Iraq: White House plans 50,000 troops for decades

The Think Progress blog notes this disturbing confluence of news stories:

The New York Times reports [June 11] that the Bush administration is making plans to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely:

Mr. Bush on Friday made clear that the American commitment to the country will be long-term. Officials say the administration has begun to look at the costs of maintaining a force of roughly 50,000 troops there for years to come, roughly the size of the American presence maintained in the Philippines and Korea for decades after those conflicts.

On Meet the Press [June 11], Retired Gen. Barry McCaffery said it was likely that the U.S. will keep at least 50,000 in Iraq for the next 10 years:

GEN. McCAFFREY: Well, if it’s a government that works, we can probably sustain the U.S. troops, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 troops there for 10 years and hope that Iraq turns into a responsible governmental entity that doesn’t attack its neighbors, doesn’t build WMD. I still think that’s a likely outcome if the political system can come together on the ground.

Meanwhile, conservatives in Congress stripped a provision from the supplemental spending bill that would have ruled out permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. [Reuters, June 9]

See our last post on Iraq, and the politics of escalation.