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“I’ve never thought much of Friedman’s work, but this is the work of a complete toady.”

Jim, New York Times comments section

“What a nauseating exercise in a…-kissing!”

Karim Pakravan, NYT comments section

Why did Tom Friedman write such a gushing tribute to the Saudi tyrant, Mohammed bin Salman? (See: “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, At Last,” New York Times)

Is Friedman a supporter of the power-hungry Crown Prince? Does he think that rounding up one’s political rivals, hanging them upside down and beating them with rubber hoses is an acceptable way to conduct an anti-corruption campaign?

Did Friedman know that the object of his man-crush is a reprobate despot who, in the last year alone, oversaw the beheadings of over 150 people?

Saudi Arabia is the most fanatical, retrograde theocracy in the world today. It’s no wonder that a bloodthirsty autocrat like Salman would rule such a kingdom. But how does Friedman fit in with all this? Why would he want to put his reputation on the line for such a dodgy miscreant as Salman? He knows the Saudis are funding extremist madrassas around the world. He knows they’re arming and training jihadists to fight in Syria, and prosecuting a genocidal war of annihilation in Yemen. He also knows that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 came from Saudi Arabia, the petri-dish from whence all Salafist terrorism emerges. He knows all of this, and yet, he still provides cover for the man by writing a lengthy Homage to a Saudi Dictator in his weekly article at the Times. Why?

Bill Van Auken figured it out in an article at the World Socialist Web Site. He said:

“…the Trump administration and the predominate layers within the US military and intelligence apparatus have made the Saudi monarchy a lynchpin of their preparations for confrontation with Iran, threatening a region-wide war that would eclipse the devastation wrought by the invasion Friedman promoted 15 years ago.”

That’s what this is all about: Iran. Good old Tommy boy is buffing up Salman’s tarnished image so Washington can use him in their upcoming drive to war with Iran. That’s what’s going on. Friedman is just providing the public relations make-over, y’know, like lipstick on a pig.

It’s not so different than the role he played in the build-up to the war in Iraq. Here’s an excerpt from an article Friedman wrote on November 30, 2003:

“…even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don’t know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.” THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times, NOV. 30, 2003

The United States unleashed holy hell on Iraq, killed over a million of its people, destroyed one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and left the country in a smoldering pile of rubble. But in Freidman’s mind the war was “one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted.” Is it any wonder why he finds the ghastly Salman so admirable?

There’s no freedom in Saudi Arabia. It’s a lock-down Wahhabist police state where women can be beaten on the streets for not complying with the strict dress-code. Check out this blurb from a piece by Amnesty International on Saudi Arabia 2016-2017:

“The authorities severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, detaining and imprisoning critics, human rights defenders and minority rights activists on vaguely worded charges. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common, particularly during interrogation, and courts continued to accept torture-tainted ‘confessions’ to convict defendants in unfair trials. Women faced discrimination in both law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence….Courts imposed many death sentences, including for non-violent crimes and against juvenile offenders; scores of executions were carried out.”

Get the picture? Saudi Arabia is the most reactionary, backwards, repressive country on earth, which is what makes Friedman’s apologia for Salman all the more outrageous. Just listen to kowtowing Tom’s praise for the ‘progressive’ wunderkind, MBS, in the opening paragraph of his fawning masterpiece, “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, At Last”:

“I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style.

Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and, if it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe. Only a fool would predict its success — but only a fool would not root for it.” (New York Times)

“Reform”? Freidman thinks Salman’s tyrannical power-grab is “reform”?

Fortunately, there’s a group of people who strongly disagree with Friedman; Friedman’s own readers! That’s right, I picked through nearly all of the 664 comments on Friedman’s article at the Times website and, to my surprise, the vast majority of people think the jowly pundit is full of baloney. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Sorry, but just because Friedman, the perpetual insider and toady for the elite, spent four hours with the Crown Prince and his cronies is it hardly enough to persuade me that Saudi Arabia is going through an Arab Spring….” Agent Provocateur

“It will be an Arab spring in Saudi Arabia when it is a Saudi president or Prime Minister who wants to make the changes and not an autocratic, enlightened Saudi dictator, scion of Saudi dictators.” Joshua Schwartz

