Friedman: 3 rivers feed Arab rage

Renowned columnist Thomas Friedman said Sunday he was “52-49” in favor of a U.S. war with Iraq.

Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist for foreign policy, addressed an audience in the USF Special Events Center.

“It is the right thing to do if we can do it right,” Friedman said. “I hope there is a peaceful solution, but if not, I hope we can do the right thing.”

Friedman compared the potential outcome of the war to a sealed black box that contains one of two envelopes for the future of the Arab nation. In the first envelope, the Arab nation, once freed from its rulers, can become a decent society. In the second envelope, a nation such as Yugoslavia with many different hostile factions that have to be controlled with an iron fist could be found.

The lecture, sponsored by the USF Globalization Research Center , dealt with globalization and incorporated Sept.11, 2001, and the Iraq situation.

“I have argued since 9/11 that 9/11 is the beginning of World War III,” Friedman said.

Friedman began the lecture by breaking down the causes of Sept.11, 2001, in a broad sense. He said he believes that with each conflict between the world of disorder and the world of order, a transition brings a new bipolar system. The United States, Europe, Russia, India and China make up the world of order, while the world of disorder consists of North Korea, Iraq, Colombia, Indonesia and Palestine, among others.

“The divides between the world of order and the world of disorder are very seamless,” Friedman said.

He said the terrorist groups are energized by the anger that surrounds them in the disorder.

“The anger of the 9/11 hijackers was fed by three rivers of passion and rage and feeling,” Friedman said.

The three-river analogy breaks down the cause for conflict and anger in the world. The first river is built through anger about what the United States and Israel do in foreign policy. The United States’ oil investments and needs get in the way of any criticism of the Middle East.

“It is our dependence on the Middle East oil that keeps us from telling the truth,” Friedman said.

The second river is humiliation, as the Middle East is behind in development. The river flows through the poverty of dignity, where the people do not have the freedom to choose their own leaders. The third river is rage against Middle Eastern leaders, who typically put themselves in power instead of being elected.

“It is not about the poverty of money; it is the poverty of dignity,” Friedman said. “You get really get mad when someone tries to shame you.”

Friedman said, in our current war on terrorism, in order to make things right, we have to set an example as a progressive nation that Arab states could look up to.

“If we want people to be with us on our war, we need to be the best global citizens we can be,” Friedman said.

Contact Britta Clark at