What, did Thomas Friedman run out of taxi drivers or pink-haired hipsters to help him with today’s column? Today’s Friedman thumb-sucker, “Who Had It Easier—Reagan or Obama?”, he offers up one of the most ironic and tired out tropes of liberalism—that the Cold War era was so much less complicated than today because it was a binary conflict between two otherwise rational superpowers. Hate to break this to Friedman, but other liberals were using this line ten years ago.
In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now. . .
Here’s how: The defining struggle in Reagan’s day was the Cold War, and the defining feature of the Cold War was that it was a war between two different systems of order: Communism versus democratic capitalism. But both systems competed to build order — to reinforce weak states around the world with military and economic aid and win their support in the Cold War. . .
This isn’t what the New York Times, or nearly all of Friedman’s predecessors on the Times’ op-ed page (not to mention nearly all of the academic Sovietologists and arms controllers dug in like ticks at the State Department), said back in the 1980s. Then, Reagan was a dangerous simpleton who didn’t understand how complex the Cold War world was. Anyway, to continue with Tom-Tom:
Obama’s world is different. It is increasingly divided by regions of order and regions of disorder, where there is no one to answer the phone, and the main competition is not between two organized superpowers but between a superpower and many superempowered angry men.
I suspect if Reagan were here today, he’d speak plainly about how we needed do “disempower” these “superempowered angry men,” chiefly by killing them, and certainly by calling them by their proper names—evil people who represent the suppression of every civilizing sentiment that ever existed in the Islamic world. (I have noted before how the medieval tradition of what might be called “Islamic humanism,” embodied by philosophers and theologians who noted points of harmony with Christian and Jewish culture, is actively suppressed in the Arab world today. Why don’t we try to revive this tradition with active propaganda measures, like we did against Communism in the Cold War? Why not “Radio Free Arabia”?)
And I have no doubt Friedman would be the first to condemn this “simplistic” thinking.