With S.Korea as Model, U.S. Ponders Long Role in Iraq

#1
For the first time, the Bush administration is beginning to publicly discuss basing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades to come, a subject so fraught with political landmines that officials are tiptoeing around the inevitable questions about what the United States’ long-term mission would be there.

President Bush has long talked about the need to maintain an American military presence in the region, without saying exactly where. Several visitors to the White House say that in private, he has sounded intrigued by what he calls the “Korea model,” a reference to the large American presence in South Korea for the 54 years since the armistice that ended open hostilities between North and South.

But it was not until Wednesday that Mr. Bush’s spokesman, Tony Snow, publicly reached for Korea 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. He said the Korea precedent was one way to think about how America’s mission could evolve into an “over-the-horizon support role,” whenever American troops are no longer patrolling the streets of Baghdad.

The next day, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also mentioned Korea, saying that establishing a long-term American garrison there was a lot smarter than the handling of 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.”
In full

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/w...gin&adxnnlx=1180844224-2QZNeUVTvyKDH31FKQMU2A
 

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