Spencer Ackerman translates the White House’s principles for perpetual occupation of Iraq out of the obfuscatorese:
A “democratic Iraq” here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That’s something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government — with some justification — as a recipe for a future coup.
I’ll be interested to see what the Democratic hawks have to say about that. For a long time, they’ve been getting by with things like Shawn Brimley’s formula that “The next President will need options beyond simply ‘leave ASAP’ and ‘stay the course.'” This, though, relies on a strawman characterization of Bush’s policies to generate the sense of separation from the administration. The question here isn’t whether we should literally stay the course, the question is whether or not we should undertake an open-ended commitment to propping up whatever form of Iraqi government will agree to pay host to our military bases.