Top critical review
The Daydreams of a Naive Interventionist
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2017
Friedman is among the naive interventionists. Although I agree with many of his core values, I wholeheartedly disagree that interventions are always the right course. Rather than respecting complex systems, Friedman supposes that we can alter them without causing harmful side effects. He also uses the same engineering ideology that causes some of our ecological and population problems to try to solve them. I had read that Friedman was among those who favored the invasion of Iraq back in 2003 for the purposes of removing Hussein and promoting democratic freedom in the middle east. He obviously failed to learn from Iraq's destabilization and the growth of ISIS that we cannot predict the outcomes of our interventions into complex systems and that far too often, the consequences of intervening are worse than the consequences of doing nothing. Had he learned this lesson, he would have rescinded the book. But like many journalists posing as intellectuals, who also have no real skin in the game, his failures don't seem to trouble him a bit. It is this same mindset that Friedman applies to global warming (promoting nuclear, wind and solar which all have their own environmental issues) and poverty (encouraging more consumption by promoting US middle class lifestyles abroad). He is blinded by neo-mania and technology -- seeing only their benefits but none of their drawbacks. And he is enthusiastic about social and economic engineering. I could scarcely read more than a couple pages without wincing at his naivete, arrogance or just plain ignorance. Had I not been reading for a book club, I would have stopped after the first couple chapters. If you are unintelligent and looking for simple answers from somebody who thinks he understands the world, you may enjoy this book. He has plenty of rationale that makes sense if you don't think about it too much.
However, if you understand complexity, emergent properties and can respect the limits of human understanding, don't waste your time with this book.