Blogger Atrios lamented today that the Wikipedia entry for "Friedman (unit)" has been targeted for deletion through a merger into the "Atrios" article. A "Friedman", in the parlance of pundits and politicians discussing the Iraq War, is six months. Atrios coined the term on his blog to deal with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's constant invocation of "just six more months" to see how things were going in Iraq, something he began doing on November 30, 2003 and continued to do as late as May 11, 2006. While Friedman has lately moved on to saying that the U.S. should stay in Iraq for "10 months or 10 years," many government officials, pundits and politicians continue to move the goalposts on when it is acceptable to ascertain true progress in Iraq, and six months is an eerily common benchmark.
Last October, some enterprising Wikipedia editors created the "Friedman (unit)" article and began filling it with examples of public pronouncements that more time was needed before the Iraq War could be effectively judged. The lengths of time were denoted in F.U.s (Friedman Units); one for every six months.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia and can't be a repository of all human knowledge and ideas (which is also illustrated by their articles on members of Congress being primarily biographies, not constituent-oriented records of actions), and other editors recently targeted the article for merger under the Wikipedia rule against articles on neologisms.
The SourceWatch wiki and its Congresspedia collection of articles, however, were specifically designed to handle sticky partisan and ideological issues related to media, government and politics. So, in the interest of preserving the fantastic work done on the article by the Wikipedians and in fulfilling our niche purpose of aggregating and organizing the information out there on the narratives that shape the public discourse, we've adapted the Wikipedia page on our own "Friedman (Iraq War time unit)" article. We've added an additional chart that organizes statements made by members of Congress and links back to the section in the members' full profiles that covers their statements and actions on the Iraq War. We've even added one of our own: In July 2006, when he was fighting for reelection, Sen. Joe Lieberman promised that "by the end of this year [one F.U.], we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops." Two months after this promise expired and just after the "surge" plan was announced, Lieberman authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for "a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until... the end of the summer," which at the time was seven months away. That's 1.2 F.U.s for those keeping track (and we are).
- Read the Congresspedia article "Friedman (Iraq War time unit)"