White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would like to see a U.S. role in Iraq ultimately similar to that in South Korea.
“The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you’ve had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability,” Snow told reporters.
Missing from much of the current discussion is talk about the success of democracy in Iraq, officials say, or even of the passage of reconciliation measures that Mr. Bush said in January that the troop increase would allow to take place. In interviews, many senior administration and military officials said they now doubted that those political gains, even if achieved, would significantly reduce the violence.
The officials cautioned that no firm plans have emerged from the discussions. But they said the proposals being developed envision a far smaller but long-term American presence, centering on three or four large bases around Iraq. Mr. Bush has told recent visitors to the White House that he was seeking a model similar to the American presence in South Korea.
Where to begin?
Both Juan Cole of Informed Comment and Robert Koehler of the Marmot’s Hole have some thoughts on this subject.
It’s not really hard to work up a critique of the analogy, no. I really just wanted our Korean studies audience to be aware that they might be getting more dumb questions than usual.
Might be a good week to call the History News Service or History News Network about a quick op-ed….
I do honestly find it hard to know where to start with this one since there are so many possible angles from which to approach it. Having said that, I personally think that all the people saying that Iraq is nothing like Korea are missing the point. The point is that Bush et al want it to be something like Korea. Here’s what I wrote in the comments at Juan Cole’s blog:
I think what Bush is saying is that in their fantasies he and Cheney would very much like Iraq to turn out like the South Korea of the, say, 1960s and 1970s. That is, ruled by a dictatorial military strongman; politically and economically subordinate to the US (and Japan maybe); and with a number of massive, strategically important US bases protecting US interests in the area and projecting power toward the big enemies (Russia/China). But of course fantasies are only fantasies.