Tom Ricks makes a few predictions about Obama's Iraq:
Obama's first year in Iraq is going to be tougher than Bush's last year. Three reasons for that: First, three rounds of elections are scheduled in 2009, and those tend to be violent in Iraq. Second, the easy U.S. troop withdrawals have been made, and the pullouts at the end of this year will be riskier. Finally, none of the basic existential problems facing Iraq have been answered-the power relationships between groups, leadership of the Shiites, the sharing of oil revenue, the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk, to name just the most pressing ones. Compounding the problem will be the incorrect perception of many Americans that the Iraq was all but over when Obama took office.
Despite the conventional wisdom that the war is nearly over, Obama's war in Iraq may last longer than Bush's, which clocks in at a robust 5 years and 10 months. "So now you back in the trap--just that, trapped," to quote Big Boi and Dre. My best guess is that we will have at least 35,000 troops there in 2015, as Obama's likely second term is winding down.
I think Ricks is optimistic. When one contemplates what president Bush has bequeathed - from $2 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see to a war without end in the Middle East to an intelligence capacity poisoned by torture - the jaw still drops. Did he really do this much damage to America and the world? Yes, he did.
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