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Monday, March 17, 2014

A History of the "Friedman Unit"

As another bit of bonus coverage for the 11th anniversary of the launch of the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq, here's my piece from May 18, 2006, drawn from my new ebook on the war and media, So Wrong for So Long--on the fabled "Friedman Unit," or FU. 
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For weeks now, liberal bloggers have proposed a new measurement to mark the mildly optimistic, if farfetched,  pronouncements on Iraq coming from  many pundits, Republicans, and White House spokesman:  the 'Friedman Unit' or ‘F.U.’     It equals six months, and is named after famed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a longtime supporter of the war who, for nearly three years, has repeatedly declared that  things would likely turn around there if we just give it another  six months.
 
Friedman Unit has even gained a lengthy entry at Wikipedia.   It calls it a “tongue-in-cheek neologism…. The term has been used in general to describe any pronouncement of a critical period for the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”
 
Now the press watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has assembled a full review of Friedman's pronouncements in this vein.  "A review of Friedman's punditry reveals a long series of similar do-or-die dates that never seem to get any closer," said FAIR, which compiled excerpts from Friedman's columns and broadcast remarks. 
  
It  tracks the birth of the Friedman Unit to his Times column on November 30, 2003,
which  held this quote:  "The next six months in Iraq -- which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there -- are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."
 
Then, on CBS's "Face the Nation," on Oct. 3, 2004, he declared: "What we're gonna find out, Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war."
  
Six weeks after that, in the Times, he declared: “Improv time is over. This is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months. But it won't be won with high rhetoric. It will be won on the ground in a war over the last mile."

And away we go:
"I think we're in the end game now…. I think we're in a six-month window here where it's going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt I think the next congressional election -- that's my own feeling -- let alone the presidential one." (NBC's "Meet the Press, " Sept. 25, 2005)

"We've 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." ("Face the Nation, " Dec. 18, 2005)

"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." (The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2005)

"I think that 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." (Oprah Winfrey Show, Jan. 23, 2006)

"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." (NBC's "Today," March 2, 2006)

"Can Iraqis 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." (CNN, April 23, 2006)

"Well, I think that 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 going to have to just let this play out." (MSNBC's "Hardball," May 11, 2006)
Greg Mitchell’s new edition of So Wrong for So Long includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword with updates right up to Bradley Manning’s hearing last month.

1 comment:

Willy Bach said...

Thomas Friedman is one of many who have caused irreparable harm to millions of people and will never pay the price for their toxic punditry, except if we accept the idea that they are not entitled to a livelihood of spreading hatred and violence.

Switch them off, stop buying the product and sack all the US Congress and Senate members who voted for these illegal wars of aggression.

Thanks Greg for the opportunity to say this - from a citizen of the rest of the world who wants to see the US prosper as an ordinary nation that adheres to international law.