Friday, September 21, 2007

Curtain down on War of Many Friedmans

It seems Thomas ‘Give War A Chance’ Friedman may finally have moved on:

Obviously, no one wants to just pick up and leave, and leave behind some kind of humanitarian disaster. But at the same time, just kind of dragging it out and waiting for the Iraqis to figure it out on their own also strikes me as slightly irresponsible.

But it’s been a long road for Friedman:

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, 30/11/2003

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, 3/06/2004

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, 3/10/2004

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, 28/11/2004

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, 25/09/2005

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, 28/09/2005

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, 18/12/2005

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, 20/12/2005

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, 21/12/2005

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, 23/01/2006

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.

  • CBS, 31/01/2006

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.

  • NBC’s Today, 2/03/2006

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.

  • CNN, 23/04/2006

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, 11/05/2006

(via FAIR)

Goat Friday

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bellicose bumpkin Bolton hurls probable epithet

One of my favourite lines from any conservative commentator, anywhere, anytime, was the following from expatriate Canadian Mark Steyn:

Canadians, who are the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies on the continent, they don’t like Kyoto [i.e., the Kyoto Protocol].

Steyn, a sometime beneficiary of Canadian ‘socialist’ infrastructure, seems fond of spitting at his sometime countrymen. That’s his right, certainly, as it is his prerogative to couch his critique in the idiom of the schoolyard.

But it’s sad when a mouthpiece for the more aggressive strands of US foreign policy employs a similar approach on the world stage. The US’s former Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is perhaps the most strident exponent of a brand of with-us-or-against-us diplomacy that has won him enmity from both sides of politics in his homeland.

On last night’s edition of ABC-TV’s Lateline, Tony Jones tried to wrap up his interview with Bolton by asking him a specific question:

TONY JONES: Now our final question, John Bolton, you’d be aware there’s an Australian election coming up, a new Australian government will be in place most likely by the end of this year. If a Labor government were to win, they’ve promised a unilateral withdrawal of Australian troops from southern Iraq. What do you think the consequences of that would be for security in Iraq?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I suppose if Australia wants to behave like New Zealand, that’s up to you all.

I believe the subtext of Bolton’s reply may have been something like:

Well, if y’all want to behave like the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies on the Pacific Rim, y’all can go to blazes, consarn it!

For the benefit of Bolton, who presumably had misheard the question, Jones repeated:

TONY JONES: What do you think the consequences would be, though, for Iraqi security?

JOHN BOLTON: I think the United States would have to fill the gap, which would be unfortunate. I hope Australia keeps its troops there as part of the coalition. But that’s certainly your decision.


It’s certainly your decision, but if y’all do withdraw your troops, I’d reckon y’all’d have to be the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies etc. etc. etc.

I guess an Australian journalist can only take so much arrant nonsense from an overbearing foreign policy hack like foreigner Bolton. It was at this point that something must have snapped, and Jones tacked into polemic:

TONY JONES: Well, I mean, it was a British decision too. I mean, I don’t suppose you’re suggesting that they’re behaving in the New Zealand fashion?

Well, I mean, it’s nice that Jones leapt to the defence of Australian sovereignty — albeit, by borrowing some from the Brits.

And, sure, it may have been expecting too much for Jones to remind Bolton that New Zealand had the good sense not to follow Bolton’s political masters into the most disastrous foreign policy failure in decades.

But was it really necessary to fall into the tiresome idiom of that bellicose bumpkin?

Lost in all this, of course, was Jones’ original question, regarding the consequences for security in Iraq of drawing down Australian troops. Bolton’s grudging half-answer in turn only begged a further question of how the clueless hack thinks his country’s stretched military would “fill the gap” left by departing British and, perhaps, Australian troops.