“So, I guess the wave of tolerance and progressivism comes after the complicity for mass-starvation and willing degradation of their neighbors to the South, Yemen?…. I’m a big fan Friedman, but this a bridge too far.” T yler

“Shame on you, Mr. Friedman. “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring,” indeed…” ALB

“Throwing your enemies in jail for corruption, tax evasion, etc without due process is standard procedure for totalitarian regimes.” joe barron

“The US is implicated in the biggest humanitarian crises in the world caused by Saudi bombing in Yemen (over 200K in danger of cholera death). We are seen as the providers of the bombs and war tools. MBS may be a reformer and that’s good but war crimes will lead to the instability and eventual fall of the House of Saud. The chaos and excessive violence (bombing of hospitals) doesn’t look good on anyone’s resume. I feel sorry for all parties. An unnecessary blood bath. A black eye for the US.” Laxman

“M.B.S is following the playbook of Saddam Husein. The same way Saddam brutally purged everyone else that could oppose him. Stalin did the same thing.Mr. Friedman was wrong on the Iraq war and he is wrong again here. He is glorifying the next Saddam in the region as a “reformer”. sal

“Will Saudi Arabia’s horrific record of human rights abuse continue? Yes, probably. Will death sentences for apostasy and adultery which are common continue? Yes probably. Will Corporal punishments including flogging and amputation continue at a time when more people than ever before are being beheaded? Yes probably. As will arbitrary arrests of dissenters and minorities, the curtailment of freedom of speech – continue? Yes probably…. I fear however that he has been seduced by smooth talking carpetbaggers.” George

“Lovely piece of pro-Saudi puffery in the classical NYT style; thanks, Thomas.” jon

“MBS is as corrupt as any other Saudi prince. Not even a year has passed since he bought a yacht for $400 million on an impulse from a Russian billionaire….MBS is a war criminal. His war with Yemen is at a genocidal stage with no end in sight. MBS’s reckless meddling with regional politics is a JV attempt to increase his stature while moving the region dangerously close to an all out war.

“While MBS has to try to sell this plot to his people, Mr. Friedman should know better that trying to sell it to us.” Shiveh

“Remember 9/11 and all the other funding of al Qaeda, ISIS, al Nusra, and the rest. Putin is not under your bed, but the Saudis fund terrorism.” Mark Thomason

“Once again Thomas Friedman accepts the words of an unelected undemocratic Monarch that “reform” is coming thru the illegal detention of hundreds of citizens. “Reform” is coming with the purchase of high tech weaponry from the Trump administration that will surely be used in the barbaric war against Yemen.

“Maybe it’s time the NY Times stop spending money sending Friedman to the Middle East where the only fruits of his efforts are columns of war mongering and fealty to the world’s worst regimes.” John Pearson-Denning

“In a distant past, “useful idiots” provided a thin intellectual cover for the Soviet Union. Now they seem to serve the Saudis. Thomas Freedman boundless enthusiasm for a dictator who speaks his ‘language’ is only matched by Trump’s effusive support for the Saudi system after they showered him with royal attention and flattery. Freedman consistently masquerades as a liberal while promoting neoliberal positions.” Eliseo

“Um, there is no ‘spring’ it is a power grab with some fake superficial modernizing aspects to appease the Trump administration.” Susan E

“A four hour bull session with a bunch of Saudi thugs is enough to convince Friedman of the legitimacy of their cause? Sorry sir, I don’t buy it.” ed kearney

“Throughout the years, I have read many super optimistic predictions of Mr. Friedman printed in this paper as an expert’ analysis. Frankly never before I have read one as overtly and embarrassingly ridiculous about an absolute dictatorial monarchy, which has been proven instrumental for current extremist Sunni Muslim terrorism including 9/11. Whichever US PR firm hired by Saudis for this write up in NYT deserves a refund.” kooshy

“He is consolidating power and eliminating rivals. Look for the future Saudi Arabia to be even more ruthless, corrupt and authoritarian.” Pa Ch

“Hanging previous regime elites upside down and having mercenaries beat them until they hand over their cash is NOT demonstrating tolerance. He’s showing us that he will be just another in a long line of autocratic tyrants who will enrich himself off Saudi oil.” Dave Cearley

“Friedman was a breathless cheerleader for the Iraq war, and is now paving the way for an Iran war.” Baddy Khan

“This is the same Tom Friedman who told us back in 2002 that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would create a pacific, secularist Iraq, some sort of Arab West Germany, and who later said that we’d have won the Iraq War when Salman Rushdie could give a lecture in Baghdad. Well, we know how all that turned out.” Jack Cerf

“An Arab spring that so far has 1 prince dead, another that has disappeared, 100s of people whose assets have been confiscated while they are locked up.

