America's leading observer of the international scene on the minute-by-minute events of September 11th--before, during and after
As the Foreign Affairs columnist for the The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman is in a unique position to interpret the world for American readers. Twice a week, Friedman's celebrated commentary provides the most trenchant, pithy,and illuminating perspective in journalism.
Longitudes and Attitudes contains the columns Friedman has published about the most momentous news story of our time, as well as a diary of his experiences and reactions during this period of crisis. As the author writes, the book is "not meant to be a comprehensive study of September 11 and all the factors that went into it. Rather, my hope is that it will constitute a 'word album' that captures and preserves the raw, unpolished, emotional and analytical responses that illustrate how I, and others, felt as we tried to grapple with September and its aftermath, as they were unfolding."
Readers have repeatedly said that Friedman has expressed the essence of their own feelings, helping them not only by explaining who "they" are, but also by reassuring us about who "we" are. More than any other journalist writing, Friedman gives voice to America's awakening sense of its role in a changed world.
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About the Author
Thomas L. Friedman has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times for his newspaper reporting, and is the author of two bestselling books, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (FSG, 1999) and From Beirut to Jerusalem (FSG, 1989), winner of the National Book Award in Nonfiction. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.
Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist-the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.
He was born in Minneapolis in 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies, attended St. Antony's College, Oxford, on a Marshall Scholarship, and received an M.Phil. degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford. After three years with United Press International, he joined The New York Times, where he has worked ever since as a reporter, correspondent, bureau chief, and columnist. At the Times, he has won three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1983 for international reporting (from Lebanon), in 1988 for international reporting (from Israel), and in 2002 for his columns after the September 11th attacks.
Friedman's first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, won the National Book Award in 1989. His second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999), won the Overseas Press Club Award for best book on foreign policy in 2000. In 2002 FSG published a collection of his Pulitzer Prize-winning columns, along with a diary he kept after 9/11, as Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. His fourth book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) became a #1 New York Times bestseller and received the inaugural Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in November 2005. A revised and expanded edition was published in hardcover in 2006 and in 2007. The World Is Flat has sold more than 4 million copies in thirty-seven languages.
In 2008 he brought out Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which was published in a revised edition a year later. His sixth book, That Used to Be Us: How American Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, was published in 2011.
Thomas L. Friedman lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.
Hometown:Washington, D.C. area
Date of Birth:July 20, 1953
Place of Birth:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education:B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978
Read an Excerpt
Longitudes and Attitudes
Exploring the World After September 11
By Thomas L. Friedman
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2002 Thomas L. Friedman
All rights reserved.
Before: December 15, 2000–September 11, 2001
Medal of Honor
When Al Gore was in Vietnam he never saw much combat. Throughout his presidential campaign, though, he insisted he wanted to "fight" for every American. Well, Wednesday night, in his concession speech, Mr. Gore took a bullet for the country.
The shot was fired at the heart of the nation by the five conservative justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, with their politically inspired ruling that installed George W. Bush as President. The five justices essentially said that it was more important that Florida meet its self-imposed deadline of December 12 for choosing a slate of electors than for the Florida Supreme Court to try to come up with a fair and uniform way to ensure that every possible vote in Florida was counted — and still meet the real federal deadline, for the nationwide Electoral College vote on December 18. The five conservative justices essentially ruled that the sanctity of dates, even meaningless ones, mattered more than the sanctity of votes, even meaningful ones.
The Rehnquist Court now has its legacy: "In calendars we trust."
You don't need an inside source to realize that the five conservative justices were acting as the last in a team of Republican Party elders who helped drag Governor Bush across the finish line. You just needed to read the withering dissents of Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens, who told the country exactly what their five colleagues were up to — acting without legal principle or logic and thereby inflicting a wound, said Justice Breyer, "that may harm not just the Court, but the nation."
Or, as the Harvard moral philosopher Michael Sandel put it: "Not only did the Court fail to produce any compelling argument of principle to justify its ruling. But, on top of that, the conservative majority contradicted its long-held insistence on protecting states' rights against federal interference. That's why this ruling looks more like partisanship than principle. And that's why many will conclude that the five conservative justices voted twice for President — once in November and once in December."
Which brings us back to Mr. Gore and his concession speech. It was the equivalent of taking a bullet for the country, because the rule of law is most reinforced when — even though it may have been imposed wrongly or with bias — the recipient of the judgment accepts it, and the system behind it, as final and legitimate. Only in that way — only when we reaffirm our fidelity to the legal system, even though it rules against us — can the system endure, improve, and learn from its mistakes. And that was exactly what Mr. Gore understood, bowing out with grace because, as he put it, "this is America, and we put country before party."
If Chinese or Russian spies are looking for the most valuable secret they can steal in Washington, here's a free tip: Steal Al Gore's speech. For in a few brief pages it contains the real secret to America's sauce.
That secret is not Wall Street, and it's not Silicon Valley, it's not the Air Force and it's not the Navy, it's not the free press and it's not the free market — it is the enduring rule of law and the institutions that underlie them all, and that allow each to flourish no matter who is in power.
