Thomas Ricks reports on the plans for a permanent “post-occupation” force of 50,000 or so troops in Iraq. This is probably the best way to operationalize talk of “winning” the war. The goal, according to the war’s proponents, is to create the kind of situation where the country is sufficiently stable and under sufficiently docile leadership as to be willing to play host to a series of permanent bases.
But, of course, it’s precisely the widespread — and, crucially, accurate — Iraqi perception that US forces aren’t there just to help them out and aren’t planning on leaving that drives the appeal of both Sunni and Shiite nationalist groups that are opposing us.
UPDATE: Re-reading the piece it dawns on me that this plan is tragically consistent with the Democratic mantra of withdrawing “combat forces” from Iraq but leaving troops for training, force protection, and counterterrorism. Bill Richardson says let’s really withdraw.