It's funny, because so far the military conflict that the Iraq War most resembles isn't Vietnam or World War II, but the TR-boosted Spanish-American War - a quick and painless military victory over a second-rate power, driven by a mix of idealism, jingoism, and power politics, that segued into a long and grueling counter-insurgency campaign.
This is quite right, which is why everyone should read John Judis's book.
Speaking of which, I have some serious doubts about the Supreme Leader's thinking below. The upshot of all this analogizing is that, just as we were in Cuba and Puerto Rico, I think the current administration is really quite deeply committed to an enduring military presence in Iraq and to exercising considerable influence over the Iraqi government. If that can be accomplished in a manner consistent with drawing down 75 percent of our troops then, obviously, Bush will do that. Saying he wants to stay in Iraq forever isn't equivalent to saying he wants 120,000 troops to stay there forever (that would be a lot). But if it isn't possible to draw down to that level, then we won't draw down. It's important to understand that it's already the case that the main thing our troops are doing is "force-protection" -- it's hard to station a small deployment in a hostile area. Odds are the deployment will keep the insurgency burning. This will make it unsafe to move to a small force. Bush won't want to move to a total withdrawal. And so we'll continue to have a big deployment.
Remember that two years ago most liberals thought there would be a major drawdown before the 2004 elections. It didn't happen. Throughout 2005 there was also lots of talk about how Bush would be withdrawing in time for the 2005 election. It didn�t happen then, and it's not going to happen in 2006. I hope -- I pray, really -- that Bush decides to withdraw troops before the 2008 election (or sooner!) but I'm not going to count on it happening. What's more, anytime Bush wants to improve his standing in the polls by doing something crazy like implementing better policies, my plan is to applaud him.
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