The Lexus and the Olive Tree | Thomas L. Friedman

Summary of: The Lexus and the Olive Tree
By: Thomas L. Friedman


Embark on a journey through ‘The Lexus and the Olive Tree’ by Thomas L. Friedman, which delves into the complex realm of globalization and its effects on culture, politics, and security. This summary explores the concept of the Super-Empowered Angry Man emerging in the 21st century as a significant threat to the United States, aided by technological advancements and a shrinking world. Discover the varying motives and methods of these individuals or groups as they push back against the expanding influence of American culture and values. Understand how globalization acts as a double-edged sword, paving the way for incredible interconnectedness and potential diffusion of ideologies and discontent.

Super-Empowered Angry Men

The 21st century poses a new threat to the United States: the Super-Empowered Angry Man. Globalization, which is often viewed as American imperialism, is amplifying the power of individuals who feel marginalized and angry. Thanks to advancements in travel and technology, these people have greater access to the means to cause harm. The same way the Romans’ roads facilitated their own destruction, globalization is unwittingly super-empowering those who want to cause harm.

The Dangerous Rise of Super-Empowered Angry Men

The term “Super-Empowered Angry Men” refers to individuals who use technological skills to challenge power structures and ideologies, ranging from non-violent to violent means. The former type can bring down websites or flood emails with bomb threats, while the latter type can resort to physical violence to destroy institutions. Their purpose is to show that they are smarter than the elites that run these institutions and that the system does not control them. These individuals do not have a specific ideology but instead have an attitude of wanting to topple the current power structures.

Super-Empowered Angry Men

The book discusses Super-Empowered Angry Men, including Aum Shinrikyo, the Osama bin Laden group, the Unabomber, and Ramzi Yousef. These individuals are fueled by rage against the West and use advanced technology to carry out destructive acts. They do not seek to change the world but only to destroy as much of it as possible. Ramzi Yousef is the epitome of a Super-Empowered Angry Man, responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and driven by a desire to strike back against the US using its own technology. Overall, these individuals pose a significant threat to global security and require vigilant efforts to prevent their attacks.

The Super-Empowered Angry Man and Globalization

The ability of the Super-Empowered Angry Man to integrate into the global system is highlighted in this book. Globalization gives them the ability, motivation, and logic to attack the US on their own. The terrorists despise American values and technology worship, despite the US being technologically superior. They love the idea of living a religious life while having access to technological advancements.

The book delves into the concept of the Super-Empowered Angry Man, who has the resources, motivation, and ability to carry out global attacks on their own. One example provided is the follower of Yousef, who returned to the truck rental agency after the 1993 World Trade Center attack to reclaim the $400 deposit left on the truck that held their bomb. This individual’s arrest ultimately led authorities to Yousef and the computer that contained the details of his plots.

According to Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen, men like Yousef no longer believe that they first need to get control of their own countries before targeting the US. Globalization gives them the ability, motivation, and logic to attack the US on their own. States are no longer the relevant powers; the US and global markets are. If the goal is to dismantle the global power structure, these men will target the US directly.

The terrorists despise American values and technology worship, despite the US being technologically superior. The idea of American values being mindless consumerism and technology worship bothers them. Yousef highlighted this during his trial, expressing that Americans killed innocent people in every war they fought and continued to do so with new tactics like the economic embargo.

Overall, the book provides insights on how these individuals operate and think, as well as how globalization has enabled them to carry out attacks on their own. Moreover, it sheds light on their perception of American values and culture, which often prompts them to carry out violent acts.

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