Sharply pointed, finely delivered observations on world politics and the ongoing war on terrorism, by New York Times columnist Friedman (The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999).
Yes, the US has angered the Arab world by siding with Israel over the last half century. No, we didn’t have it coming. Yes, globalization does entail more than hamburgers and Coca-Cola. No, we’re not innocent, but Americans are essentially good and a far sight better than those disaffected Islamists recruited out of European mosques to fly airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and targets unknown. Expressing these points and others, albeit far more elegantly, Friedman gathers columns from the last two years that are eminently helpful in understanding the great divide yawning between the Western and Arab worlds. The author’s roving beat with the New York Times permits him to travel wherever he finds a story, and in his journeys—reported in more depth in the second part of this book, which he calls an “analytical diary”—he turns up a few surprises. He notes, for instance, that in India, home to “the second-largest Muslim community in the world” (surpassed only by Indonesia), Muslims have for the most part been friendly to the US because, he explains, India is a representative democracy, not one of the barbarous, repressive states that rule most of the Islamic world. Though not shy of sword-rattling—he insists that we are now fighting WWIII, even if most of the country seems not to know it—Friedman is also highly critical of the Bush administration for its many failures in explaining American interests to the world and in freeing the nation from the need to do business with Saudi Arabia and company in the first place.
Controversial, yes. Smart, yes. And essential reading for anyone keeping track on world events over the last year.