Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 The Broken Record 

Many other bloggers have written extensively about the peculiar habit among war supporters to constantly defer on when things might finally stabilize or improve in Iraq. In fact, since mid-2003 or so, a term has come up in the liberal blogosphere, popularized especially by Atrios, which typifies this form of punting - it is aptly called the Friedman Unit, or F.U., named after its initial and most common practitioner, columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. A Friedman Unit is defined as "six months", which is usually the amount of time that the proponent says it will take before we can either 1) know how a certain strategy in Iraq is really proceeding, or 2) know if the country is really going to spiral out of control, requiring withdrawal or what-have-you. Of course, many other pro-war columnists and pundits and other ne'er-do-wells often use this same unit, in which case they advocate "staying the course" for at least another F.U.

As I mentioned, this kind of deferring has been going on ceaselessly in editorials and conservative blogs for over 3 years now, and we are constantly being told to wait "another six months" or so before making any real changes to our Iraq policy. In that time, the situation has clearly gotten worse and worse and worse, in spite of all the handwringing about "progress". Tens of thousands of civilians are dying every year now in sectarian and terrorist violence, both forms often intermixed to make them inseparable. Whatever window of opportunity there had been to make things better in Iraq with our presence has long since passed, but many in Washington (and even a few generals in Iraq) seem to think we just need to be more patient, even with the recent electoral results that strongly point to a desire to stop this insane policy.

So guess what we hear today at a Congressional hearing with Gen. John Abizaid:
"Our troop posture needs to stay where it is," for the time being, he said.

In one of the day's most contentious clashes, Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., challenged Abizaid on his analysis of the situation and complained that he was advocating no major changes in U.S. policy. McCain, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, has called for adding thousands more U.S. combat troops in Iraq to help fight the insurgency and halt sectarian violence in Baghdad.

"I'm of course disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said that is not an acceptable condition," McCain said.

In response, Abizaid said he was not arguing for the status quo. He said the key change that is needed now is to place more U.S. troops inside the Iraqi army and police units to train and advise these forces in planning and executing missions.

Pressed by Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I., on how much time the U.S. and Iraqi government have to reduce the violence in Baghdad before it spirals beyond control, Abizaid said, "Four to six months."

It just never changes, does it? "Stay the course" lives on.

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