Thomas L. Friedman’s columns in The New York Times are thought-provoking. His concerns about the environment and social justice are laudable. However, his analysis often suffers from an insistence of putting himself into every story and for an almost naive belief in America’s moral duty to lead the world.
Today’s column (Sun. NYT 19.07.09) on education in Afghanistan “Teacher, Can We Leave Now? No.” is noteworthy for its embrace of ‘soft’ imperialism (now backed by Obama’s big guns) and its transparent Orientalism. Having swooped into a remote village school by helicopter with a top American military commander, Friedman describes a heroic effort to educate Afghani girls. Once again, that’s a laudable goal. What’s surprising is the lack of context and scepticism in Friedman’s argument.
Friedman’s column and American policy in Afghanistan are part of an old story that usually ends in tears – the USA, Great Britain and other NATO countries (including Canada) probably face the same prospects for success in Afghhanistan as the British and Soviet empires did.