Friedman Unit

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One Friedman Unit, also known as "one Friedman" or "one F.U.", equals six months in the future.

The term is a tongue-in-cheek neologism coined by blogger Atrios (Duncan Black) on May 21, 2006, in reference to the discovery by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) of journalist Thomas Friedman's repeated use of "the next six months" as the time 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 these six-month predictions since November 2003.

More broadly, many political observers measure any date-specific statement by a public figure regarding the future of Iraq or the Iraq War in Friedman Units, thus suggesting that the speaker's predictions of a near-term resolution of the Iraq War amount to that speaker's de facto defense of the status quo. Examples may involve troop withdrawals, the formation of government in parliament, the pacification of Baghdad, or merely an upcoming "critical time" in Iraq.

End dates that have passed are in italics.

Name Occupation Quotation-in-context FUs Begin date End date
Donald Rumsfeld U.S. Secretary of Defense "It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

'TownHall Meeting' at Aviano Air Base, Italy [1]

0.03, 0.2, <1.0 February 7, 2003 September 6, 2003
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "The next six months in Iraq... are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time"

FAIR

1.0 November 30, 2003 May 30, 2004
Hillary Rodham Clinton U.S. Senator "The next six to seven months are critical."

The Time Is (Perpetually) Now Washington Post

1.0 - 1.1 December 1, 2003 May-June, 2004
Tony Blair U.K. Prime Minister "The important thing is to realize we are about to enter into a very critical six months"

Straw: UK troops in Iraq for years CNN

1.0 January 5, 2004 July 5, 2004
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "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?"

FAIR

0.04, 0.17, 1.0 June 3, 2004 December 3, 2004
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "What we're gonna find out... in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war."

FAIR

1.0–1.5 October 3, 2004 April 3, 2005
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "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."

FAIR

~0.5 November 28, 2004 February - March, 2005
Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. Ambassador to Iraq "I think the next nine months are critical."

Situation Report on the Expedition to Iraq (NPR's "All Things Considered")

1.5 June 29, 2005 March 2006
Chuck Hagel U.S. Senator "The next six months will be "very critical" in Iraq, he said."

Hagel: Iraq growing more like Vietnam CNN

1.0 August 18, 2005 February 18, 2006''
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "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"

FAIR

1.0 September 25, 2005 March 25, 2006
Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. Ambassador to Iraq "[W]e are on the right track to start significant reductions in the coming year.... I believe within 12 months, Iraq will be well on its way towards success, will have made significant progress from where we are today. "

Newsmaker: Zalmay Khalizad NewsHour</ref>

2.0 October 25, 2005 October 25, 2006
Joe Biden U.S. Senator "I think we have a six-month window here to get it right."

Transcript for November 27 Meet the Press

1.0 November 27, 2005 May 27, 2006
John Warner U.S. Senator "we've got to stay firm for the next six months. It is a critical period..."

Transcript for November 27 Meet the Press

1.0 November 27, 2005 May 27, 2006
John McCain U.S. Senator "we will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year"

Transcript for December 4 Meet the Press

1.0–2.0 December 4, 2005 June 4, 2006 - December 4, 2006
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse"

FAIR

1.0 December 18, 2005 June 18, 2006
Joe Biden U.S. Senator "Next six months are going to tell the story."

Face the Nation

1.0 December 18, 2005 June 18, 2006
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "I think that we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding"

FAIR

1.0–1.5 January 23, 2006 July 23, 2006
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "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."

FAIR

1.0–1.5 March 2, 2006 September 2, 2006
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "we're going to find out... in the next year to six months - probably sooner - whether a decent outcome is possible"

FAIR

1.0 May 11, 2006 November 11, 2006
Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. Ambassador "The next six months will be critical in terms of reining in the danger of civil war. If the government fails to achieve this, it will have lost its opportunity"

"The Next Six Months Will Be Critical" Der Spiegel

1.0 June 7, 2006 December 7, 2006
General Barry McCaffrey U.S. Military Academy "I think between now and Christmas [six months] is the crucial time."

Transcript for June 11 Meet the Press

1.0 June 11, 2006 December 25, 2006
Joe Lieberman U.S. Senator "by the end of this year [six months], we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops"

Lieberman, Lamont Spar in Conn. Primary Debate Washington Post

1.0 July 7, 2006 December 31, 2006
Joe Biden U.S. Senator "one year from now, if there is not significant progress... 'there's going to be really no prospect... of keeping any large number of American forces here.'"

Iraqi Troops Clash With Shiite Militia Washington Post

2.0 July 7, 2006 July 7, 2007
Lee Hamilton ISG Co-Chair "The next three months are critical."

Time running out for Iraqis, study group leaders warn, SF Chronicle

0.5 September 20, 2006 December 20, 2006
General George Casey U.S. Army "I don't have a date, but I can see over the next 12 to 18 months, the Iraqi security forces progressing to a point where they can take on the security responsibilities for the country, with very little coalition support."

