“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. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis to reap the wind?”
Friedman, Thomas L. 2005. “The Endgame in Iraq.” The New York Times. Sept. 28: A27.
Twenty Friedman units ago, out columnist announced his support for Benjamin Netanyahu over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the upcoming Likud Party leadership election. Why?
“Because the Likud under Bibi, and without Ariel Sharon, will be free to be itself – to represent the lunatic right in Israel, to become a fringe party and drive over a cliff. Mr. Sharon will then also be free to be himself, to form new party with other center-right and center-left figures, a party that can give Israel a solid majority for making a final settlement with the Palestinians – provided they ever get their act together and turn Gaza, their ministate, into something more like Dubai and less like Mogadishu.”
In the event, Sharon narrowly won the Likud primary, but we got to test out Friedman’s prediction anyway. Within two months, Sharon had left Likud to form Kadima, and in 2006 Kadima leader Ehud Olmert was prime minister. Likud did not fade, away, of course, there was not final settlement, and there is no Dubai on the Mediterranean. Instead Netanyahu gained his second term as prime minister in 2009.
Friedman, Thomas L. 2005. “Rooting for Bibi is Rooting for Israel.” The New York Times. Sept. 23: A19.
Today, we see the 10th anniversary of the appearance of the elusive implied Friedman unit.
Writing about the prospects of a sectarian civil war in Iraq, Friedman writes, “If there is a constitution basically supported by all the key parties, a decent outcome is still possible.” Presumably time is of the essence. The next, I don’t know, six months are likely to be critical.
And then a threat from the same source who said that the reason for the war was that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Iraqi people needed to be told to “Suck on this.”
“And if the dikes of stability that U.S. soldiers are holding together give way, well, you all will envy the people of New Orleans. Most of them had somewhere to go when their floods hit. You and your neighbors will not.” True enough for New Orleans if you consider the Superdome to have been a satisfactory place. And of course the incipient civil war in Iraq is much like a natural disaster. Certainly, nobody like Thomas L. Friedman helped to create the conditions that would make it inevitable.
Friedman, Thomas L. 2005. “New Orleans and Baghdad” The New York Times. Sept. 9: A25.