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|Thomas L. Friedman|
July 20, 1953 |
St. Louis Park, Minnesota, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Minnesota
St Antony's College, Oxford
|Net worth||$25 million USD|
|Children||Orly and Natalie|
Thomas Lauren Friedman (born July 20, 1953) is an American journalist, columnist and author. He writes a twice-weekly column for The New York Times. He has written extensively on foreign affairs including global trade, the Middle East, and environmental issues and has won the Pulitzer Prize three times.
Thomas Friedman was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota — a suburb of Minneapolis — on July 20, 1953. He is the son of Harold and Margaret Friedman. Harold Friedman, who was vice president of a ball-bearing company, United Bearing, died of a heart attack in 1973, when Tom was nineteen years old. Margaret Friedman, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and studied home economics at the University of Wisconsin, was a housewife and a part-time bookkeeper. She also was a Senior Life Master duplicate bridge player and died in 2008. Friedman has two older sisters, Shelly and Jane.
From an early age, Friedman, whose father often brought him to the golf course for a round after work, wanted to be a professional golfer. He played a lot of sports, becoming serious about tennis and golf. He caddied at a local country club; in 1970 he caddied for the legendary Chi Chi Rodriguez when the US Open came to town.
Friedman is Jewish. He attended Hebrew school five days a week until his Bar Mitzvah, then St. Louis Park High School where he wrote articles for his school's newspaper. He became enamored of Israel after a visit there in December 1968, and he spent all three of his high school summers living on Kibbutz Hahotrim, near Haifa. He has characterized his high school years as "one big celebration of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War."
Friedman studied at the University of Minnesota for two years, but later transferred to Brandeis University and graduated summa cum laude in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies. Friedman taught a class in economics at his alma mater Brandeis University in 2006, and was a commencement speaker at Brandeis in 2007.
After Brandeis he attended St Antony's College at the University of Oxford on a Marshall scholarship, earning an M.Phil. in Middle Eastern studies. He names Professor Albert Hourani among his important academic influences.
Friedman's wife, Ann, is a graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics. They were married in London on Thanksgiving Day 1978. Her father, Matthew Bucksbaum, was the chairman of the board of General Growth Properties, a real estate development group. As of 2007, Forbes estimated the Bucksbaum family's assets at $4.1 billion, including about 18.6 million square meters of mall space, but the firm's value later plummeted. The family's trust declined in value from $3.6 billion to $25 million.[dead link] On April 16, 2009, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after failing to reach a deal with its creditors. The GGP collapse marked the largest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Friedman joined the London bureau of United Press International after completing his Master's degree. He was dispatched a year later to Beirut, where he lived from June 1979 to May 1981 while covering the civil war there. He was hired by The New York Times as a reporter in 1981, and redispatched to Beirut at the start of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. His coverage of the war, particularly the Sabra and Shatila massacre, won him the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting (shared with Loren Jenkins of The Washington Post). Alongside David K. Shipler[clarification needed] he also won the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting.
In June 1984, Friedman was transferred to Jerusalem, where he served as the Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief until February 1988. That year he received a second Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, which cited his coverage of the First Palestinian Intifada. Afterward he wrote a book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, describing his experiences in the Middle East, which won the 1989 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Friedman covered Secretary of State James Baker during the administration of United States President George H. W. Bush. Following the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, he became the White House correspondent for the Times. In 1994, he began to write more about foreign policy and economics, and moved to the op-ed page of The New York Times the following year as a foreign affairs columnist. In 2002, Friedman won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat."
In February 2002, Friedman met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and personally encouraged him to make his comprehensive attempt to end the Arab-Israeli conflict by normalizing Arab relations with Israel in exchange for the return of refugees alongside an end to the Israel territorial occupations. Abdullah proposed the Arab Peace Initiative at the Beirut Summit that March, which Friedman has strongly supported since.
Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times:
In addition, in 2005 he was elected as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Friedman first discussed his views on globalization in the 2000 book The Lexus and the Olive Tree. In 2004, a visit to Bangalore, India, and Dalian, China, gave Friedman new insights into the continuing trends of globalization and the forces behind the process, leading him to write a follow-up analysis, The World Is Flat.
One of Friedman's theses states that individual countries must sacrifice some degree of economic sovereignty to global institutions (such as capital markets and multinational corporations), a situation he has termed the "golden straitjacket."
While Friedman is an advocate of globalization, he also points out (in The Lexus and the Olive Tree) the need for a country to preserve its local traditions, a process he termed 'glocalization', although the term was already in use by most social anthropology theorists.
