Thomas Friedman Remains Rather Smitten with Authoritarianism

by John Tamny
The American Institute for Economic Research

“We argue that the high point for Western government, at least comparatively, was the 1960s when America was racing to put a man on the moon and millions of Chinese were dying of starvation.” So said John Micklethwait about his new book (co-authored with Adrian Wooldridge) to a plainly enthusiastic Thomas Friedman. It’s just a guess, but Micklethwait’s assertion won’t age well.

Really, does even he believe it? That Friedman does is no surprise. In Friedman’s world, one “country’s” gain occurs at the expense of other countries. The latter explains Friedman’s routine laments over the years about China supposedly moving way ahead of the U.S. on the green energy/environmental front. Missed by the New York Times columnist is that in a world broadly defined by open shipping lanes, that same world happily shrinks daily in a figurative sense. Though most of us don’t live in Cupertino or Seattle, it’s as though Apple and Amazon are next door to us. Notable here is that Apple sells 1/5th of its iPhones in China, which is a reminder that for the Chinese, Cupertino similarly seems local as far as businesses go.

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