Thomas Friedman: Up to Iraqis Now
Thomas Friedman, who has over the years earned both enmity from the Right for his criticisms of the Iraq War and derision from the Left by his continual calls for another six months, leaves plenty for everyone in his latest column.
On the one hand, the weekend elections were another “very good day for Iraq” and “a big deal.” On the other, Iran is stronger than ever and the terrorists and Islamists are not yet defeated.
On the one hand, “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right.” On the other, “It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly.” Then again, “democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.”
On the one hand, the Iraqi “people are ready to use politics to resolve disputes, not just arms.” On the other, “We need Iraqi leaders to prove to their people that they are not just venal elites out to seize the spoils of power more than to seize this incredible opportunity to remake Iraq. We need to see real institution-builders emerge, including builders of a viable justice system and economy. And we need to be wary that too big an army and too much oil can warp any regime.”
At this juncture, though, he doesn’t think we need another Friedman Unit. We’re on a departure timeline and should stick to it. And all we can do now is hope for the best!
On the Right hand, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Jennifer Rubin, and Archy Cary all see this as Friedman giving Bush his due and admitting that his own pessimism was proven wrong. On the Left, Atrios snarks, “Tom thinks that if the people want a pony enough, the pony will come. Tom also thinks it matters if he keeps clapping.”
It seems to me that the solution is obvious: Simply make sure that there are plenty of hamburger joints spread throughout Iraq’s provinces. Surely, no country with a McDonald’s has ever fought a civil war.