The Echo Chamber in Thomas Friedman's Head

The columnist has a suggestion.


I'm not sure why the proprietors of The New York Times pay Thomas Friedman to write a column when @Horse_ebooks would surely do the job for free, but they do, and he has a new one. The article has all the imperial arrogance, technocratic certainty, and TED-talk-on-nitrous-oxide prose that we've come to expect from its author, plus what passes for a subtle namedrop in the Friedmanverse: "President Obama is assembling his new national security team, with Senator John Kerry possibly heading for the Pentagon and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice the perceived front-runner to become secretary of state. Kerry is an excellent choice for defense. I don't know Rice at all, so I have no opinion on her fitness for the job."

The column's conceit is that the next secretary of state should be Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, because…well, one of the arguments is this:

it would be very helpful to have a secretary of state who can start a negotiating session with Hamas leaders (if we ever talk with them) by asking: "Do you know how far behind your kids are?"

And there's also this:

As we are seeing in Egypt, suddenly creating a mass democracy without improving mass education is highly unstable.

And then there's this, which isn't technically an argument so much as it's a Brion Gysin–style cut-up of every other Thomas Friedman column:

In short, we're still indispensable, but the problems are much more intractable. Our allies are not what they used to be and neither are our enemies, who are less superpowers and more superempowered angry men and women. A lot of countries will need to go back to the blackboard, back to the basics of human capacity building, before they can partner with us on anything.

A picture emerges in which the world contains no real differences of informed opinion or conflicts between interests. There's just an elite that is educated enough to share Friedman's worldview, and a planet that needs more schooling. Give them a good K-12 and they won't be too "angry" to "partner" with us anymore.