In today's global situation, Thomas Friedman is concerned about the United States' lack of independence when it comes to energy. He states, “First rule of oil - addicts never tell the truth to their pushers. We are the addicts, the oil producers are the pushers - we’ve never had an honest conversation with the Saudis.” Friedman expresses a strong stance on America's need to become more energy independent and to lead in technologies concerning environmental compatibility. He believes this will cause the authoritarian rulers in the Middle East to be coerced out of power — as their petrodollar reserves are depleted — by a growing population of young people. He also believes this is the best way to spread stability and modernization in an autocratic and theocratic region. Friedman argues also that energy independence will strengthen America's economy by basing its energy infrastructure on domestic products (such as biodiesel), and will ease the world tensions caused by burgeoning energy demand, exacerbated by emerging economies such as those of India and China.
Opponents of free trade charge that Friedman does not consider the purchasing power of domestic labor as a key driver in economic output. However, Friedman argues that when low-skill and low-wage jobs are exported to foreign countries, more advanced and higher-skilled jobs will be freed up and made available for those displaced by the outsourcing. He theorizes that as long as those whose jobs are outsourced continue to further their education and specialize in their field, they will find better-paying and higher-skilled jobs.
He also views American immigration laws as too restrictive and damaging to economic output:
"It is pure idiocy that Congress will not open our borders – as wide as possible – to attract and keep the world's first-round intellectual draft choices in an age when everyone increasingly has the same innovation tools and the key differentiator is human talent."
After September 11, 2001, Friedman's writing focused more on the threat of terrorism and the Middle East. He was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat". These columns were collected and published in the book Longitudes and Attitudes. For a while, his reportings on post-9/11 topics led him to diverge from his prior interests in technological advances and globalization, until he began to research for The World Is Flat.
After the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Friedman called for the U.S. State Department to "shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears," to create a quarterly "War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others." Friedman said the governmental speech-monitoring should go beyond those who actually advocate violence, and include also those whom former State Department spokesperson Jamie Rubin calls "excuse makers." In his July 25 column, Friedman wrote against the "excuses" made by terrorists or apologists who blame their actions on third-party influences or pressures.
After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us ... why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism" Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."
During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Friedman wrote the following in The New York Times:
"Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too."
These statements were criticized by British media analysts David Edwards and David Cromwell, who wrote "The thrill of this for Friedman lies in discussing the devastation of a nation as if he were a salesman offering a range of services."
Friedman supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writing that the establishment of a democratic state in the Middle East would force other countries in the region to liberalize and modernize. In his February 9, 2003, column for The Wall Street, Friedman also pointed to the lack of compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction:
The French position is utterly incoherent. The inspections have not worked yet, says Mr. de Villepin, because Saddam has not fully cooperated, and, therefore, we should triple the number of inspectors. But the inspections have failed not because of a shortage of inspectors. They have failed because of a shortage of compliance on Saddam's part, as the French know. The way you get that compliance out of a thug like Saddam is not by tripling the inspectors, but by tripling the threat that if he does not comply he will be faced with a U.N.-approved war.
In an interview with Charlie Rose in 2003, Friedman said:
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?" You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This. ..We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth...
Similarly, in NPR's Talk of the Nation, September 23, 2003:
.. and sometimes it takes a 2-by-4 across the side of the head to get that message.
Since the invasion, Friedman has expressed alarm over the post-invasion conduct of the war by the George W. Bush administration. Nevertheless, until his piece dated August 4, 2006 (see below), his columns remained hopeful to the possibility of a positive conclusion to the Iraq conflict (although his optimism appeared to steadily diminish as the conflict continued). Friedman chided George W. Bush and Tony Blair for "hyping" the evidence, and stated plainly that converting Iraq to democracy "would be a huge undertaking, though, and maybe impossible, given Iraq's fractious history".
In January 2004, he participated in a forum on Slate.com called "Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War", in which he dismisses the justification for war based on Iraq's lack of compliance with the U.N. Resolutions:
The stated reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction that posed a long-term threat to America. I never bought this argument...
Friedman wrote that regime change was the proper justification for the war:
The right reason for this war, as I argued before it started, was to oust Saddam's regime and partner with the Iraqi people to try to implement the Arab Human Development report's prescriptions in the heart of the Arab world. That report said the Arab world is falling off the globe because of a lack of freedom, women's empowerment, and modern education. The right reason for this war was to partner with Arab moderates in a long-term strategy of dehumiliation and redignification.
If they the Sunnis won't come around, we should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.
In his August 4, 2006, column for The New York Times, Friedman stated that the effort to transform Iraq by military invasion had failed, and that it was time for the United States to admit failure and disengage:
Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, democracy is not emerging in Iraq, and we can't throw more good lives after good lives.
As of August 16, 2007, Friedman supports setting a date for withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Iran's Great Weakness May Be Its Oil, by Thomas Friedman, challenges and debates conflicts about oil. Friedman states,"The best tool we have for curbing Iran's influence is not containment or engagement, but getting the price of oil down in the long term with conservation and an alternative-energy strategy. Let's exploit Iran's oil addiction by ending ours".
