Friedman (Iraq War time unit)

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Bush administration's war in Iraq
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One Friedman Unit, also known as "one Friedman" or "one F.U.", equals six months.[1]

The term is a tongue-in-cheek neologism coined by blogger Atrios[2] (Duncan Black) in reference to the discovery by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting of journalist Thomas Friedman's repeated use[3][4] 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. FAIR cited his use of the phrase as early as 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. The phrase has been widely picked up in online media, and increasingly in print media. Editor & Publisher[5], The American Prospect,[6] Think Progress (the official online publication of the Center for American Progress),[7] Daily Kos,[8] and Washington Monthly,[9] among others, have all made use of the term in their print or online editions, while the Huffington Post cited it as the "Best New Phrase" of 2006.[10]

On August 4, 2006, Friedman unveiled a new time metric of "10 months or 10 years",[11] arguing that the United States must either re-commit itself to fully stabilizing Iraq (10 years) or complete a phased withdrawal (10 months).

Examples by Thomas Friedman

Quotation-in-context FUs Begin date End date
"The next six months in Iraq... are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time"[3] 1.0 November 30, 2003 May 30, 2004
"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?"[3] 0.04, 0.17, 1.0 June 3, 2004 December 3, 2004
"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."[3] 1.0–1.5 October 3, 2004 April 3, 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."[3] ~0.5 November 28, 2004 February - March, 2005
"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"[3] 1.0 September 25, 2005 March 25, 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."[12][13] ~0.5 September 28, 2005 December 2005 - January 2006
"I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse"[3] 1.0 December 18, 2005 June 18, 2006
"We're at the beginning of, I think, the decisive, I would say, six months in Iraq."[14] 1.0 December 20, 2005 June 20, 2006
"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."[15] 1.0 December 21, 2005 June 21, 2006
"I think that we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding"[3] 1.0–1.5 January 23, 2006 July 23, 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."[12] 0.5-1.0 January 31, 2006 May 1 - July 31, 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."[3] 1.0–1.5 March 2, 2006 September 2, 2006
"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."Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag 1.67 or 20 (= 1 NFU) December 8, 2006 October 8, 2007 or December 8, 2016

Listing by member of Congress

Name House or Senate Quotation-in-context FUs Begin date End date
Evan Bayh Sen.
"Based on those discussions, [Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)] said he believes the next six months 'are going to be critically important to future developments in Iraq' -- particularly the relations between the turbulent nation's majority Shiites, Kurds and minority Sunni Arabs who were allied with Saddam Hussein's toppled government." 1.0 June 7, 2007 December 7, 2007
Joe Biden
(more Biden on Iraq)
"You only have about the next six months."[13][16] 1.0 November 21, 2005 May 21, 2006
"I think we have a six-month window here to get it right."[17] 1.0 November 27, 2005 May 27, 2006
"Next six months are going to tell the story."[18] 1.0 December 18, 2005 June 18, 2006
"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.'"[19] 2.0 July 7, 2006 July 7, 2007
John Boehner
(more Boehner on Iraq)
"I think it'll be rather clear in the next sixty to ninety days as to whether this plan's going to work."[20] 0.33-0.5 January 23, 2007 April 23, 2007
"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."[13][21] ~0.66-0.83 May 8, 2007 September/October 2007
Hillary Clinton
(more Clinton on Iraq)
"The next six to seven months are critical."[16] 1.0 - 1.1 December 1, 2003 May-June, 2004
Norm Coleman
(more Coleman on Iraq)
"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."[22] 1.0-2.0 January 24, 2007 July 24, 2007 - January 24, 2008
"There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of the Iraqis. I think everybody knows that, I really do."[13] ~0.66 May 10, 2007 September 2007
Susan Collins
(more Collins on Iraq)
On March 27, 2007, Collins said that if President Bush's strategy in Iraq did not show "significant results" by fall 2007, "then Congress should consider all options including a redefinition of our mission and a gradual but significant withdrawal of our troops next year." [23] 1.0, 3.0 March 27, 2007 September 2007, 2008
John Cornyn Sen.
"I think General Abizaid had it about right. He said he thinks we have about another four to six months to get this right. And I think that's where we're looking at."[13] 0.66-1.0 November 26, 2006 March 26 - May 26, 2007
Lindsey Graham Sen.
"Here is what my take on things are. That in the next six months, they can’t take over security without American help, but in the next six months they can have an agreement sharing the oil revenue with the Sunnis. They can have local and provincial elections that would empower Sunnis and Kurds, and they could do a great step forward, in terms of disarming the militia. And they could help us fight Iranian agents within Iraq."[24] 1.0 January 31, 2007 July 31, 2007
Chuck Hagel
(more Hagel on Iraq)
"The next six months will be "very critical" in Iraq, he said."[25] 1.0 August 18, 2005 February 18, 2006
John Kerry Sen.
"I will say unequivocally today that what the administration does in these next few days will decide the outcome of Iraq."[13][16] ~0.016 January 30, 2005 February 2-3, 2005
"We are entering a make-or-break six-month period."[13][16] 1.0 October 26, 2005 April 26, 2006
Jack Kingston
(more Kingston on Iraq)
"As the war develops in the next two crucial months, the political solidarity may change."[26] 0.33 May 4, 2007 July 4, 2007
Jon Kyl Sen.
"The strategies that you’ve heard discussed here today are either strategies for failure–in other words, if we’ve already lost the war, then obviously we ought to be leaving today, not wait for another six months. … There are a whole variety of things that are added to this new strategy that should make it succeed."[24] 1.0 January 14, 2007 July 14, 2007
"ROBERTS: General Petraeus has said that he won't know if it's working or not until the middle part of August. Do you think that's a fair timetable for him to ask for?