“Yup, sounds like an Arab Spring that’s going on without much objection from the NYT or other media here.

“Well done Mr. Friedman.” WestSider

“What a nauseating exercise in a…-kissing! Are you kidding me? The MBS coup and purge is more of a mafia-style settling of accounts than any “Spring! A corrupt princeling (remember the $500 million yacht”) moves pre-emptively to quell any attacks from his rivals. This ain’t no spring, Mr. Friedman!” Karim Pakravan

“Not one peep from Friedman about the carnage being visited upon Yemen by the “reform-minded” Saudi regime. Any bets on how long it takes before Friedman is advocating war on Iran?

“Autocrats and warmongers of the world: If you want to get your propaganda on the pages of the leading US newspaper, all it takes is treating the Times’s most gullible columnist to an extravagant dinner.” Vin

“How lightly, Mr. Friedman, you thread on the hundreds of thousands of Yemeni corpses who received death as a direct result of your interviewee’s policies…”Romain

“The Saudis are pursuing this incredibly vicious war on women and children in Yemen because the Houthis have the stink of Shi’ism on them. They are making trouble with Qatar because Qatar doesn’t hate Iran enough. How is this any kind of spring? How is this reform? This is a purge, plain and simple, by people who are perhaps the most out-of-touch royal family in the world. To call it an Arab Spring is an abomination.”

“I think this is a beautiful piece. For an infomercial.” GM

Does it look like anyone has been taken in by Friedman’s pathetic apologia for the clown prince?

Not really. And some readers have even figured out that Friedman’s real objective is not to gussy up Salman’s thuggish image, but to lay the groundwork for a war with Iran. That’s the real goal, more war.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Randal says:

    And some readers have even figured out that Friedman’s real objective is not to gussy up Salman’s thuggish image, but to lay the groundwork for a war with Iran.

    Indeed, though in the case of Friedman’s target demographics it’s perhaps more likely that they are criticising him precisely because they haven’t understood that his objective is to get up a US/Israeli/Saudi war against Iran.

    Did Friedman know that the object of his man-crush is a reprobate despot who, in the last year alone, oversaw the beheadings of over 150 people?

    Mind you, the mere fact of operating the death penalty is hardly a moral condemnation of a state (and if it were, Americans would have no room to criticise anyone).

    It’s a lock-down Wahhabist police state where women can be beaten on the streets for not complying with the strict dress-code.

    And while there’s no question that Saudi Arabia is a profoundly illiberal state, at least some of its illiberalness is aimed at defensible objectives, such as enforcing decency in public dress codes and policing public displays of sexual immorality. In the US the elite and even the state is increasingly illiberal in actual support of immorality itself, such as forcing people to pretend homosexual activity is normal, or illiberal for straightforwardly tyrannical purposes, such as condoning beatings and silencing of political dissidents seen as “racist”, and seeking to impose silence on critics of Israel by law.

    Simply put, modern America has few grounds for presenting itself as morally superior.

  2. Friedman says; “The United States unleashed holy hell on [Germany], killed over a million of its people, destroyed one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and left the country in a smoldering pile of rubble. But in Freidman’s mind [it is likely that] the war was “one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted.”

    Oh wait, he didn’t say “Germany” he said “Iraq”.

    One commenter says, “So, I guess the wave of tolerance and progressivism comes after the complicity for mass-starvation and willing degradation of …[innocent German civilians]?

    What he really said was “Yemen”, not “innocent German civilians”?

    Another commenter says, “The US is implicated in the biggest humanitarian crises in the world caused by [Allied bombing in Germany] [with] over 200K in danger of cholera death. We are seen as the providers of the bombs and war tools…….The chaos and excessive violence (bombing of hospitals) doesn’t look good on anyone’s resume. I feel sorry for all parties. An unnecessary blood bath. A black eye for the US.”

