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How Many Friedman Units for Afghanistan?

Ah, the Friedman unit, that beloved Internet tradition denoting the six-month increment many pundits believe will prove decisive in any war, only to be subject to an endless addition of … Friedman units. In the course of this very good New York Times piece outlining the stakes for President Obama now that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is spared a runoff election, this blind quote appears:

“We’re going to know in the next three to six months whether he’s doing anything differently — whether he can seriously address the corruption, whether he can raise an army that ultimately can take over from us and that doesn’t lose troops as fast as we train them,” one of Mr. Obama’s senior aides said. He insisted on anonymity because of the confidentiality surrounding the Obama administration’s own debate on a new strategy, and the request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the American military commander in Afghanistan, for upward of 44,000 more troops.

Really? We’ll know in less than a Friedman Unit? That actually seems like a rather short period of time. And the quote seems dubious. If Obama orders an escalation of troops, as he’s likely to do, then the United States will effectively be reducing its leverage on Karzai. So the Friedmans will roll onward. Will Obama work around Karzai, focusing on sub-national governance? Will Karzai let that happen?

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