With Korea as Model, Bush Team Ponders Long Support Role in Iraq





For the first time, the Bush administration is beginning publicly to 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....

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 world’s biggest economies. The North is a broken, isolated state, though one that, improbably, has not only survived for more than 50 years 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 presence in Iraq, though presumably with far fewer troops than the nearly 150,000 now in place.


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