    And they said “Saudi bombing in Yemen”, not “Allied bombing in Germany”

    Bombing innocent civilians, hospitals, infrastructure, causing mass outbreaks of cholera…..What’s new? This is who we are. We perfected mass murder of innocents in the deliberate fire bombing of innocuous, non-strategic German suburbs in WW2. We and the British deliberately designed bombing sequences so as to maximize the likelihood of a hellish inferno, destroying the historically irreplaceable old medieval center squares in virtually every German city and town–targeted precisely because they were built of wood and would readily ignite and so fuel the conflagration.

    We are masters at aerial mass murder. We applied every scientific tool we had to develop and perfect the Art. And if we were willing to completely abandon the Geneva Convention regarding “extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”* and The Hague convention regarding “attack or bombardment of undefended towns or habitations”* when it came to incinerating our brothers, sisters and cousins, the Germans, then why should any of us be surprised that the United States has no qualms about murdering or supporting the murder of Yemenis?

    *Quotes on from Wikipedia

    All words in brackets are my substitutions, obviously. It’s sobering to see how well the charges read without a hitch.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    , @Ash
  3. Randal says:

    This is who we are. We perfected mass murder of innocents in the deliberate fire bombing of innocuous, non-strategic German suburbs in WW2. We and the British deliberately designed bombing sequences so as to maximize the likelihood of a hellish inferno, destroying the historically irreplaceable old medieval center squares in virtually every German city and town–targeted precisely because they were built of wood and would readily ignite and so fuel the conflagration.

    We are masters at aerial mass murder. We applied every scientific tool we had to develop and perfect the Art.

    Yes, this is all true. And it leaves out by some measures the worst charges, by not mentioning Japan and the fire and atomic bombings there.

    Our only honest defence is that it was them or us, at least in the case of Germany (Japan was a much weaker and less threatening opponent and was really a matter only of strategic rivalry between the US and Japan over what was more Japan’s backyard than the US’s).

    There is, of course, no excuse whatsoever in the case of the abominable US-enabled Saudi war on Yemeni children.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
  4. @ThreeCranes

    My mistake. Whitney says, not “Friedman says”, though it’s about Friedman.

  5. @Randal

    And don’t forget napalming the countryside in Vietnam, where we updated our skills.

    Historical evidence shows that U.S. and British aerial attacks increased during the last four months of the war when the German Luftwaffe was non-existent and the Army, manned as often as not by teenagers and Grandpas, was fighting a defensive rear guard action. Because all major cities had been bombed to rubble, the Allies targeted non-strategic cities and towns, mass murdering civilians.

    The Germans beat the British Army fairly on the ground in a man-to-man fight. So British high command responding by murdering the German soldier’s families. Quaint notions of honor disappeared. Once having made a pact with the Devil, the USA and Britain have been on the same trajectory since.

    • Replies: @Randal
  6. Randal says:

    I don’t see this as a case of Britain and the US being unusually bad (unusually powerful in the early-mid C20th, yes). Rather, it’s a case of war being hell. Point me to a significant power in human history that has engaged in meaningful warfare against a genuine threat, and I’ll show you a power that has used mass murder and/or terrorism in various forms.

    The rational response imo is simply to reserve war wherever possible strictly for necessary self defence – and the failure to do that is what makes the neocons and the “humanitarian” interventionists a problem.

  7. There is no freedom for women in Saudi Arabia, hence Saudi women have children, and continue their race. There is freedom for women in the US, hence Whites are becoming a minority in their own country, and may well not continue their race. So what value is this female “freedom” anyway?

  8. “The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia.”

    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a footstep: Then again, sometimes a footstep is just a footstep.

  9. Anonymous [AKA "Money Talks"] says:

    Its also been reported in the past that KSA spends a lot of money making sure they get favorable coverage in the media. When one pictures a newspaper columnist, the picture in mind is from an old black and white movie of a guy with a floppy hat and a chewed cigar in his mouth feerlessly taking on the powerful. But that picture is very, very wrong for a millionaire like Tom Freidman. Freidman has happily supported the deaths of millions of people since he’s never met a war he doesn’t like. Here’s what Alternet reported on his wealth, keeping in mind that this is now four years old data. I can’t say I’m surprised that a millionaire pundit for hire is happily supporting the world’s biggest human rights abuser who happens to have a lot of oil and big piles of money.

