You just assume when people make claims like this there's a rational basis for it. They must have found a statement from Friedman prior to the war that shows he opposed the war. If they didn't find such a statement they wouldn't make the claim. Right? Why would you make an assertion like this without evidence?
Klein in my view is under no obligation to prove Friedman supported the war. It's not really relevant to the argument, and I don't think she claims he supported the war in her book. But regardless of that she's gone forward and done what her critics won't do. She's checked the facts. Here she provides the text of an interview with Friedman from 2003. It's an English translation of an article published in a German magazine. An excerpt:
FOCUS: You describe the concentration of power as the greatest threat to freedom – and thus to the economy as well. Many people judge the current war against Iraq very critically for this reason – you as well?The perception Friedman held that the war would be easy may have faded by Novemeber, 2004. Friedman was interviewed at this time. Here's an excerpt:
Friedman: A clear no. US President Bush only wanted war because anything else would have threatened the freedom and the prosperity of the USA. Counter-question: Do you recommend that Gerhard Schröder ask the whole world for advice before he engages in foreign policy?
FOCUS: The USA did at least ignore the opinion of the majority of UN members…
Friedman:…Bush is president of the United States and not the world. He didn’t even have to consult the UN at all. The United Nations is an absurd organization anyways. All votes count the same, regardless of whether the country has three or 300 million residents. Furthermore, many nations aren’t democratically legitimized at all.
FOCUS: Many Europeans see that differently. Does this political disagreement threaten a trade war between Europe and America?
Friedman: No, the end justifies the means. As soon as we’re rid of Saddam, the political differences will also disappear again very quickly.
FOCUS: What remains are the immense costs of war. Where is the money supposed to come from?
Friedman: It is a small war – also in comparison to the Gulf War of 1991. Back then we had a troop strength of around 400,000 men, today it’s not even 250,000. America is a big country – in comparison to the state expenditures of three to four trillion dollars a year, the costs for this war are only marginal …
DA: In a time of war, how do we maintain our freedom?At this point he thinks you could go either way on the argument of whether the war was necessary. But a short run restriction on your freedom by continuing a war is necessary to prevent a permanent reduction in our freedom that is a consequence of terrorist action. The war is still small enough that the Patriot Act is not a big deal.
MF: We don’t. We invariably reduce our freedom. But that doesn’t mean it’s a permanent reduction. As long as we really keep in mind what we’re doing, that we keep it temporary, we need not destroy our freedom.
DA: Are you concerned that some of the measures we’re taking now to fight the war, like the Patriot Act, may be more than just temporary?
MF: It’s not clear. The Patriot Act is a very complicated issue, and I’m not going to get involved in that. But I think that on the whole, this war is small enough relative to our economy that it is not going to be a serious impediment to our freedom. But the sooner we can get rid of it and out of it, the better.
DA: Do you agree with President Bush that the actions in Iraq were necessary as a part of our war on terrorism?
MF: I think you can argue either side of that. Where I do feel strongly, is that having gone into it, whether we should have or not, we must see it through.
DA: Even if it costs some of our freedoms?
MF: There’s no way to avoid a burden on your freedom. The costs themselves are a burden on your freedom. The restrictions that are necessary in order to get rid of the terrorists are a burden to your freedom. So there’s no way in the short run to avoid a restriction on your freedom. But if we’re going to avoid a permanent reduction in freedom, we have to see this war through.
But by 2006 things have gone from bad to worse. Friedman tells the Wall St Journal he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning (and starts a squabble with his wife Rose in the process). Four months prior to his death he remembers his own opinions differently.
The Hoover Institute, where Friedman was a fellow at the time of the invasion, was instrumental in the invasion. Prior to the war the highly influential Defense Policy Board met regularly with the President and Secretary of Defense. According to the Chicago Tribune this board was "playing an influential role in pushing the Bush administration toward an invasion of Iraq, generating support for military action as members seek to transform a controversial idea into a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy." It had 31 members, 8 of whom were Hoover Institute fellows. This caused some controversy at Standfard, where the Hoover Institute operates, prompting the University to respond. Thomas Sowell is another Hoover Institute fellow and close associate of Friedman. He supported the war and also provided plenty of Muslim bashing to fuel the fire.
Look to other conservative think tanks which were closely associated with Friedman, such as the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. You can browse AEI archives on the topic of Iraq. Such an amazing compilation of errors and distortions it's hard to believe they haven't done everything they can to hide this. The very first article after 9-11 was a ridiculous piece of fiction that I've discussed before. It's the same story at Heritage. Here's one that talks about how silly the left is for thinking things would go bad in Iraq. Once again it's an endless stream of war propaganda. If Friedman opposed the war from the beginning, why didn't anybody notice and address his objections?
Given his associations his claim that he opposed the war from the beginning is surprising. Why didn't people check the claim rather than mindlessly repeating it as if it were true?