Thomas Friedman

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The "six month" (Friedman Unit) predictions on Iraq:

From Wikiquotes:

  • 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. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. [1]
  • We need to send the message that anyone who orders suicide bombings against Americans, or protects those who do, commits suicide himself. And U.S. marines will search every cave in Afghanistan to make that principle stick. You order, you die—absolutely, positively, you die. - New York Times, January 6, 2002
  • "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."

(New York Times, 11/30/03)

  • "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?"

(NPR's Fresh Air, 6/3/04)

  • "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."

(CBS's Face the Nation, 10/3/04)

  • "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."

(New York Times, 11/28/04)

  • "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, 9/25/05)

  • "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."

(New York Times, 9/28/05)

  • "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."

(CBS's Face the Nation, 12/18/05)

  • "We're at the beginning of I think the decisive I would say six months in Iraq, OK, because I feel like this election—you know, I felt from the beginning Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of it."

(PBS's Charlie Rose Show, 12/20/05)

  • "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."

(New York Times, 12/21/05)

  • "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, 1/23/06)

  • "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."

(CBS, 1/31/06)

  • "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."

(NBC's Today, 3/2/06)

  • "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, 4/23/06)

  • "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, 5/11/06)

At first, these predictions seemed to show that Friedman believed Iraq was in a highly path-dependent situation, and that the near-term was critical in determining the eventual outcome. Now, with the "six month" predictions going on for multiple years, it appears that actually no real predictions are being made.

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