    “Friedman is married to real estate heiress Ann Bucksbaum, and lives in a “palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel” near the Bethesda Country Club (Washingtonian, 7/1/06).

    Like most media figures, Friedman’s compensation is not reported. But by one relatively outdated account (Washingtonian, 7/1/06), “His speaking fee recently passed $50,000; with his Times salary, syndication rights, and royalties from his bestselling books, his annual income easily reaches seven figures.”

    Some of Friedman’s extracurricular employment has caused controversy. In 2009, the Times public editor (5/24/09) noted that Friedman’s acceptance of a $75,000 speaking fee from a California government agency violated company guidelines.”

  10. Ash says:

    Well, yes, but the Germans did start the war, so they weren’t innocent. And it was the Germans that started with the bombings of cities using incendiaries, like Coventry, in 1940. The Iraqis and the Yemenis, unlike the Germans, didn’t start these wars. But yeah, the US is very good, and unflinching, at killing massive numbers of civilians.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    , @ThreeCranes
  11. nebulafox says:

    “Reform”? Freidman thinks Salman’s tyrannical power-grab is “reform”?

    Loathe as I am to agree with **anything** Friedman says, yes. In the context of Saudi politics and culture, Mohammed bin Salman is indeed the reformer/good guy when it comes to domestic policy. (Foreign policy is a little different-I don’t think he’s as impulsive as the house liberals at the New York Times seem to, given how throughly he planned the purges, but I do agree that it is disturbing when Bibi Netanyahu becomes the relative voice of restraint regarding Iran in the tacit Saudi-Israeli axis.) The Crown Prince is 32 years old, and knows very well that he can’t kick the can down the road, or even rule like the children of Ibn Saud did in a power sharing method. It was an audacious gamble to try and purge the Wahabbi judiciary and other branches of the clan simultaneously in order to become a one-man show, but he seems to have succeeded. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the Kingdom next.

    Having said that, I have no doubt that what Friedman and his ilk really want us to do is serve as Saudi/Israeli human resources for Operation IRANIAN FREEDOM, once again massively screwing the US in the name of wooly eyed ideology, so I’ll just call him right by accident.

  12. Hey, the customer is always right. This customer just bought the biggest weapons cache yet from western munitions corporations, brokered by their governments. Jobs, jobs, jobs, don’t ya know and the stock market loves it. Where else was the money owed to come from, if not through a domestic shakedown?

  13. @Ash

    And it was the Germans that started with the bombings of cities using incendiaries, like Coventry

    Erm, no. You can trace the history of the bombing campaign in Human Smoke. Britain was in a bad place in 1940 and was bombing German cities that were not military targets. Hitler repeatedly warned Britain to stop or there would be reprisals. Churchill KNEW about the impending bombing and did not warn the people of Coventry so as to maximize death as well as destruction. (Warning would have let the Nazis know that the British knew about their plans…) drawing attention away from military targets to places like Coventry did provide some breathing room for the British.

    Churchill was restrained in using bombing of civilians until Rotterdam was flattened by the Nazis. (the author makes the case that this was unintended by them, as the city had agreed to surrender.) he then unleashed civilian bombing campaigns, like he had been given license to do so by Hitler.

    I can highly recommend Human Smoke for giving the “lived experience” of how these decisions came about in real time.

    • Replies: @Ash
  14. @Ash

    “the Germans did start the war” but they didn’t start THE WAR. France and England did when they chose to make a border dispute between continental-powers Germany and Poland their business.

    Incidentally, Poland, Prussian Germany and Russia had been pushing back and forth for centuries and the result was not a world conflagration; igniting that took the combined cupidity and stupidity of England’s and France’s ruling classes.

    • Replies: @Ash
  15. Ash says:

    If you want to trace the history of bombing campaigns in WWII you can start with the German invasion of Poland and the Luftwaffe’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians, including the use of incendiaries.

    The first bombing by Germany to kill civilians in Britain was at a Scapa Flow navy yard in March of 1940. Up until that point the Germans had been careful not to bomb anywhere that might kill British civilians, mostly out of fear of reprisals. Then in early May the Germans started bombing French cities. It was immediately after this that the RFA bombed Mönchengladbach near the Dutch border, killing some German civilians. A few days later was the bombing of Rotterdam (and how exactly do you unintentionally bomb a city into rubble?), and then the gloves came off. So yes, Hitler I suppose did give Churchill license to bomb Germany, something the British had been unwilling to do initially. Clearly Germany started both the war and the bombing of civilians in that war.