Top U.S. general: Iraqis can take over security within 18 months, USA Today

2.0 - 3.0 August 29, 2006 February 29, 2008
Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. Ambassador "He has a window of a couple months...If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost"

Time running out for Iraq's prime minister, Washington Post

0.33 September 30, 2006 November 30, 2006
General George Casey U.S. Army "said that the next six months will be a decisive period that will determine Iraq's future"

[2]

1.0 October 5, 2006 April 5, 2007
Tony Blair U.K. Prime Minister "Blair gives Iraq 12 months to be ready for handover"

Blair gives Iraq 12 months to be ready for handover, Guardian

2.0 October 23, 2006 October 23, 2007
Carl Levin U.S. Senator "U.S. troops should begin coming home from Iraq in the next four to six months"

Levin starts Iraq pullout debate UPI

0.66-1.0 November 13, 2006 May 13, 2007
John McCain U.S. Senator "Mr. McCain said that the fate of the Iraqi venture would be decided in the next six months or so"[3] 1.0 November 13, 2006 May 13, 2007
General John Abizaid CENTCOM Commander "[A Senator] asked General Abizaid how much time the United States had to bring down the violence in Baghdad... the answer was four to six months"

Top General Warns Against Iraq Timetable, New York Times

0.66-1.0 November 15, 2006 May 15, 2007
Barack Obama U.S. Senator "called for a 'gradual and substantial' reduction of U.S. forces... in four to six months"

Obama urges gradual withdrawal from Iraq AP

0.66-1.0 November 20, 2006 May 20, 2007
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "Ten Months or Ten Years."

Ten Months or Ten Years New York Times

1.67 or 20 (= 1 NFU) November 29, 2006 September 29, 2007 or November 29, 2016
Nouri al-Maliki Iraqi Prime Minister "I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready [to assume security command] by June 2007 [six months]"

Maliki: Iraqis could assume security by June 2007, Reuters

1.0 November 30, 2006 June 1, 2007
Thomas Friedman opinion columnist "our real choices in Iraq are 10 months or 10 years"

"Set a Date and Buy Some Leverage", New York Times

1.67 or 20 (= 1 NFU) December 8, 2006 October 8, 2007 or December 8, 2016
Mary Matalin Republican strategist "[S]ecurity is an essential precondition for a political solution... But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months."

President Bush Formally Unveils Plan To Beef Up War; House Approves Minimum Wage Hike; Iraq Will Likely Dominate 2008 Agenda CNN

1.0-? January 10, 2007 July 10, 2007
General George Casey US commander in Iraq "I think it's probably going to be late summer before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods."

U.S. general expects troop increase to end by summer International Herald Tribune

1.0-1.3 January 19, 2007 late August, 2007
John Boehner House GOP leader "I think it'll be rather clear in the next sixty to ninety days as to whether this plan's going to work."

Boehner Sets Deadline For "Surge's" Success: Two To Three Months TPM Cafe

0.33-0.5 January 23, 2007 April 23, 2007
Norm Coleman U.S. Senator "Probably six months to a year, for everything. And I talked to some of my colleagues tonight, the military knows, I think they know, that they have to produce big-time over the next six months."

Wurzerc soucoleman (RAM), publicradio.org

1.0-2.0 January 24, 2007 July 24, 2007
Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State (via Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense) "Mr. Gates said Tuesday that Ms. Rice had told him that her department needed six months to locate and prepare civil servants and contractors to send abroad [to expand the provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq]."

Military Wants More Civilians to Help in Iraq The New York Times

1.0 c. February 6, 2007 August 6, 2007
Top advisors to Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad "An elite team of officers, leading experts in counter-insurgency" "the US has six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat."

Military chiefs give US six months to win Iraq war Guardian

1.0 February 27, 2007 August 27, 2007
Gordon Smith U.S. Senator, R-OR "Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September. I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me."

September Could Be Key Deadline in War Washington Post

0.67 May 8, 2007 September, 2007
Jim Moran U.S. Rep., D-VA "If we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration."

September Could Be Key Deadline in War Washington Post

0.67 May 8, 2007 September, 2007
John Boehner U.S. Rep., R-OH "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."

September Could Be Key Deadline in War Washington Post

0.83 May 8, 2007 September-October, 2007
Norm Coleman U.S. Senator, R-Minn "There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis. I think everybody knows that, I really do."

September Could Be Key Deadline in War Washington Post

0.67 May 8, 2007 September, 2007
Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno ground commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure... What I am trying to do is to get until April so we can decide whether to keep it going or not. Are we making progress? If we're not making any progress, we need to change our strategy. If we're making progress, then we need to make a decision on whether we continue to surge."

Commanders in Iraq See 'Surge' Into '08 Washington Post

1.17 - 1.83 May 1, 2007 January 1, 2008 - April 1, 2008

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