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Glenn Greenwald: That the NYT's Tom Friedman Is Considered One of the US's 'Foreign Policy Experts' Is a National Embarrassment

Friedman's status among American elites is a potent metaphor for understanding the nation's imperial decline.

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I say this with all sincerity. If I had to pick just a single fact that most powerfully reflects the nature of America’s political and media class in order to explain the cause of the nation’s imperial decline, it would be that, in those classes, Tom Friedman is the country’s  most influential and most decorated “foreign policy expert.”

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In 2000, the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn wrote  an astoundingly good essay on Friedman which documents pre-9/11 conduct from Friedman that has largely been forgotten but which presaged almost every odious sentence and act he unleashed on the world over the last decade.

UPDATE: Friedman recently visited Australia and New Zealand to promote his latest book and, needless to say, generously gifted the citizens of those nations with his wisdom and insights about their countries. One New Zealand journalist reacted, not very gratefully,  here. Friedman was interviewed for almost an hour by one of that country’s best known radio talk show hosts, Kim Hill, and her relentlessly adversarial, critical, deeply informed and at times subtly contemptuous questioning — which can be heard on the player below or downloaded  here — stands in stark contrast to how he is routinely treated by the worshipful American media:

UPDATE II:  Here’s “The sociopathy of Thomas L. Friedman: A compendium”; it’s far from comprehensive, though it is quite illustrative.

UPDATE III: Friedman expert Matt Taibbi —  this remains the all-time Supreme Gold Standard for eviscerating not only Tom Friedman, but anyone —  pronounces today’s column “the single most incoherent thing he has ever written.”

Meanwhile, ProPublica‘s Justin Elliott  documents how obsessed Friedman is with demanding a Muslim Mandela (today: “Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time”) but never, of course, an Israeli Mandela or, more accurately, an Israeli de Klerk.


Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a Guardian columnist until October 2013, has earned numerous awards for his commentary and investigative journalism, including most recently the 2013 George Polk Award for national security reporting. In early 2014, he cofounded a new global media outlet, The Intercept. This essay is adapted from his new book,No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State(Metropolitan Books), published today.