    Human Smoke has an agenda and is very selective. Interesting read, but not good objective history.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  16. Ash says:

    A border dispute? They invaded a weak Poland and occupied it. Hardly a “border dispute between continental powers.” Was the occupation of Czechoslovakia also a border dispute?

    According to your logic Germany should have been able to invade any and all the countries it wanted and Britain and France should have just accepted it in order not to get into a war. That’s not how European great power politics worked. Hitler knew that invading Poland might force the Allies to take action since France was a longtime committed ally, and Britain had just signed on to defend Poland as well. The truth is that French and British failure to immediately launch an invasion of Germany while its military was mostly occupied in the east was probably the stupidest thing they did (but apparently they didn’t feel they were ready for war yet).

    Germany most certainly started THE WAR.

  17. No, you’re wrong. France and then England declared war on Germany.

    Again, European border disputes had been going on for a thousand years before France and England turned what would have been a regional war into a world war. They should have played their cards more intelligently and left the Nazi’s alone to deal with Stalin’s Soviet Union. As it turned out, Britain and France hadn’t the power, post WW2, to contain the Soviet Union. They were delusional, fooling themselves with visions of self-aggrandizing grandeur. Had it not been for the entry of the USA, the heroic Germans may well have pulled it off and not only spared Eastern Europe from communist occupation but emancipated the people of Russia from cruel Soviet bondage.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  18. @Ash

    Your point is well taken about Nazi atrocities against non-Western civilians. One shudders to read Generalplan OST.

    From here:
    We get “It has been claimed that the bombing of Frampol was an experiment as according to Polish historians Pawel Puzio and Ryszard Jasinski it had no targetable industry and no military units were stationed there.” I would agree that this was an illegitimate military target; of course, the Nazis used different rules for people who couldn’t fight back.

    Casualties at Scapa Flow and Mönchengladbach of civilians were what we breezily call collateral damage. No civilian was targeted qua civilian. Like Pearl Harbor, they were legitimate military targets. As was Rotterdam, with bombing meant to support the objective of taking the city and its port. I say unintentional because the objective of taking the city had been achieved before the bombs landed with its surrender, but after the bombers were launched. Apparently the commander in the ground tried to signal the bombers to turn back and was unsuccessful.

    Churchill’s response to Rotterdam was to bomb inside Germany, with an intriguing motive: “I have examined today with the War Cabinet and all the experts the request which you made to me last night and this morning for further fighter squadrons. We are all agreed that it is better to draw the enemy on to this Island by striking at his vitals, and thus to aid the common cause.” He intended to sacrifice civilians to aid the war effort.

    La Wik continues: “Despite the British attacks on German cities, the Luftwaffe did not begin to attack military and economic targets in the UK until six weeks after the campaign in France was concluded.” … “Hermann Göring’s general order, issued on 30 June 1940, stated:

    The war against England is to be restricted to destructive attacks against industry and air force targets which have weak defensive forces. … The most thorough study of the target concerned, that is vital points of the target, is a pre-requisite for success. It is also stressed that every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary loss of life amongst the civilian population.”

    Further comments in the file about Hitler prohibiting initiation of terror attacks on Britain, etc.

    The book Human Smoke is written largely to demythologize the monster Churchill. I don’t think anyone can legitimize Nazi terror. What was fascinating was how democratic governments moved step by step to the idea of legitimately targeting and killing civilians; I expect that mindset of totalitarians, but not us, the “good guys.”

    Most fascinating is that Churchill’s tactics worked, if probably not how he intended. In Tribe, Junger talks about how attacks on civilians in London strengthened their resolve to fight on, improving British morale. The British psychologists who observed this actually warned against terror bombing Germans for fear it might (as it did) provoke the same response in them.

  19. @ThreeCranes

    Do read Generalplan OST. The Nazis treated Danish and French civilians as if they were human. Poles, somewhat. The only emancipation they planned for Russians was the grave.

