27 June, 2007

Admitting the obvious

At long last, the administration is saying what should have been obvious (and admitted) from the start. From Reuters:

President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.

The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.

Democrats in control of the U.S. Congress have been pressing Bush to agree to a timetable for pulling troops from Iraq, an idea firmly opposed by the president.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would like to see a U.S. role in Iraq ultimately similar to that in South Korea in which "you get to a point in the future where you want it to be a purely support model."

"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters.

Iraq is too important, geopolitically and strategically, to leave. But note something else: the model being suggested is South Korea, not Japan or Germany. South Korea was a dictatorship (albeit a friendly one) for a long time. Democracy was desired, and encouraged insofar that it didn't threaten US interests, but it was never the primary goal of American policy. It's a long way from the neocon vision of remaking the Middle East. It also fits the architecture of the new American embassy, Fort Baghdad.

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