The Tom takes a stab at being an expert on Iran today. Being an expert on so many other things–the economy, the environment and military adventurism–who could blame him? For Friedman its like choosing nail polish.
Here he gets to the heart of the problem in the Middle East without all of those hang-ups about root causes and annoying stuff like information.
…in most Middle East states, power grows out of the barrel of a gun and out of a barrel of oil — and that combination is very hard to overthrow.
Oil is a key reason that democracy has had such a hard time emerging in the Middle East, except in one of the few states with no oil: Lebanon. Because once kings and dictators seize power, they can entrench themselves, not only by imprisoning their foes and killing their enemies, but by buying off their people and using oil wealth to build huge internal security apparatuses.”
Of course, almost all of the states that he is referencing also have very warm relationships with the United States, which has always been quite fond of “gun-grown” power as long as the oil flows and the power tilts westward. Interestingly, countries like Lebanon and Iran which have faced constant meddling from the US and have suffered greatly for shrugging off the US autocratic template are the only countries where democracy has ever had a chance.
More to the point, I’ll ask the question I always ask when Friedman comes up. How in the hell does this guy still have a job?