There's a question I've been asking, in different forms, for about four years now. (The oldest versions are in the lost archives of Talking Points Memo. Lesson: Do not trust any server but your own.)
I asked it here, last week, and in Swampland comments a day or two ago.
Today's version goes like this. The end result in Iraq is supposed to be an elected government, a sovereign state that does not have any effective national defense force, with no American "combat troop" presence that is allied with the US.
Because this is pretty clearly defines a null set of outcomes--no representative government in Iraq could be pro-American, given recent past history, America's tight relationship with Israel and the affinity of the majority Shiites with the Iranian government--I've been asking what we really should expect to happen in Iraq in the medium to long term.
Today, Joe Klein provides some of the euphemisms that will be used to describe the permanent occupation of Iraq.
(G)oing forward, the relationship between Iraq's security forces and the U.S. military--locked in by spare parts, logistics and training regimes--could be every bit as significant as Iraq's fraternal Shi'ite ties with Iran.
What this actually means is that the US will have a significant troop presence, including armor and air "training" forces for Iraqi's who aren't allowed to fly planes or drive tanks. The logistical tail for this force will continue to be provided by the US military. And, naturally, the US will play a critical role in deciding who will be allowed to be a candidate for the positions of Prime Minister and President.
Any bets on the over/under for June 2010? I'm going with 50,000. That's the number the permanent bases were built for. That's the number Cheney said the US would draw down to in a few months, after Saddam's capture.
It will be interesting to watch how the euphemisms grow, flower, and take seed in the media. It will also be interesting to see whether Iran will sit still for this. It's no wonder that, worldwide, the US is seen as the most pressing threat to peace.