Friedman returns

Friedman returns

: The NY Times’ Tom Friedman is back — he sure picked a lousy time to leave — and he’s still resolute in the need for a beachfront of democracy in Iraq but he’s pissed about the execution of that effort:

Being away has not changed my belief one iota in the importance of producing a decent outcome in Iraq, to help move the Arab-Muslim world off its steady slide toward increased authoritarianism, unemployment, overpopulation, suicidal terrorism and religious obscurantism. But my time off has clarified for me, even more, that this Bush team can’t get us there, and may have so messed things up that no one can….

What I resent so much is that some of us actually put our personal politics aside in thinking about this war and about why it is so important to produce a different Iraq. This administration never did. Mr. Kerry’s own views on Iraq have been intensely political and for a long time not well thought through. But Mr. Kerry is a politician running for office. Mr. Bush is president, charged with protecting the national interest, and yet from the beginning he has run Iraq policy as an extension of his political campaign.

Friends, I return to where I started: We’re in trouble in Iraq. We have to immediately get the Democratic and Republican politics out of this policy and start honestly reassessing what is the maximum we can still achieve there and what every American is going to have to do to make it happen. If we do not, we’ll end up not only with a fractured Iraq, but with a fractured America, at war with itself and isolated from the world.

I’d say he’s appropriately tough on Bush but inappropriately easy on Kerry.

And Friedman is being too easy on Friedman. I’m distrubed that he, like the candidates, is throwing up his hands at the difficulty of the task he supported. He should be pushing the candidates — both of them — step by step toward the means of victory for democracy, humanity, modernity, and decency in Iraq.

Mr. Friedman, I was one of many who endorsed this war because of your own doctrine there. Now it’s time to follow through and turn strategy into reality. It’s not your fault. It is your responsibility.