Wow! And there it is! Thomas Friedman has rendered his latest judgment on how many months we will need to see whether Iraq can still succeed, and the answer, at long last, isn’t six; it’s zero!
By now it should be clear that Iraq is going to be what it is going to be. We’ve never had sufficient troops there to shape Iraq in our own image. We simply can’t go on betting so many American soldiers and resources that Iraqis will one day learn to live together on their own — without either having to be bludgeoned by Saddam or baby-sat by us.
So either we get help or get out. That is, if President Bush believes staying in Iraq can still make a difference, then he needs to muster some allies because the American people are not going to sustain alone — nor should they — a long-shot bet that something decent can still be built in Baghdad.
If the president can’t get help, then he has to initiate a phased withdrawal: now. Because the opportunity cost this war is exacting on our country and its ability to focus on anything else is out of all proportion to what might still be achieved in Iraq by our staying, with too few troops and too few friends.
All of which is a perfectly reasonable thing to say, and it’s also perfectly natural that Friedman was prompted to take the final logical step by a visit to China for the World Economic Forum, where he realized that being a great power is actually a lot easier, not harder, when you aren’t fighting grindingly expensive, lethally unpopular counterinsurgency wars:
That is where we are in Iraq. We’re wasting our brains. We’re wasting our people. We’re wasting our future. China is not.
Again: perfectly reasonable. The question is: without Friedman Units, how will Atrios set his watch anymore?
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