Get Smart: Of Mice, Men, Saudi Arabia And A Trained Chimp Named Tom Friedman


It’s hard to believe that there is a dumber chimpanzee, in the forest, the zoo, or on the New York Times op-ed page, than Thomas “Chimpy”Friedman. Over the years, this brainless dimwit has enthralled us all on topics ranging from globalization to the connection between McDonald’s and war to climate change.

But to truly appreciate Chimpy, one should, if you have a taste for masochism, read a series of columns the Pulitzer Prize-winning gasbag has been writing about “reform” in Saudi Arabia. In one, published a few days ago and illustrated with the comforting image below, Chimpy led with this:

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.

To better understand it I flew to Riyadh to interview the crown prince, known as “M.B.S.,” who had not spoken about the extraordinary events here of early November, when his government arrested scores of Saudi princes and businessmen on charges of corruption and threw them into a makeshift gilded jail — the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton — until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains. You don’t see that every day.

Yes, only a fool, or a trained chimp like Tom Friedman, could be led around on a leash by the Saudi government (and surely its Washington lobbyists and PR agents) and end up rooting for a non-existent “Arab Spring” in Riyadh.

The World Is Flat. Indeed.

But there’s more. A few weeks earlier Chimpy appeared on CNBC’s aptly-titled “Squawk Box,” which can be read about in this story, under the headline, “We’re seeing four revolutions at once in Saudi Arabia:

There’s a revolution happening in Saudi Arabia that could change the kingdom forever, said Thomas Friedman.

“We’re seeing the end of the Saudi ruling family” as the world has come to know it, Friedman said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” after the Saturday arrests of four ministers and 11 Saudi princes, including well-known billionaire investor Alwaleed bin Talal. They were detained as part of what was called an anti-corruption purge, in the latest dramatic steps undertaken by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

Earlier on CNBC, Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during George W. Bush’s presidency, put the weekend roundup in the kingdom through a U.S. lens. “This would be like arresting Warren Buffett or Bill Gates.” Jordan also questioned whether the arrests were a play by MBS to consolidate his power.

While I’d like to see Buffett and Gates arrested and tried for their crimes, unlike Jordan, I have to side with him here against Chimpy. It’s too obvious to spend much time on, but the Saudi “reform” program being hailed by Friedman is quite apparently the cover for a political crackdown.
Sure, the Saudi officials being arrested might be corrupt — they’d almost have to be — but the idea that Chimpy’s beloved “MBS” is a political reformer is too ludicrous to take seriously. The official “anti-corruption” committee that is behind these moves was inaugurated one afternoon and had made arrests by nightfall.
Next thing you know Chimpy will be hailing MBS’s beheadings of political enemies — and that is as predictable as snowfall at the North Pole — as further evidence of a new Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia literally can’t buy any more favorable coverage.
Oh, wait, it did.


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