A reader writes:

Is it accurate to use the term "occupiers" - if it is meant in a colonial sense - when the Iraqis have the power to and may well reject long term basing of US forces?

Do bilateral and multilateral defense agreements (such as with Korea, Japan, etc.) negate use of the term "occupier"?

Assuming the positive trajectory in Iraq continues, is it not now possible that a Shiite-led and nationalist Iraqi government may realize strategic advantage in the long term basing of US army and air forces as a defense against Iran? Wouldn't that strategic basing - based upon a bilateral agreement - be of enormous strategic benefit to Iraq, the region and ironically Israel?

Wouldn't the arrangement be of enormous strategic disadvantage to Iran and Syria?

Wouldn't the continued presence of US support forces and trainers continuing to sustain what is emerging as the finest Arab army in the mid-east be of enormous strategic advantage vis-a-vis Iran, Syria and Sunni radicalism?

There will have to be a sustained US presence with the Iraq army for reasons of military logistics and training - shouldn't that presence work to the advantage of Iraq and the US?

All good questions. When a country is invaded, when the foreign power's troops are in every city and region, and when the occupying army demands 58 permanent bases for the indefinite future, "occupation" seems a perfectly appropriate term. Of course, it does make a difference if the Iraqi government supports this - but when the Iraqi government is entirely dependent on the occupying forces to stay in power, then the actual sovereignty of that government is a little more suspect than most.

I can see the long-term strategic goals of a permanent military presence in Iraq. But it strikes me as an unwise intervention in the historic lands of Islam and a long-term source of anti-Western and anti-American resentment. It is a very radical expansion of America's post-Cold War goals - and one that should be put to the American people. In the medium term an Iraq free of American troops should be the goal.

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