Tom Friedman: ‘Staying the Course Is Pointless,’ It’s Time To ‘Disengage’ From Iraq

For two-and-a-half years, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has been arguing that that we need to give the Bush administration’s “stay the course” approach six more months. Some examples from FAIR:

“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, 10/3/04]

“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, 9/25/05]

“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, 12/18/05]

Now, Friedman has finally run out of patience. In today’s New York Times, Friedman writes “It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war” and it’s time to “disengage.” An excerpt:

[T]hree years of efforts to democratize Iraq are not working. That means “staying the course” is pointless, and it’s time to start thinking about Plan B “” how we might disengage with the least damage possible.

…But the administration now has to admit what anyone “” including myself “” who believed in the importance of getting Iraq right has to admit: Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, it is not happening, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives.

Finally, the war in Iraq has so divided us at home and abroad that leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. All these problems are connected. We need to deal with Iran and Syria, but from a position of strength “” and that requires a broad coalition.

The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq, the harder it will be to build such a coalition, and the stronger the enemies of freedom will become.

Welcome to the club Tom.