war, and, on balance, I think it is a risk worth taking.” On March 9, 2003, he added, “Regime change in Iraq is the right choice for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the world. Mr. Bush is right about that.”
Yesterday on NPR’s On Point radio show, Friedman began attacking liberals when a caller asked him about his early support for the invasion of Iraq. He sarcastically said that next time, he’ll “be a better liberal” and “will view the prospect of Arabs forging a democracy as utterly impossible. They’re incapable of democracy.” Listen here:
Friedman’s attacks on war critics have always been misplaced. On Jan. 22, 2003, he attacked liberals for failing to recognize that “regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda,” and on June 4, 2003, he said that “the failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction” was not an issue with which the country should be concerned: “It was the wrong issue before the war, and it’s the wrong issue now.”
FRIEDMAN: Look, I understand people who opposed the war. Some opposed it for military reasons, because they’re against war, some opposed it because they hate George Bush, some opposed it because they didn’t believe Arabs are capable of democracy. I wasn’t in that group. I really believed that finding a different kind of politics in collaboration with people in that region was a really important project.
ASHBROOK: And do you really believe —
FRIEDMAN: I’m really sorry. Next time — Next time Ishwar [caller], I promise, I really promise, I’ll be a better liberal. I’ll not in any way support any effort to bring democracy to a country ruled by an oil-backed tyranny. I promise I will never do that again. I promise I’ll be a better liberal. I will view the prospect of Arabs forging a democracy as utterly impossible. They’re incapable of democracy. I agree with you on that now.
ASHBROOK: You’re going to sarcasm. We can feel you’ve taken your licks on this.