Ed Driscoll

Thomas Friedman's Multifaceted Views On Democracy

Friedman in September of 2009 on “Our One-Party Democracy:”

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Friedman, today: “It’s Up to Iraqis Now. Good Luck:”

Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly. But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.

Some argue that nothing that happens in Iraq will ever justify the costs. Historians will sort that out. Personally, at this stage, I only care about one thing: that the outcome in Iraq be positive enough and forward-looking enough that those who have actually paid the price — in lost loved ones or injured bodies, in broken homes or broken lives, be they Iraqis or Americans or Brits — see Iraq evolve into something that will enable them to say that whatever the cost, it has given freedom and decent government to people who had none.

So Mao’s brutal dictatorship and millions killed are acceptable because China is currenly led by “a reasonably enlightened group of people” (if you say so, Tom), but Saddam’s isn’t? As Jonah Goldberg writes (and they’re having lots of fun with Friedman’s multifaceted views on democracy throughout the Corner today; just keep scrolling):

The real breakthrough will come when Friedman writes that Iraq’s transition from villainous autocracy to democracy has merely set the stage for what Iraq really needs: “enlightened autocracy” you know, like the Chinese have. If only Saddam had invested in solar-powered windmills, we could have spared the bother.

Elsewhere, while Mattel is busy creating Mad Men dolls (no cigarettes or Martini glasses to help today’s kids get off on the right foot, alas), Hanna-Barbera seems to have acquired the rights to Friedman’s life story.