Four More Years?

The situation in Iraq is far, far bloodier than we knew, according to a new study published in the Lancet. The situation in Iraq is not getting any better, according to U.S. generals. But the Department of Defense has to allow for the real possibility that some 140,000 American soldiers will be stuck in the country for four more years, according to the Army chief of staff. Can the U.S. troop presence in Iraq really be sustained at these levels as the country devolves into sectarian civil war? Is the United States making the situation worse rather than better?

Reuters reports that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said Wednesday that as he projected the needs of the armed services, he had to plan on there being 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq through 2010. He was careful to say that he was making no predictions about what might happen in Iraq, and that keeping 15 combat brigades there for so long was not a foregone conclusion. To Schoomaker, however, it was obviously a real enough possibility that he needed to keep on hand the munitions that such a force might need.
The sources of Schoomaker's prudent pessimism are not far to seek. On Wednesday, George W. Bush again laid out his rationale for declining to consider a drawdown of U.S. forces. He said that if the "terrorists" were not defeated in Iraq, they would come after the U.S. on its own soil. "If we were to abandon that country before the Iraqis can defend their young democracy, the terrorists would take control of Iraq and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America." Read on...


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