Longitudes and Attitudes | Thomas L. Friedman

Summary of: Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism
By: Thomas L. Friedman


Delve into the complex world of global terrorism and its impact on society with Thomas L. Friedman’s insightful book, ‘Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism’. Highlighting the role of globalization, the decline of US-deterrence, and the volatile Saudi Arabian monarchy, Friedman dissects numerous myths that surround global terrorism. This summary aims to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the intricate political and societal issues in the Middle East, and the challenges faced by the United States in addressing these issues. Discover how religious totalitarianism, misconceptions about Islam, and the delicate balance between the US and other countries have contributed to the current state of international terrorism.

The Bedouin Legend and American Terrorism

The story of an elderly Bedouin leader and his stolen turkey became a poignant commentary on terrorism. After years of allowing terrorism to exist, America “lost its turkey,” culminating in the horrors of 9/11. President George Bush’s “axis of evil” statement was a bold move towards restoring U.S. deterrence and getting its “turkey” back from terrorists. The stability of the world rests on America’s endurance.

Globalization and Super-Empowered Individuals

The aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy highlights the impact of globalization and the emergence of super-empowered individuals. The post-Cold War era is characterized by integration, globalization, and complex power balances between nation-states and individuals. Osama bin Laden serves as an example of how a “force multiplier” is available to unmediated super-empowered individuals. This was demonstrated during the first-ever conflict between a superpower and a single person when the US launched a multi-million-dollar military attack on bin Laden in 1998. The 9/11 tragedy became the second super-empowered individual conflict in history.

Saudi Arabia: A Royal Family’s Nightmare

Saudi Arabia’s demographic explosion and declining per capita oil income have caused widespread discontent. This is compounded by a conservative faction which opposes modernization and resents ties with the U.S. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah attempted to permit women in the country to drive, but the proposal was blocked. The fact that 15 out of 19 suicide attackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals further highlights the issues.

9 Myths About 9/11

In 9 Myths About 9/11, author and professor James W. Loewen debunks commonly held beliefs about the motivations and context of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Loewen argues that many of the justifications, rationales, and assumptions provided in the aftermath of the event are misguided or simply false. These myths include the idea that the attacks were a response to U.S. support of Israel, that the Arab countries are rich, and that the U.S. impeded peace for Palestinians. Loewen also examines the claim that Arab newspapers’ hatred toward the U.S. is beyond the control of Arab government, that the U.S. is warring against terrorism, and that Islam is a religion of war. Additionally, he challenges the notion that no one could have predicted 9/11, and argues that the event occurred because the U.S. lost its deterrent capability. Finally, Loewen addresses the belief that U.S. support for Israel is unequivocal, and that Palestinians are fighting solely for a state. By rejecting these myths, Loewen seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the complex and long-standing issues surrounding the attacks, and to encourage a more nuanced approach to these issues in the future.

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