Thomas L. Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

Thomas L.
Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

American Journalist, Columnist and Multiple Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Author Quotes

America needs rebooting.

With Saddam rattled, now is the time to really rattle his cage: Turn up the volume on Radio Free Iraq to extra loud and call for his ouster 24 hours a day: ”All Saddam, all the time.” Take steps to have Saddam declared a war criminal by the U.N. Blow up a different power station in Iraq every week, so no one knows when the lights will go off or who’s in charge. Offer a reward for removing Saddam from office. Use every provocation by Saddam to blow up another Iraqi general’s home.

Sometimes, when my wife and I were going out to dinner, I would take my laptop with me and work in the car, so as to take advantage of the half hour going and coming.

The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed.

We need to send the message that anyone who orders suicide bombings against Americans, or protects those who do, commits suicide himself. And U.S. marines will search every cave in Afghanistan to make that principle stick. You order, you die — absolutely, positively, you die.

Yes, the world is now flat for publishing as well.

Sooner or later, Mr. Bush argued, sanctions would force Mr. Hussein's generals to bring him down, and then Washington would have the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein.

The only thing I am certain of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis make of it — and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain guardedly hopeful.

We needed to go over there, basically, and take out a very big stick right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble.… What they [Muslims] needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad and basically saying "Which part of this sentence don't you understand? You don't think we care about our open society? You think this bubble fantasy, we're just going to let it grow? Well, suck on this!" That, Charlie, is what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia! It was part of that bubble. We could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

You can be a rich person alone. You can be a smart person alone. But you cannot be a complete person alone. For that you must be part of, and rooted in, an olive grove. This truth was once beautifully conveyed by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner in his interpretation of a scene from Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude: Márquez tells of a village where people were afflicted with a strange plague of forgetfulness, a kind of contagious amnesia. Starting with the oldest inhabitants and working its way through the population, the plague causes people to forget the names of even the most common everyday objects. One young man, still unaffected, tries to limit the damage by putting labels on everything. This is a table, This is a window, This is a cow; it has to be milked every morning. And at the entrance to the town, on the main road, he puts up two large signs. One reads the name of our village is Macondo, and the larger one reads God exists. The message I get from that story is that we can, and probably will, forget most of what we have learned in life—the math, the history, the chemical formulas, the address and phone number of the first house we lived in when we got married—and all that forgetting will do us no harm. But if we forget whom we belong to, and if we forget that there is a God, something profoundly human in us will be lost.

Supply chains cannot tolerate even 24 hours of disruption. So if you lose your place in the supply chain because of wild behavior you could lose a lot. It would be like pouring cement down one of your oil wells.

The poverty fighters resent the climate-change folks; climate folks hold summits without reference to biodiversity; the food advocates resist the biodiversity protectors.

We reward risk taking. Our university system is competitive and experimental.

You can't bet your whole life on some destination. You've got to make the journey work too. And that is why I leave you with some wit and wisdom attributed to Mark Twain: Always work like you don't need the money. Always fall in love like you've never been hurt. Always dance like nobody is watching. And always -- always -- live like it's heaven on earth.

That is why I introduced the idea that the world has gone from round to flat. Everywhere you turn, hierarchies are being challenged from below or transforming themselves from top-down structure into more horizontal and collaborative ones.

The saying in China is If you're one in a million, there's still 1,300 people just like you.

We’ve been here before. Each century, as we push out the frontiers of human knowledge, work at every level becomes more complex, requiring more pattern recognition and problem solving.

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?

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 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 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.

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

American Journalist, Columnist and Multiple Pulitzer Prize Winning Author