How Are We Measuring Progress in Iraq?
General Petraeus recycles back the Friedman unit!!Gen. David Petraeus appeared on NBC this morning and rebutted the declarations of mission accomplished:
We think we won’t know that we’ve reached a turning point until we’re six months past it. We have repeatedly said that there is no lights at the end of the tunnel that we’re seeing. We’re certainly not dancing in the end zone or anything like that.The careful reader will recall that it was Thom Friedman, intrepid optimist, NYT columnist and Iraquagmire cheerleader who inadvertently gave birth to the 6-month interval as a definitive measure of progress. His repetitive invoking of overlapping 6-months periods constitutes one of many false prophecies which have coaxed my fellow Americans through this costly, bloody, and unremitting occupation for the last five years. My guess is that Friedman is not especially proud of his namesake, the Friedman Units. Nevertheless, they have broken his credibility as an Iraq pundit, and he has had to own them. As Craig Unger has chronicled in his book, Fall of the House of Bush, for years Friedman has been promising his faithful readers their deliverance just around the next corner. Starting in the NYT (28-Sep-05):
Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time.Face The Nation (18-Dec-05):
We teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together.Charlie Rose (20-Dec-05):
We are at the beginning of - I think - the decisive - I would say - six months in Iraq, okay, because I feel this election - you know, I felt from the beginning Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of it.NYT (21-Dec-05):
The only thing I am certain of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis make of it - and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain guardedly hopeful.Oprah Winfrey Show (23-Jan-06):
I think we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding. In which case, I think the American people as a whole will want to play it out or whether it really is a fool's errand.CBS (31-Jan-06):
I think we're in the end game here, in the next three to six months, Bob. We've got for the first time and Iraqi government elected on the basis of an Iraqi constitution. Either they're going to produce the kind of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near term, in which case America will stick to it, or they're not, in which case I think the bottom's going to fall out.Today-NBC (2-Mar-06) :
I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq.CNN (23-Apr-06):
Can Iraqis ever get this government together? If they do, I think the American public will continue to want to support the effort there to try to produce a decent stable Iraq. But if they don't, then I think the bottom is going to fall out of public support here for the whole Iraq endeavor. So one way or another, I think we're in the end game in the sense it's going to be decided in the next weeks or months whether there's an Iraq there worth investing in. And that is something only Iraqis can tell us.Hardball-NSNBC (11-May-06):
Well, I think we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months - probably sooner - whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're just going to have to let this play out.Friedman may have experience an epiphany in his A Time for Plan B NYT (4-Aug-06):
It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.Friedman senses himself exhausted and over extended (like our troops). It's time to call in fresh false prophets. Enter General Petraeus and Senator McCain.