When you start reading this piece you wonder if it’s a rant, but as you go on reading you realise that the piece is downright funny. The writer, Matt Taibbi, who clearly doesn’t like Thomas Friedman’s ideas, critiques his latest book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.
The language is sometimes NSFW but this is a piece that is worth reading because it is engaging and funny. (I’ve not read any of Friedman’s books and I could still relate to the article, so don’t let that stop you.)
And who cares if it doesn’t quite make sense when Friedman says that Iraq is like a “vase we broke in order to get rid of the rancid water inside?” Who cares that you can just pour water out of a vase, that only a fucking lunatic breaks a perfectly good vase just to empty it of water? You’re missing the point, folks say, and the point is all in Friedman’s highly nuanced ideas about world politics and the economy — if you could just get past his well-meaning attempts to explain himself, you’d see that, and maybe you’d even learn something.
My initial answer to that is that Friedman’s language choices over the years have been highly revealing: When a man who thinks you need to break a vase to get the water out of it starts arguing that you need to invade a country in order to change the minds of its people, you might want to start paying attention to how his approach to the vase problem worked out. Thomas Friedman is not a president, a pope, a general on the field of battle or any other kind of man of action. He doesn’t actually do anything apart from talk about shit in a newspaper. So in my mind it’s highly relevant if his manner of speaking is fucked.