    That notwithstanding, Poland would have been far better off without a fake British war guarantee, and negotiating with Nazi Germany to cede largely-German areas while its cities, civilians, and Jews were left intact.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
  20. @TomSchmidt

    Tom, I’m looking at my Rand McNally Atlas of World History. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Germany controlled a huge chunk of what is today, Poland. And Poland controlled a huge chunk of what is today, Russia. Poland extended east to the Dnieper River. Today, Poland has move west. Germany’s loss was Russia’s gain. While we all take turns bashing Hitler, Russia consolidates their gains in the West. Which is exactly what Hitler was warning Europe against all the time.

    Hitler was a Romantic, an Artist and a Visionary. He wanted to restore Germany to its former greatness at the time of the Holy Roman Empire. He said as much repeatedly. He certainly had no interest in conquering England or France. The guy was a dreamer and he dreamt of a future that recreated the glories of the past.

    I’m not an adoring fan of Adolf Hitler, but virtually everything we’ve been told about him is so exaggerated and distorted that our understanding of him is basically worthless–literally worth less than nothing.

    Take the notion of Aryan superiority as an example. Popularly, we are told that the German’s regarded themselves as “Supermen” and the rest of humanity as, in varying degrees, underlings who were expendable if sacrificed in service of a higher cultural good. This is horsefeathers. To understand Hitler you must understand Nietzsche, Marx and Hegel.

    Hegel said that one mode of human relations is that of the Master/Slave. Now take an immigrant who has recently moved to America and who is a net consumer of public welfare. They receive section 8 housing, EBT card etc. Their presence here establishes a master/slave relation with Americans. On the one hand, they are slaves. They are incapable of standing on their own two feet. They depend on Americans for their subsistence. They are “helpless”. They are not independent men and as slaves are dependent upon the largesse of their independent masters.

    But on the other, hand they are Masters. They force Americans to work for them. Americans must labor to feed them, clothe and educate their children and so on.

    The framers of the Constitution didn’t want to enshrine Master/Slave relations in America. There was to be a fresh start in which all persons were independent, stood on their own two feet. Every article in the Bill of Rights presupposes this. Not merely freedom as license, but freedom as independence i.e. powerful, capable, effective, purposeful humans who could fend for themselves.

    Now, back to the Germans. This latter view is how they saw themselves. As Masters of their own Fates. Not helpless slaves. Not ruled by superstition but by science. Not believing in magic and voodoo but in transformative self reliance. And, compared to Africans and Arabs and West Indies islanders and stone-age people of New Guiana, who would care to argue that the Germans were not correct? They were Masterful in the Goethe-Faustian sense.

    The prevailing simplistic, propagandistic notions of German belief in their own superiority should be set aside. We should see them as we would see ourselves, a proud capable people who had freed themselves from the shackles of superstition and passive ignorance. That’s all that the “Superman” means. He is literally the man enshrined in the American constitution.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  21. @ThreeCranes

    An interesting explanation of Master race, ThreeCranes. Thanks for taking the time to explain it.

    I’m currently reading Frankopan’s Silk Roads history of the world. We went through the early 20th century when British jealousy of Russia and fear of its expansion into and conquest of India had it constantly worried. The solution the Brits had was to turn Russian interests towards Europe, sacrificing Germany and Austria Hungary so they could hold onto their blessed Asian empire.

    World War 2 is interesting, since the author, a Brit, doesn’t adopt the reflexively superior air of British authors towards the Germans (see Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and the Rest, wherein he seems to believe that the Germans were uniquely horrible as imperialists. Frankopan is rather scathing towards British actions in India starving millions.) He presents the resource challenges of Nazi Germany at war, explaining how the Soviets fed the Germans and supplied them with oil. I’m now in 1941, and the Germans had invaded specifically after the wheat was sown and before the harvest so they could capture the surpluses of southern Ukraine and Russia. Sadly for them, they got less grain from the conquered territories than they had acquired in trade with the Soviets in 1940 and early 1941.

    That Stalin might have eventually been a threat and conquered territory in Poland and perhaps Germany is possible. But read Frankopan if you want to get a grasp on how completely clueless and vicious the Nazi policies were towards Slavs and Russia. The Soviets might have sent a raping army into Eastern Europe and Germany, but they did not starve out Germans the way that Nazi policy targeted Slavs and specifically Russians.

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