How Thomas Friedman Distorts Realities in Egypt, Pakistan, and India by Amith Gupta in Jadaliyya

Writers such as Gyanendra Pandey have noted that despite the systematic nature of Indian state’s violence against its Muslim minority, such violence is always deceptively depicted as an aberration, “aberration in the sense that violence is seen as something removed from the general run of Indian history: a distorted form, an exceptional moment, not the “real” history of India at all.” This is a fitting commentary on Friedman’s own whitewash of the history of India. This is, of course, not to mention India’s short stint as a dictatorship, from 1975-1977, when Indian leader Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, jailed political opponents, dramatically limited freedom of the press, and began a campaign of forced sterilization against the poor—following a court ruling that she had broken the law during her election. Furthermore, there is India’s declaration of war against jungle tribes within India itself: peoples that have been dispossessed and robbed of their lands, only to be massacred by helicopter gunships as they try desperately to resist. Nevertheless, Friedman somehow manages to ignore these glaring problems in favor of highlighting a token Muslim appointee as proof of Indian cosmopolitanism.

Such omissions are only the beginning of Friedman’s absurd musings. He asks if Egypt, under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, might become like Pakistan, opting for strict military rule and intolerance against minorities. In the process of posing and exploring the question, he makes another glaring omission: the role of the United States. In both Pakistan and Egypt, US policy has been a major determinant in the outcome of internal power struggles, especially those which concern military-civilian relations. Pakistan did not become a militarized (near-failed) state without the active intervention of the United States. A major Cold War ally against the non-aligned India, the United States backed Pakistan with billions of dollars in military aid since its founding in order to contain the alleged threat of communism. This carried over and was intensified during the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.

The massive and unbalanced aid flow to Pakistan’s military establishment has resulted in the weakening of Pakistan’s civilian institutions, creating a nuclear military power that can and does ignore the rule of law with the blessing of heavy US support. In the process, the United States has enriched a core of Pakistani military officers who have used the billions of dollars to fund various pet projects, while preventing any serious oversight from the Pakistani civilian government. This continues even as Pakistan’s military and intelligence services back al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. There should be no doubt that the United States has underwritten the Pakistani military’s domineering, lawless hand in Pakistan’s domestic affairs so as to quell any real or alleged threats from other regional powers.


Thank you and shukriya for proving that Friedman will always be a God damn idiot. Read this.