Last week, in their now infamous New York Times op-ed, Brookings Institution analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack declared “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”
On Fox News Sunday yesterday, O’Hanlon and Pollack put a timeframe on their call for stay the course: six months. “It’s basically saying nothing more dramatic than give it six more months or so, maybe nine more months,” said O’Hanlon. “I agree with Mike entirely that we can’t give this much more time,” added Pollack. Watch it:
The media watchdogs at FAIR noted in 2006 that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman had been repeatedly claiming the “decisive” six months in Iraq were right around the corner. FAIR reported that Friedman’s “‘decisive’ six months have lasted two and a half years.”
Many in the blogosphere warned that O’Hanlon and Pollack were engaging in the same tactic. As Atrios has frequently noted, many proponents of the war have offered “Friedman Units (F.U.)” — i.e. a continual “six-month period that would be required in order to determine the outcome of the Iraq War” — as a way to seek public acquiescence for the occupation.
This is not the first time O’Hanlon and Pollack have called for six months to bring stability to Iraq. On March 1, 2007, O’Hanlon penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal arguing for the same extension he called for yesterday:
There are good reasons to give the war effort, now almost four years old, another six to nine months before concluding that the current strategy should be discarded and a much different one…
One year earlier — on March 2, 2006 — Pollack told students at Georgetown that there was “a critical six month window of opportunity to bring some form of stability to Iraq.”
As Gregory Djerejian wrote on Friday, O’Hanlon and Pollack appear to be perpetually “guilty of rose colored glasses” when it comes to Iraq.
CHRIS WALLACE: And absent serious moves toward national reconciliation, does the surge make sense?
MICHAEL O’HANLON: I think it makes sense for a while to see if the momentum can spread from the battlefield to the political theater. Ken’s the greater expert on Iraqi politics than I, but my overall impression is if you don’t get even some top-level, top-down movement coming up fairly soon, this thing can’t work. Politics trumps the battleground in the end.
And I think, therefore, this is an interim report from us on the surge, and it’s basically saying nothing more dramatic than give it six more months or so, maybe nine more months.
If things don’t start to progress in that time, I personally would be a lot less optimistic and/or in favor of trying to prod the Iraqis to dump Prime Minister Maliki. That’s me, not Ken.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you, Ken, do you see any signs that Maliki and the parliament are getting their act together?
KENNETH POLLACK: Basically none. The political side was absolutely dead in the water, exactly as Mike is suggesting.
You know, one thing to keep in mind is that as General Petraeus has repeatedly pointed out, the idea is that with security and local- level economic and political development, you create some space. There’s an expectation that the politics is going to lag. It’s going to take longer.
But this level of political stalemate is absolutely unacceptable. And I agree with Mike entirely that we can’t give this much more time.