A measurement representing six months.

The term was coined by blogger Duncan Black, who runs the Eschaton website, and it's named for New York Times columnist/cabbie-fabricator Thomas Friedman.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting made an interesting observation in the middle of 2006 about mustache-enthusiast Friedman's conditional support for George W. Bush's Iraq War: Friedman would repeatedly and forcefully insist that "the next six months" would be the crucial period for deciding whether a positive outcome was possible for the war.

FAIR found the first instance of Friedman's time-sensitive predictions back in his November 30, 2003 NYT column, when he said: "The next six months in Iraq -- which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there -- are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."

On June 3, 2004, on NPR's "Fresh Air" program, Friedman said: "What I absolutely don't understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of -- I know a lot of these guys -- reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it's over. I don't get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what's the rush? Can we let this play out, please?"

On CBS' "Face the Nation" on October 3, 2004, flat-earth-believer Friedman said: "What we're gonna find out, Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war."

On September 25, 2005, Friedman said, on NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think we're in the end game now... I think we're in a six-month window here where it's going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt I think the next congressional election -- that's my own feeling -- let alone the presidential one."

Back on "Face the Nation" on December 18, 2005, Friedman said: ""We've teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together."

In his column in the Times on December 21, 2005, Friedman said: ""The only thing I am certain of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis make of it -- and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain guardedly hopeful."

On CBS on January 31, 2006, Friedman said: "I think we're in the end game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We've got for the first time an Iraqi government elected on the basis of an Iraqi constitution. Either they're going to produce the kind of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near term, in which case America will stick with it, or they're not, in which case I think the bottom's going to fall out."

On the Today show on March 2, 2006, Friedman said: "I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq."

On May 11, 2006, Friedman told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball": "Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months -- probably sooner -- whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're going to have to just let this play out."

And on and on and on. There's always another six months, always a new justification or excuse to let more soldiers and civilians die needlessly and to continue to drain the nation's coffers for no reason. Time is cheap when it's not your neck or your pocketbook on the line. Hell, the longer the war goes on, the more profitable it'll be for Friedman -- there are lots of columns and books he can write about how the next six months will be crucial.

Of course, Friedman is not the only offender here -- reporters, pundits, politicians, White House officials, generals, the common folk, and more -- on both sides of the political aisle -- have all used a wildly sliding time scale to justify staying in Iraq for longer and longer and longer periods. Variations of "the next six months" have been used by Joe Biden, Tony Blair, John Bolton, General George Casey, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Mary Matalin, General Barry McCaffrey, John McCain, Barack Obama, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and who knows how many others. But Friedman's repeated and enthusiastic use of the term has helped establish him as the Ultimate Ninja Master of The Next Six Months.

As a measurement of time, the Friedman unit is fairly easy to use. A statement that the next six months in Iraq is crucial equals one Friedman unit (commonly abbreviated down to FU). A statement that the next three months in Iraq is crucial? That's a half-FU. Nine months? 1.5 FUs. A year? Two FUs. Another decade? A whopping 20 FUs. You can use it for other time-measuring chores, too. How long will it be before your cousin's tour-of-duty is over? Another 1.8 FUs, unless he gets stop-lossed. How long 'til your son turns eighteen? Six FUs. How long 'til you finally pass the age where you won't get drafted? Ten FUs. How long has it been since Osama bin Laden killed almost 3,000 people? As of this writing, it's been over 11 FUs. How long will the Bush twins spend fighting in Iraq? No more than zero FUs. See how handy it is?

Research:
FAIR
Atrios

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