KYL: Yes, I do. I was there about six weeks ago, and there were already some early signs of success. But, as he said, you're going to have bad days and you're going to have good days."[27][28]

~0.66 April 24, 2007 c. August 15, 2007
Carl Levin
(more Levin on Iraq)
"U.S. troops should begin coming home from Iraq in the next four to six months"[29] 0.66-1.0 November 13, 2006 May 13, 2007
Joseph Lieberman
(more Lieberman on Iraq)
"by the end of this year [six months], we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops"[19] 1.0 July 7, 2006 December 31, 2006
"I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed... Gen. Petraeus says he will be able to see whether progress is occurring by the end of the summer, so let us declare a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until then... We are at a critical moment in Iraq--at the beginning of a key battle." [30] ~1.0 February 26, 2007 September 2007
Richard Lugar Sen.
"The next few months will be critical."[13][16] ~0.5 July 22, 2004 October-November 2004
John McCain Sen.
"We do not have time to spare. If we do not meaningfully improve security and services in Iraq over the next few months, it may be too late. We will risk an irreversible loss of Iraqi confidence and reinforce the efforts of extremists who seek our defeat and threaten Iraq's democratic future."[13] ~0.5 August 31, 2003 November - December 2003
"The next three-to-six months will be critical."[13][16] 0.5-1.0 September 10, 2003 December 10, 2003 - March 10, 2004
"we will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year"[31] 1.0–2.0 December 4, 2005 June 4, 2006 - December 4, 2006
"We're either going to lose this thing or win this thing in the next several months."[13] ~0.5 November 1, 2006 c. February 2007
"Mr. McCain said that the fate of the Iraqi venture would be decided in the next six months or so"[32] 1.0 November 13, 2006 May 13, 2007
"I think in the case of the Iraqi government cooperating and doing what's necessary, we can know fairly well in a few months."[13] ~0.5 February 4, 2007 c. May - June 2007
James Moran Rep.
"September is the key. 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."[13][21] ~0.66 May 22, 2007 September 2007
Barack Obama Sen.
"called for a 'gradual and substantial' reduction of U.S. forces... in four to six months"[33] 0.66-1.0 November 20, 2006 May 20, 2007
Pat Roberts Sen.
"I think the next few months will be crucial."[13][16] ~0.5 July 3, 2003 October 2003
"I don't think that this war can be sustained for more than six months if in face we don't see some progress."[13] 1.0 January 31, 2007 July 31, 2007
John Thune Sen.
"We're spinning our wheels, and we've got to turn the corner on this thing, and we've got to do it, I would say, in the next six months."[34][35] 1.0 December 17, 2006 June 17, 2007
Mark Udall Rep.
“The next six months are likely to be critical in determining whether the situation in Iraq turns worse or whether we may yet salvage a measure of political stability that addresses our long-term security interests in the region.“[12] 1.0 June 22, 2006 December 22, 2006
John Warner
(more Warner on Iraq)
"We've got, I think, six months."[13][16] 1.0 November 17, 2005 May 17, 2006
"we've got to stay firm for the next six months. It is a critical period..."[17] 1.0 November 27, 2005 May 27, 2006
"We should not at this time in these critical four to six months be worrying about a timetable to withdraw or even talking about it."[12] 0.66-1.0 November 30, 2005 March 30 - May 30, 2006
"In two or three months if this thing hasn't come to fruition and this level of violence is not under control, I think it's a responsibility of our government to determine: Is there a change of course we should take?"[13] 0.33-0.5 October 6, 2006 December 6, 2006 - January 6, 2007