One can only hope that Mr. Bush also understands that the ultimate strength of America and the impact it has on the world does not come from all the military systems he plans to expand (though they too are important), or from Intel's latest microchip. It comes from this remarkable system of laws and institutions we have inherited — a system, they say, that was designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.
Mr. Bush will soon discover that preserving this system is critical not only for America, it is critical for the world. America today is the Michael Jordan of geopolitics. Many envy the institutions and economy that ensure our dominance; others deeply resent us for the same. But all are watching our example — and all understand, at some level, that the stability of the world today rests on the ability of our system and economy to endure.
Al Gore reinforced that system by his graceful concession; Mr. Bush will have to reinforce it by his presidency. Now that the campaign is over and the system has determined the winner, no one should root for his failure. Because, as Al Gore would say, "this is America," and it's the only one we've got.
December 15, 2000
My Favorite Teacher
Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine published its annual review of people who died last year who left a particular mark on the world. I am sure all readers have their own such list. I certainly do. Indeed, someone who made the most important difference in my life died last year — my high school journalism teacher, Hattie M. Steinberg.
I grew up in a small suburb of Minneapolis, and Hattie was the legendary journalism teacher at St. Louis Park High School, Room 313. I took her Intro to Journalism course in tenth grade, back in 1969, and have never needed, or taken, another course in journalism since. She was that good.
Hattie was a woman who believed that the secret for success in life was getting the fundamentals right.
And boy, 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 and to always do quality work. To this day, when I forget to wear a tie on assignment, I think of Hattie scolding me. I once interviewed an ad exec for our high school paper who used a four-letter word. We debated whether to run it. Hattie ruled yes. That ad man almost lost his job when it appeared. She wanted to teach us about consequences.
Hattie was the toughest teacher I ever had. After you took her journalism course in tenth grade, you tried out for the paper, The Echo, which she supervised. Competition was fierce. In eleventh grade, I didn't quite come up to her writing standards, so she made me business manager, selling ads to the local pizza parlors.
That year, though, she let me write one story. It was about an Israeli general who had been a hero in the Six-Day War, who was giving a lecture at the University of Minnesota. I covered his lecture and interviewed him briefly. His name was Ariel Sharon. First story I ever got published.
Those of us on the paper, and the yearbook that she also supervised, lived in Hattie's classroom. We hung out there before and after school. Now, you have to understand, Hattie was a single woman, nearing sixty at the time, and this was the 1960s. She was the polar opposite of "cool," but we hung around her classroom like it was a 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 in an age of uncertainty.
We remained friends for thirty years, and she followed, bragged about, and critiqued every twist in my career. After she died, her friends sent me a pile of my stories that she had saved over the years. Indeed, her students were her family — only closer. Judy Harrington, one of Hattie's former students, remarked about other friends who were on Hattie's newspapers and yearbooks: "We all graduated forty-one years ago; and yet nearly each day in our lives something comes up — some mental image, some admonition, that makes us think of Hattie."
Judy also told the story of one of Hattie's last birthday parties, when one man said he had to leave early to take his daughter somewhere. "Sit down," said Hattie. "You're not leaving yet. She can just be a little late."
That was my teacher! I sit up straight just thinkin' about her.
Among the fundamentals Hattie introduced me to was The New York Times. Every morning it was delivered to Room 313. I had never seen it before then. Real journalists, she taught us, start their day by reading the Times and columnists like Anthony Lewis and James Reston.
I have been thinking about Hattie a lot this year, not just because she died on July 31, but because the lessons she imparted to us seem so relevant now. We've just gone through this huge dotcom-Internet-globalization bubble — during which a lot of smart people got carried away and forgot the fundamentals of how you build a profitable company, a lasting portfolio, a nation-state, or a thriving student. It turns out that the real secret of success in the information age is what it always was: fundamentals — reading, writing, and arithmetic; church, synagogue, and mosque; the rule of law and good governance.
The Internet can make you smarter, but it can't make you smart. It can extend your reach, but it will never tell you what to say at a PTA meeting. These fundamentals cannot be downloaded. You can only upload them, the old-fashioned way, one by one, in places like Room 313 at St. Louis Park High. I only regret that I didn't write this column when the woman who taught me all that was still alive.
January 9, 2001
Clinton's Last Memo
To: The Arab Street
From: President Bill Clinton
Dear ladies and gentlemen, over the last few years I've often written your leaders, but now that my term is ending I've decided my last letter should be to you, the Arab masses, the Arab street, who have paid such a high price for this ongoing conflict.
I'm going to be blunt. I've done all I could to build a fair, realistic pathway out of the Arab-Israeli conflict for both you and the Israelis, but if you want to continue fighting it out and avoiding a deal that gives you 95 percent of what you want, well, there's nothing more I can do.
But there is something I can say, and it's this: What troubles me most about the mood on the Arab street today is the hostility I detect there to modernization, globalization, democratization, and the information revolution. What you do with the Israelis is up to you now, but what you do with your own societies is going to affect the stability of the whole Middle East.
