A very long time
Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years.Well, there it is. I've been arguing for some time that neither Republicans nor Democrats are going to completely withdraw (see sidebar on the Iraqi Oil Law). But a crystal ball was hardly required.
John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.
After watching No End in Sight last night, a devastating and tightly drawn portrait of the Bush administration's disastrous behaviour in post-invasion Iraq, I came away with the distinct feeling that the entire debacle was designed to be exactly that. And it was done so exactly to justify a very long presence in that country no matter who took over the reigns.
Watch this film and listen to the Democrats now. See if you don't come away with the same feeling.