Three days after first published, this column by Thomas Friedman is still among the NYTimes’ most emailed stories. I’ve had it on my shelf since then, thought its time might have passed, but the fact that it’s still in such strong circulation made it the perfect candidate for yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s post no. 400 at this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.
In all the noise of an endless political season, Friedman discerns a message that obviously resonates with his audience.
Who Will Tell the People?
Op-Ed Columnist | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN | Published: May 4, 2008
Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.
They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil.