A couple of weeks ago Richard Engel said something so jaw-dropping on Meet the Press, to which no challenge was made, that I had to wonder if it did not represent conventional wisdom inside the beltway:
MR. RUSSERT: Richard Engel, you wrote a book called “Fist in the Hornet’s Nest,” describing the invasion of Iraq. What do you see as Act V?
MR. ENGEL: I think, ultimately, they’re—if they—if we stay on this current plan, you’re going to have a series of governments, eventually American troops are going to get pulled back to bases. They’ll be left there. There’ll be a civil war going on with the—in the country. It will divide naturally up into these three to five mini states, and the American troops will be mostly forgotten about. Because if they’re sitting around on the bases, the debate won’t be so intense here in the U.S., and I think they’ll be there for 10, 15 years.
Granted, the reason we’re in Iraq from day to day seems to change depending on whatever PR spin is coming out of Enron Ed’s war room, but usually it includes some version of defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” So now that the Democratic front runners are all planning on leaving 40,000 to 60,000 residual troops in Iraq for the next forseeable decade or so, do they really think nobody in Iraq is going to notice, or care?
I don’t seem to remember the US bases in Saudi Arabia going down too well with the Islamic world before 9/11. But what do I know, maybe they’ve all changed their minds.