Thomas Friedman Hits Iraqi ‘Vacation’ Plan

By: E&P Staff

Thomas Friedman, in his column for The New York Times on Wednesday, hits the plan by the Iraqi Parliament to take August off, opening with these words: “I?ve been in Baghdad in the summer and it is really hot. But you know what? It is a lot hotter when you?re in a U.S. military uniform, carrying a rifle and a backpack, sweltering under a steel helmet and worrying that a bomb can be thrown at you from any direction. One soldier told me he lost six pounds in one day. I?m sure the Iraqi Parliament is air-conditioned.

“So let?s get this straight: Iraqi parliamentarians, at least those not already boycotting the Parliament, will be on vacation in August so they can be cool, while young American men and women, and Iraqi Army soldiers, will be fighting in the heat in order to create a proper security environment in which Iraqi politicians can come back in September and continue squabbling while their country burns.

“Here is what I think of that: I think it?s a travesty ? and for the Bush White House to excuse it with a Baghdad weather report shows just how much it has become a hostage to Iraq.”

He concludes by calling for a “surge” in diplomacy, while noting that President Bush has no “leverage” with the Iraqi leaders because they know he doesn’t want to exit the war: “Quitting Iraq would be morally and strategically devastating. But to just drag out the surge, with no road map for a political endgame, with Iraqi lawmakers going on vacation, with no consequences for dithering, would be just as morally and strategically irresponsible.

“We owe Iraqis our best military ? and diplomatic effort ? to avoid the disaster of walking away. But if they won?t take advantage of that, we owe our soldiers a ticket home.”

The column is available in full behind the pay wall at www.nytimes.com.

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