Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice

Are we about to turn a corner in Iraq, or should we just cut our losses and get out now? How much longer should we let things play out before we take a decisive step towards disengagement? Let’s ask Tom Friedman, the New York Times’s resident Sensible Liberal and global brain. Apparently, we need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until November or December of 2006. Then we’ll know:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Hardball, MSNBC (May 11, 2006)

How much longer should we let things play out before we take a decisive step towards disengagement? Let’s ask Tom Friedman, the New York Times’s resident Sensible Liberal and global brain. Apparently, we need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until March or April of 2004. Then we’ll know:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (November 30, 2003)

We should let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until December of 2004 or January of 2005. Then we’ll know:

What I absolutely don’t understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of—I know a lot of these guys—reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it’s over. I don’t get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what’s the rush? Can we let this play out, please?

— Thomas L. Friedman, Fresh Air, NPR (June 3, 2004)

The next six months are critical. Give it until April or May of 2005. Then we’ll know:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Face the Nation, CBS (October 3, 2004)

Give it until June or July of 2005:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (November 28, 2004)

We’re in the end game now. Give it until March or April of 2006:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Press (September 25, 2005)

Give it until March or April of 2006:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (September 28, 2005)

June or July of 2006:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Face the Nation (December 18, 2005)

July to October of 2006:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Oprah Winfrey Show (January 23, 2006)

We’re in the end game now. We’ll see by sometime around May to July of 2006:

I think we’re in the end game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We’ve got for the first time an 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 with it, or they’re not, in which case I think the bottom’s going to fall out.

—Thomas L. Friedman, CBS (January 31, 2006)

We’re in the end game now. We’ll see by sometime around September to December of 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. —Thomas L. Friedman, Today, NBC (March 2, 2006)

We need to let this play out for a while before we do anything rash. The next six months are critical. Give it until November or December of 2006. Then we’ll know:

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.

— Thomas L. Friedman, Hardball, MSNBC (May 11, 2006)

Next month: Tom Friedman thinks that we’re going to find out whether it’s time to leave Iraq in the next six months! Give it until January 2007…

Be sure to bear in mind, in case you are confused, that there are always more corners to turn when you are lost in an endless maze.

(Quotes thanks to FAIR 2006-05-16. Link thanks to Dominion Weblog 2006-05-16.)

3 replies to Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Dain

    Wow, what an exceptionally well put together blog post.

    Friedman represents exactly the kind of unprincipled centrist b.s. that is so popular among the denizens of the social sciences.

  2. Roderick T. Long

    In the movie Ninotchka there’s a scene where Melvyn Douglas tells Soviet envoy Greta Garbo, “I love Russia! I’ve followed your five-year plan with fascination for the past fifteen years.”

— 2013 —

  1. PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    Great post.

    On June 23, 2013 in the NY Times Friedman wrote: “In Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, all that’s left is a single question: Can the people in these countries who for so long have been governed vertically — from the top down — now govern themselves horizontally by writing their own social contracts for how to live together as equal citizens with regular rotations in power and without iron fists from above.”

    Oh boy. How about abolish that power over others and instead establish a society with equality of authority. Roderick knows: http://mises.org/daily/804

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