Tom Friedman: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq by December 1

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By: E&P Staff

He’s become known in some quarters for perpetually looking for progress in Iraq about six months down the road. But now Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, is looking about 10 months off — but this time saying that all U.S. troops there should be re-deployed by that date.

It’s in his Wednesday column and it’s part of a larger deal that involves oil. Friedman feels Bush’s surge won’t work without something more and that opponents don’t have a viable option.

So his idea is to make the Iraqis get serious by giving them a firm exit date. “But at the same time,” he adds, “we have to impose a tax that creates a floor price of $3.50 a gallon for gasoline ? forever. This is also about leverage. It says to all the parties: we are going to conserve enough gasoline and spur enough clean alternatives to fossil fuels that no matter what you all do in the Middle East, we will not depend on you for energy….

“Once we?ve set a date to leave by and a gas price to live by, we, for the first time, will have choices in Iraq. We can stay to broker a deal if the parties want to be guided by their better angels or, if they want tribal instincts to reign, we can leave by Dec. 1 and insulate ourselves from Islam?s civil war with a new energy policy.

“To put it another way, if setting a date to leave miraculously brings them to their senses, our aspirations for the Iraqis will have been achieved, and we?ll be stronger. And if it doesn?t, but we have set an exit date and a gas price, we?ll be out of Iraq and more energy-secure ? and we?ll also be stronger.”

The rest of the column is at www.nytimes.com for subscribers.

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