In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, he says that "any car company that gets taxpayer money must demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next generation cellulosic ethanol".
In a Fresh Dialogues interview, Friedman described his motivations for writing the book: “My concern is about America...Demand for clean energy, clean fuel and energy efficiency is clearly going to explode; it’s going to be the next great global industry. I know that as sure as I know that I’m sitting here at De Anza College talking to you. By being big in the next big thing, we’ll be seen by the rest of the world as working on the most important problem in the world.”
A number of critics have taken issue with Friedman's views, as well as aspects of his writing style. Critics deride his penchant for excessive optimism, a consistently flawed analytical approach, and a habit of trotting out unexamined truisms to support his opinions. Various commentators have accused Friedman both of anti-Israel and pro-Israel bias; others have criticized his support for the Iraq War and views on globalization.
Some critics have derided Friedman's idiosyncratic prose style, with its tendency to use mixed metaphors and analogies. Walter Russell Mead described his prose as being "an occasionally flat Midwestern demotic punctuated by gee-whiz exclamations about just how doggone irresistible globalization is – lacks the steely elegance of a Lippmann, the unobtrusive serviceability of a Scotty Reston or the restless fireworks of a Maureen Dowd and is best taken in small doses." Similarly, journalist Matt Taibbi has said of Friedman's writing that, "Friedman came up with lines so hilarious you couldn't make them up even if you were trying – and when you tried to actually picture the 'illustrative' figures of speech he offered to explain himself, what you often ended up with was pure physical comedy of the Buster Keaton/Three Stooges school, with whole nations and peoples slipping and falling on the misplaced banana peels of his literary endeavors."
Economist Edward Herman has accused Friedman of making denigrating remarks about Arabs and the Arab world, comparing his use of "Ahmed" as a short-hand for Palestinians in general to Jesse Jackson's use of "Hymie" as a short-hand for Jews.
Noam Chomsky has accused Friedman of bias, citing that the columnist and his employer, The New York Times, refused to publish information regarding Arafat's offer to enter into negotiations with the Israeli leadership in 1984. Chomsky writes in his Necessary Illusions and Pirates and Emperors that Friedman knew about the offer, but instead reported that Israel couldn't find a negotiating partner.
Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have both accused Friedman of supporting and cheerleading American and Israeli actions, while berating others for "excusing" Islamist and Arab terrorism. They point to Friedman's article in the New York Times, when Friedman praises the bombing of Gaza civilians by arguing it "educates" the Gazans. Chomsky responds that "by similar logic, bin Laden's effort to 'educate' Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin's destruction of Grozny, and other notable educational exercises". More generally, Chomsky accuses Friedman of continually "banging the drum for war" and US-supported violence in various parts of the world.
Israeli politician and peace activist Uri Avnery has questioned Friedman's argument that the best role for the Obama administration on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to refuse to intervene politically, forcing the two sides to resolve the issues internally.
Friedman does not propose ending (US financial and military) support (to Israel), which itself is a massive intervention in this conflict, and is given to the stronger side. When he suggests that the US withdraw from the conflict, he is actually saying: let the Israeli government do what it is doing – continue the occupation, set up new settlements, withdraw the land from under the feet of the Palestinian people, go on with the murderous blockade that denies the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – men, women and children –almost all the necessities of life.
This is a monstrous suggestion... If (Obama) accepts, God forbid, Friedman’s advice and leaves the picture, the vision will turn into a nightmare. The Israeli government will increase the oppression, the Palestinians will turn to unbridled terrorism, the entire world will be dragged into bloody chaos.Some advice.
Despite his status as a senior journalist whose views are read by the Israeli establishment, in recent months, Friedman came under growing criticism. This criticism is a response to columns in which he attacks Israel's policies under the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The criticism relates to Friedman's substantive views as well as his writing style "Driving Drunk in Jerusalem" (March 2010), "B.E., Before Egypt. A.E., After Egypt" (February 2011) and "Postcard From Cairo, Part 2" (February 2011)
According to Friedman, Israel should make significant territorial concessions, withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories and cede these territories to the Palestinian Authority. Further, he states that such concessions are essential to U.S. national security interests. These views have been challenged by many in the Israeli media, culminating in an article published in the Israeli Ynet on February 14, 2011 authored by Martin Sherman who argues:
Friedman adopted the most malevolent and mendacious aspects of anti-Israeli slander.