Where other countries are focused on developing world-class competitive industries, you are still focused on protecting your uncompetitive ones. Where others are aggressively trading with the world, you barely trade with each other. Where others are freeing their presses, you are still controlling yours. Where other world leaders are building their legitimacy by pushing education, most of yours are still building their legitimacy by pushing a religious conflict. Where others are seeking foreign investors in order to create jobs for their young people, you are driving off foreign investors with unfriendly bureaucracies and pursuit of a conflict that scares everyone away from your region. In an age when others are making microchips, you are making potato chips.
I would have thought that this reality would be a hotly debated subject among your elites, and I know some have raised it. But for the most part your intellectuals, pundits, and parliamentarians, rather than fostering an honest debate, prefer to make excuses. When I ask Arab leaders why South Korea had roughly the same per capita income in the early 1950s as Syria or Egypt, and now South Korea is a highly developed country and Syria and Egypt are still developing, the answer I get is that the Arab states had to fight wars. Well, South Korea had a struggle with North Korea for decades. Another excuse I get is that the Arab states had population problems. Well, so does China, and it's been growing at 10 percent per year.
Your intellectuals seem more interested in protecting their perks by coming up with excuses for the weakness of their regimes than in fostering an honest debate.
I realize that the issue of Israel and who rules over the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem touches the soul of the Arab street. I would not think of asking you to give up on controlling your religious sites. But I would urge you to consider asking more than one question. Who rules Al-Aksa Mosque is critical for the dignity of every Arab and Palestinian Muslim in the modern world. But what sort of education you offer your kids, what sort of economy you build, and what sort of rule of law you establish will also determine your dignity and standing in the modern world. You should be concerned with answering the old questions, but you have to recognize that they are not the only questions.
There has to be a balance. A society that forgets its roots will never be stable. But a society that is preoccupied with its roots, and is asking the question only of who owns which root, will never grow into the world or bear fruit. Your intellectuals don't care. They eat the fruit no matter what. They are protected by the regimes while they keep you living only by the old questions and the old role models. In doing so, they ensure that you never reach your full potential.
I understand you get frustrated with America. But when you follow the Arab elites into supporting Saddam Hussein, I don't understand. Forget about us; think about this man and what he has done to his neighbors, the poison gas he has used on his own people, the generation of Iraqis he has destroyed. Is this a role model? Is this the sort of Arab leader you want for your own societies?
I hope not. I hope one day soon I will see an intifada not only for an independent Palestine but for Arab education, for an Arab free press, for Arab legality, for Arab democracy. An Arab street that can ask only one question will, in the end, not be a very nice place to raise your kids.
Sincerely, Bill Clinton
January 12, 2001
Secretary of State–designate Colin Powell has his Senate confirmation hearing this week. I doubt Mr. Powell will say much about specific policies. What I'd listen for is whether he offers a big-picture view of the world, as we really don't know what his views are since he left Army service in 1993.
One way to think about Mr. Powell is this: He spent thirty-five years of his life with America Onduty, as a military officer. But for the past two years he's been associated with America Online, as a member of the AOL corporate board. So which perspective will Mr. Powell bring to his job as Secretary of State — the perspective he gleaned with America Onduty during the cold war or the perspective he gleaned with America Online in the post — cold war?
These are two different perspectives: America Onduty tends to see the world as being built around walls and America Online tends to see the world as being built around webs.
That is, America Onduty believes that U.S. foreign policy has been, and continues to be, about defending, erecting, and bringing down walls. That means building walls of containment around enemies or rivals, from North Korea to Iraq to China. It means being largely indifferent to what goes on behind the walls of countries as long as they are not bothering us — e.g., not really caring how Russia's internal reform plays out — and it means working to bring down the last few walls of Communism around North Korea and Cuba.
America Online, by contrast, sees America at the center of an increasingly integrated global web — a web of trade, telecommunications, finance, and environment. For America Online, U.S. foreign policy is about protecting that web from those who would disrupt it, strengthening that web, and expanding it to others — because, after all, America is now the biggest beneficiary of that web, since American products, technologies, values, ideas, movies, and foods are the most widely distributed through it.
One way you preserve that web is by being prepared to defend it from those who would disrupt it, such as Saddam Hussein. Another way is by being ready to promote the expansion of free trade, to join with others in protecting the global environment, or to help with bailouts when key strands of the web — such as Mexico or Thailand — are threatened with financial crises that could infect the whole network. Still another way is by putting a higher priority on working with Russia to solve web problems that endanger us both — such as nuclear or missile proliferation — rather than by expanding NATO's wall to Russia's border, thus making cooperation with Moscow impossible.
The wall people, the America Onduty people, love the movie A Few Good Men, particularly the closing scene where Jack Nicholson, the tough marine colonel, sneers at Tom Cruise, the navy lawyer who has Mr. Nicholson on trial for the death of a weak U.S. soldier on a U.S. base in Cuba during the cold war.
Mr. Nicholson says: "Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? ... Deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall."
Excerpted from Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas L. Friedman. Copyright © 2002 Thomas L. Friedman. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: A Word Album
Prologue: The Super-Story
Before: December 15,2000—September 11, 2001
After: September 13, 2001—July 3, 2002
Travels in a World Without Walls: September 11, 2001—July 3, 2002
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