Tom Friedman should know better
These are the first two paragraphs of Friedman’s op-ed column for today: So I step off the plane in London and the British customs guy sees on my form that I’m a journalist and asks, “Is it true there are more police to protect your president in London than there are in Baghdad?” Then I ...
These are the first two paragraphs of Friedman's op-ed column for today:
These are the first two paragraphs of Friedman’s op-ed column for today:
So I step off the plane in London and the British customs guy sees on my form that I’m a journalist and asks, “Is it true there are more police to protect your president in London than there are in Baghdad?” Then I pick up The Independent to read in the taxi and I see that London’s left-wing mayor, Ken Livingstone, has denounced President Bush as “the greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen.” Then I check out The Guardian, which carried open letters to the president, one of which is from the famous playwright Harold Pinter, who says: “Dear President Bush, I’m sure you’ll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood.” No, Dorothy, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
No, Tom, but we’re not exactly in mainstream Britain either. Livingstone’s nickname is “Red Ken“; he was expelled by the Labour Party in 2000 (though it appears he will soon be reinstated). As for Harold Pinter, well, peruse his politics page and then try to distinguish his views from Noam Chomsky’s. Meanwhile, The same day the Guardian ran their letters to George, they also found some surprising poll results:
The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is “generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world”. It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush’s visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the “evil empire” in the world…. The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters. This swing in the mood of British voters is echoed in the poll’s finding that two-thirds of voters believe British and American troops should not pull out of Iraq now but instead stay until the situation is “more stable”.
I understand why Friedman uses that opening — to make the case for tweaking U.S. foreign policy. But using an overhyped start doesn’t help Friedman’s cause. UPDATE: MSNBC has a plethora of man-on-the-street takes that are worth checking out.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.