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Thomas Friedman is a respected American journalist known for his articles for the New York Times. He has written extensively on topics relating globalization, the Middle East and environmental issues. His 2008 book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, stresses the importance of the United States embracing clean energy and Green technologies.

In an op-ed piece for the Times last Saturday (September 19th, 2009) Friedman argues that American bravado and tough guy talk needn’t be backed up by military force in order to be effective. In fact, in this time of confusion and questions as to why coalition forces are actually in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, or if there is any hope in achieving whatever goals they may have in being there, non military strategies are simply not being pursued. The number one tactic, according to Thomas Friedman, is energy independence, citing France’s use of nuclear power and Denmark’s carbon tax and energy efficiency investments (as well as the discovery of North Sea oil) as successful examples.

Friedman argues that America is more willing to send soldiers to their deaths and stay in long, drawn out wars with vague goals and uncertain outcomes than pay a $1 tax (presumably per gallon) on fuel. He presents this almost as a panacea, which would fund healthcare, reduce emissions, stimulate the market for renewable energy and cut oil imports, thereby strengthening the dollar. But American politicians are unwilling to consider such a move.

In my opinion, this is partly because requisite political change in America is currently held hostage by a strange combination of powerful corporate interests and populist tactics from the far right which have had some success through the sensationalist segments of the American media. (See the popular “tea party” video for evidence). In a time of war, environmental catastrophe, and economic instability, where strong political action is needed, there is a glaring lack of political will in America. After all, like universal health care, raising or adding taxes is “socialist”, “communist” or “fascist”, while anything to do with the military is sacrosanct. Funny how a vociferous crowd motivated by greed, paranoia and hate can have more sway over a popularly elected government than good sense, an urgent need for sustainability, peace and patriotic self sacrifice.

Read Thomas Friedman’s article here