Another bit of news from Iraq that reinforces the General's new slogan, "From quagmire to colony is but a step":
American troops may still be in Iraq four years from now, Gen. Tommy Franks told Congress on Thursday. The wartime commander told the House Armed Services Committee: "I anticipate we'll be involved in Iraq in the future. Whether that means two years or four years, I don't know.''Maybe four years? Does anyone really believe this?
Franks nicely soft-pedaled the time frame of US occupation, pitching "four years" as the outside estimate. Come on! It will most likely take at least two full years just to pacify Iraq, and that with the number of troops at 150,000. The full job of conquering the country could be done more quickly with more troops, but Bush won't touch that option with a ten-foot pole -- at least not until 2005, if you know what I mean. Considering the very low morale of many US soldiers in Iraq ("pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]" -- that from a US soldier himself!), we might see the absolute numbers of troops at a moment in time fall but the overall number flowing through the country over time rise dramatically.
Then the nation-building operation should take another 5-10 years. Certainly US troops need not stay at a level of 150,000 for ten years, but I would wager there will be thousands of them in the country even into 2010s. And anybody thinking of joining the National Guard in the next decade had better stock up on desert gear.