Thomas L. Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

Thomas L.
Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman
1953

American Journalist, Columnist and Multiple Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Author Quotes

America needs rebooting.

That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.

The second lesson I learned from journalism is that being a good listener is one of the great keys to life. My friend and colleague, Bob Schieffer of CBS News used to say to me, "The biggest stories I missed as a journalist happened because I was talking when I should have been listening." The ability to be a good listener is one of the most under-appreciated talents a person or a country can have. People often ask me how I, an American Jew, have been able operate in the Arab/Muslim world for 20 years, and my answer to them is always the same. The secret is to be a good listener. It has never failed me. You can get away with really disagreeing with people as long as you show them the respect of really listening to what they have to say and taking it into account when and if it makes sense. Indeed, the most important part of listening is that it is a sign of respect. It's not just what you hear by listening that is important. It is what you say by listening that is important. It's amazing how you can diffuse a whole roomful of angry people by just starting your answer to a question with the phrase, "You're making a legitimate point" or "I hear what you say" and really meaning it. Never underestimate how much people just want to feel that they have been heard, and once you have given them that chance they will hear you.

Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months — probably sooner — whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're going to have to just let this play out.

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century—when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all—and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention argues that no two countries that are both part of the same global supply chain will ever fight a war as long as they are each part of that supply chain.

The simple definition of globalization is the interweaving of markets, technology, information systems, and telecommunications networks in a way that is shrinking the world from a size medium to a size small. It began decades ago, but accelerated dramatically over the past 10 years, as the price of computing power fell and the world became an ever-more densely interconnected place. People resist this shift — see, for example, the G8 protests of 2001 (one of the bloodiest uprisings in recent European history) or the recent rioting in Pittsburgh at this year’s G20 conference—because they think it primarily benefits big business elites to the detriment of everyone else. But globalization didn’t ruin the world—it just flattened it. And on balance that can benefit everyone, especially the poor. Globalization has pulled millions of people out of poverty in India and China, and multiplied the size of the global middle class. It has raised the global standard of living faster than that at any other time in the history of the world, and it is supporting astounding growth. All world economic activity was valued at $7 trillion in 1950. That’s equal to how much growth took place over just the past decade, even including the recent downturn. Whatever people’s fears of change, globalization is here to stay—and, if properly managed, it will be a good thing.

We're at the beginning of, I think, the decisive, I would say, six months in Iraq, OK, because I feel like this election — you know, I felt from the beginning Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of it.

You take one bomber and deploy him in Baghdad, and another is manufactured in Riyadh the next day. It’s exactly like when you take the toy off the shelf at Wal-Mart and another is made in Shen Zhen the next day.

The fact is, parents and schools and cultures can and do shape people. The most important influence in my life, outside of my family, was my high school journalism teacher, Hattie M. Steinberg. She pounded the fundamentals of journalism into her students -- not simply how to write a lead or accurately transcribe a quote but, more important, how to comport yourself in a professional way. She was nearing sixty at the time I had her as my teacher and high school newspaper adviser in the late 1960s. She was the polar opposite of cool, but we hung around her classroom like it was the malt shop and she was Wolfman Jack. None of us could have articulated it then, but it was because we enjoyed being harangued by her, disciplined by her, and taught by her. She was a woman of clarity and principles in an age of uncertainty. I sit up straight just thinking about her!

There is no future in vanilla for most companies in a flat world. A lot of vanilla making in software and other areas is going to shift to open-source communities.

We've teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together.

You win the presidency by connecting with the American people's gut insecurities and aspirations. You win with a concept. The concept I'd argue for is "neoliberalism." More Americans today are natural neolibs, than neocons. Neoliberals believe in a muscular foreign policy and a credible defense budget, but also a prudent fiscal policy that balances taxes, deficit reduction and government services.

The fact that no two major countries have done to war since they both got McDonald’s is partly due to economic integration, but it is also due to the presence of American power and America’s willingness to use that power against those who would threaten the system of globalization–from Iraq to North Korea. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist.[...] McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the US Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. And these fighting forces and institutions are paid for by American taxpayer dollars.

There is no substitute for face-to-face reporting and research.

What do poor people need most that we could sell them? You cannot design this stuff in Palo Alto; you have to co-create with the user-customer beneficiary.

Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists.

The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.

There’s a difference between being able to make long distance phone calls cheaper on the Internet and walking around Riyadh with a PDA where you can have all of Google in your pocket. It’s a difference in degree that’s so enormous it becomes a difference in kind.

What I absolutely don't understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of — I know a lot of these guys — reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it's over. I don't get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what's the rush? Can we let this play out, please?

Reading Europe's press, it is really reassuring to see how warmly Europeans have embraced President Bush's formulation that an "axis of evil" threatens world peace. There's only one small problem. President Bush thinks the axis of evil is Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and the Europeans think it's Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice.

The Golden Straitjacket is the defining political-economic garment of globalization. […] The tighter you wear it, the more gold it produces.

They all need to go on safari together.

What the flattening of the world means is that we are now connecting all the knowledge centers on the planet together into a single global network.

Rock stars get room keys, I get business cards.

Author Picture
First Name
Thomas L.
Last Name
Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman
Birth Date
1953
Bio

American Journalist, Columnist and Multiple Pulitzer Prize Winning Author