U.S. ponders a 'Korea model' for long-term presence in Iraq


Senior Member
Mar 13, 2007
WASHINGTON: For the first time, the Bush administration is beginning publicly to discuss basing U.S. troops in Iraq for years, even decades to come, a subject so fraught with political land mines that officials are tiptoeing around the inevitable questions about what the long-term mission would be there....

.....But it was not until Wednesday that Bush's spokesman, Tony Snow, publicly reached for the Korea example in talking about Iraq - setting off an analogy war between the White House and critics who charged that the administration was again disconnected from the realities of Iraq. Snow said Korea was one way to think about how the mission could evolve into an "over-the-horizon support role" whenever U.S. troops are no longer patrolling the streets of Baghdad.

The next day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates also mentioned Korea, saying that establishing a long-term garrison was a lot smarter than how the United States handled its departure from Vietnam, "where we just left lock, stock and barrel." He added that "the idea is more a model of a mutually agreed arrangement whereby we have a long and enduring presence but under the consent of both parties and under certain conditions."

Korea is an attractive analogy for the Bush White House for a host of reasons: A half-century later, South Korea is a raucous democracy and one of the biggest economies in the world. The North is a broken, isolated state, though one that, improbably, has not only survived for half a century but has built a small nuclear arsenal.

But Korea is also the kind of analogy that stokes the fears of those who see Iraq leading to unending war.

The model suggests a near-permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, though presumably with far fewer forces than the nearly 150,000 now in place.........



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