In general, Friedman favors a heavy U.S. intervention in the Mideast peace process, geared towards forcing the Israelis to withdraw from territories viewed by Israelis as necessary for the Israeli state's security. The criticism of Friedman's view is based, among other factors, on recent publications of leaked documents WikiLeaks, as stated in Sherman's article:
"this absurd theory, that Washington can only galvanize a front against a common threat by undermining its allies, was vividly underscored by the WikiLeaks exposé, which showed that despite the absence of Palestinian statehood, Arab regimes had little inhibitions about pressing the Obama administration to "cut off the head of the (Iranian) snake" before it was too late.
Critics of Friedman's position on the Iraq War have noted his recurrent assertion that "the next six months" will prove critical in determining the outcome of the conflict. A May 2006 study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting cited 14 examples of Friedman's declaring the next "few months" or "six months" as a decisive or critical period, dating from in November 2003, describing it as "a long series of similar do-or-die dates that never seem to get any closer." The blogger Atrios coined the neologism "Friedman Unit" to refer to this unit of time in relation to Iraq, noting its use as a supposedly critical window of opportunity.
In a live television interview aired June 11, 2006, on CNN, Howard Kurtz asked Friedman himself about the concept: "Now, I want to understand how a columnist's mind works when you take positions, because you were chided recently for writing several times in different occasions 'the next six months are crucial in Iraq.'" Friedman responded, "The fact is that the outcome there is unclear, and I reflected that in my column. And I will continue to reflect." Responding to prodding from Stephen Colbert, Friedman said in 2007, "We've run out of six months. It's really time to set a deadline."
In September 2009, Friedman wrote an article praising China's one-party autocracy, saying that it was "led by a reasonably enlightened group of people." China's leaders, he reported, are "boosting gasoline prices" and "overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power." When asked if he had "China envy" during a Fresh Dialogues interview, Friedman replied, "You detect the envy of someone who wants his own government to act democratically with the same effectiveness that China can do autocratically." Likewise, in a 2011 interview with the BBC Friedman says that he wants his children to live in a world where "there's a strong America counterbalancing a strong and thriving China, and not one where you have a strong and rising China and an America that is uncertain, weak and unable to project power economically and militarily it historically did."
Some of Friedman's environmental critics question his support of still undeveloped "clean coal" technology and coal mining as emblematic of Friedman's less than "green" commitment to renewable energy. While Friedman supports the elimination of coal-based power, he believes improving coal technology is necessary in the short term.
Canadian author Linda McQuaig devoted a chapter of her 2001 book All You Can Eat, analyzing and comparing the writing and argument styles of Friedman and Dinesh D'Souza. She expresses the opinion that they are apologists of Globalization. In 2006 Friedman remarked on television that he had written a column in support of the Central American Free Trade Agreement knowing only that the words "free trade" appeared in the name; Noam Chomsky cited this as evidence that Friedman's reputation as an insightful journalist is undeserved.
Friedman's books have seen considerable commercial success. His book The World Is Flat was on the New York Times Best Seller list from its publication in April 2005 until May 2007. Since July 2006, the book has sold more than two million copies.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded contains 17 chapters; Friedman has asked readers to submit ideas for the expanded edition's 18th chapter. He will use these ideas in a forthcoming expanded hardcover edition or the paperback edition. Users can submit their ideas and vote on others' ideas online.
Friedman has hosted several documentaries for the Discovery Channel from several locations around the world. In Straddling the Fence (2003), he visited the West Bank and spoke to Israelis and Palestinians about the Israeli West Bank barrier and its impact on their lives. Also in 2003, Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: Searching for the Roots of 9/11 aired on the Discovery Times Channel. This program investigated the reason for Muslim hatred of the United States, and how the Sept. 11th attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon were viewed in the Muslim world.
In The Other Side of Outsourcing (2004), he visited a call centre in Bangalore, interviewing the young Indians working there, and then travelled to an impoverished rural part of India, where he debated the pros and cons of globalization with locals (this trip spawned his eventual best-selling book The World is Flat).
In Does Europe Hate Us? (2005), Friedman travelled through Britain, France and Germany, talking with academics, journalists, Marshall and Rhodes scholars, young Muslims and others about the nature of the strained relationship between Europe and the United States.
Addicted to Oil (2006) premiered at the Silverdocs Documentary Festival at 5:30 PM on June 16, 2006, and aired on June 24, 2006, on the Discovery Times Channel. In it he examined the geopolitical, economic, and environmental consequences of petroleum use and ways that green technologies such as alternative fuels and energy efficiency and conservation can reduce oil dependence.
In Green: The New, Red, White and Blue (2007), Friedman elaborates on the green technologies and efforts touched on in Addicted to Oil and in doing so, attempts to redefine green energy as geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. He explores efforts by companies and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and save money with conservation, efficiency, and technologies such as solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, and clean coal.
Frank, Robert; Kris Hudson (2008-12-09). "Dark Days for Mall Dynasty: The Fallen Bucksbaum Family", The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on December 29, 2008
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