Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Opinion (Eugene Robinson): 'Six Months' Without End

Above: A clock repair shop in Baghdad. In some circles, six-month cycles of predicted progress are referred to as 'Freidman Units'. The term is in reference to a May 16, 2006 article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) detailing journalist Thomas Friedman's repeated use of "the next six months" as the period in which, according to Friedman, "we're going to find out...whether a decent outcome is possible" in the Iraq War. As documented by FAIR, Friedman had been making such six-month predictions for a period of two and a half years, on at least fourteen different occasions, starting with a column in the November 30, 2003 edition of The New York Times, in which he stated: "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."

The next six months in Iraq are crucial -- and always will be. That noise you heard yesterday on Capitol Hill was the can being kicked further down the road leading to January 2009, when George W. Bush gets to hand off his Iraq fiasco to somebody else.

It's clear by now that playing for time is the real White House strategy for Iraq. Everything else is tactical maneuver and rhetorical legerdemain -- nothing up my sleeve -- with which the administration is buying time, roughly in six-month increments. Appearing before a joint hearing called by the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, Gen. David H. Petraeus probably won the respite Bush wanted when he said that U.S. military objectives "are in large measure being met."

Never mind whether those objectives make sense. Oh, and if anyone mentions that Congress is supposed to decide what wars this nation fights, not generals or diplomats? Attack them for impugning our nation's finest -- and give that can another kick.

Read the rest at the Washington Post