Friedman in the New York Times Goes After Donald Trump: Hey, Massive Bombing Was MY Idea!

In-depth Report:

Thomas Friedman doesn’t like threats of massive bombing when they’re made by someone else.

Thomas Friedman has some harsh words in his New York Times column (12/9/15) for Donald Trump and his unsophisticated grasp of the complexities of foreign policy:

As for Trump, well, he may be a deal maker, but he’s no poker player ready for the Middle East five-card stud sharks. His xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing make up the kind of simplistic hand you’d play in “Go Fish” — not in this high-stakes game.

Where could Trump have gotten the idea that his “infantile threats of massive bombing” would be taken seriously as foreign policy proposals? Well, as a resident of New York City, maybe he reads the New York Times:

US bombing of Iraq (cc photo: Andy Dunaway/US Army)

There is only Option 2 — bombing Iraq (pictured right), over and over and over again, until either Saddam says uncle, and agrees to let the UN back in on US terms, or the Iraqi people eliminate him….  Given the problems with the other options, we may have no choice but to go down this road. Once we do, however, we better have the stomach to stay the course.

–Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 1/31/98)

Blow up a different power station in Iraq every week, so no one knows when the lights will go off or who’s in charge.”

–Friedman (New York Times, 1/19/99)

Novi Sad under NATO bombardment (cc photo: Darko Dozet)

Let’s at least have a real air war. The idea that people are still holding rock concerts in Belgrade, or going out for Sunday merry-go-round rides, while their fellow Serbs are ‘cleansing’ Kosovo, is outrageous. It should be lights out in Belgrade: Every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted…. (pictured left)

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.

–Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 4/23/99) on Serbia

People tend to change their minds and adjust their goals as they see the price they are paying mount. Twelve days of surgical bombing was never going to turn Serbia around. Let’s see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance.

–Thomasa Friedman (New York Times, 4/6/99)

Airstrikes on Tora Bora

My motto is very simple: Give war a chance.

–Thomas Friedman (ABC News, 10/29/01) on Afghanistan

Let’s all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give war a chance. This is Afghanistan we’re talking about. (pictured right)

–Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 11/2/01)

I was a critic of [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld before, but there’s one thing…that I do like about Rumsfeld. He’s just a little bit crazy, OK? He’s just a little bit crazy, and in this kind of war, they always count on being able to out-crazy us, and I’m glad we got some guy on our bench that our quarterback — who’s just a little bit crazy, not totally, but you never know what that guy’s going to do, and I say that’s my guy.”

–Thomas Friedman (CNBC, 10/13/01)

There is a lot about the Bush team’s foreign policy I don’t like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right.

–Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 2/13/02)

Prisoners, Abu Ghraib

We needed to go over there, basically, and take out a very big stick… and there was only one way to do it…. What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, 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.” That, Charlie, is what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia; it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

–Thomas Friedman (Charlie Rose, 5/30/03)

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its air force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians–the families and employers of the militants–to restrain Hezbollah in the future.”

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (1/13/09) on why Israel needed to kill civilians in Gaza

Jim Naureckas is the editor of

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Articles by: Jim Naureckas

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