All examples

These examples include those by Thomas L. Friedman, members of Congress and others.



Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Login required", Editor & Publisher. 
  2. Atrios (Sunday, May 21, 2006). "The Six Monthers", Eschaton. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines. FAIR (5/16/06). Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
  4. Thomas Friedman. dKosopedia. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
  5. "Tom Friedman: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq by December 1", Editor & Publisher (February 06, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  6. Klein, Ezra (December 8, 2006). "TAPPED", The American Prospect. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  7. "Gen. Petreaus [sic - correct spelling is Petraeus is in]", Think Progress (February 28, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  8. kos (Nov 27, 2006). "Midday open thread", Daily Kos. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  9. Drum, Kevin (November 1, 2006). "Meltdown in Iraq...", The Washington Monthly. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  10. Rachel Sklar, Nick Douglas, Sven Hodges, Melissa Lafsky, Ankush Khardori (January 2, 2007). "Media Winners of 2006: Honorable Mentions (Rapid-Fire Round II)", The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  11. Friedman, Thomas L. (November 29, 2006). "Ten Months or Ten Years", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Fabius Maximus, "A Sampler of Quotes by the Good and the Great about the Iraq War," Defense and the National Interest, November 12, 2006.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 "Iraq Timeline: The Broken Record on 'the Next Few Months'," Center for American Progress, August 8, 2007.
  14. Friedman Units (FU) of Iraq, The Agonist.
  15. "Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines," Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, May 16, 2006.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 Dana Milbank, "The Time Is (Perpetually) Now," Washington Post, November 30, 2005.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Transcript for November 27. Meet the Press, MSNBC, November 27, 2005. Guests: John Warner, Joe Biden, David Broder, David Gregory, Eugene Robinson & Judy Woodruff.
  18. Face the Nation, CBS, December 18, 2005.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Lieberman, Lamont Spar in Conn. Primary Debate" (Debate Transcript), NBC 30 (via Washington Post), July 7, 2006.
  20. Sargent, Greg (Jan 24, 2007). "Boehner Sets Deadline For "Surge's" Success: Two To Three Months", TPM Cafe. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Dan Froomkin, "Four More Months?" Washington Post, May 8, 2007.
  22. 24 wurzerc soucoleman (RAM).
  23. - note that this link is now dead.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Time's Up on Escalation. They said ’six months’– six months ago…," Think Progress, 2007.
  25. "Hagel: Iraq growing more like Vietnam," CNN, August 18, 2005.
  26. Charles Babington, "Congressional Republicans increasingly worry about Iraq war," Associated Press (via Boston Globe), May 4, 2007.
  27. Atrios, " Middle Part of August," Eschaton, August 18, 2007.
  28. American Morning (transcript), CNN, April 24, 2007.
  29. Martin Sieff, "Benchmarks: A necessary service -- Part 1," United Press International, July 30, 2007.
  30. Joseph Lieberman, "The Choice on Iraq" (op-ed), Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2007.
  31. Meet the Press (transcript), NBC, December 4, 2005.
  32. John M. Broder, "POLITICAL MEMO; In Call for More Troops, McCain Places His Bet on Iraq," New York Times, November 14, 2006.
  33. - dead link
  34. Chad, "Six Months," Clean Cut Kid, December 19, 2006.
  35. Gale, Dennis (December 17, 2007). "SD. senator thinks Iraq policy will change", Bismark Tribune. Retrieved on 2007-06-18. 

External resources

External articles

Acknowledgment: This article was originally adapted from the Wikipedia article "Friedman (unit)" under the GNU Free Document License"