Thursday, September 13, 2007

Korea, Iraq, what's the difference?

Word on the street is that our Prez'nit is going to make some sort of comparison between Iraq and the US experience in Korea (which as well all know has brought nothing but peace, forgiveness, and understanding to the Korean peninsula) in his televised speech to the nation this evening.

President Bush is looking at the decades-long U.S. troop presence in South Korea as a model for a future U.S. role in Iraq, senior administration officials said Thursday....

Amid Democratic criticism and Republican concerns that the so-called troop surge has failed to produce national reconciliation at the top levels in Baghdad, the official said the president is expected to argue that grass-roots efforts by Iraqis are "laying the groundwork for national reconciliation" but there is a "long haul and tough work ahead."
Well, which is it? In case master-of-geography Bush hasn't noticed, US troop presence in South Korea hasn't really helped with the whole reconciliation thing. In fact, if you happen to read any well known books about the Kim (Il Sung and Jong Il) regimes in North Korea, you know that the presence of US troops in South Korea has been the one sticking point in talks between the two nations. For years, the North has stipulated that they will only make various concessions (give up their nukes, etc.) if US troops are withdrawn. So I'm not exactly sure this is the model that the President wants to follow.

Not only that, but, hey, this is, like, what, more than 50 years since the "end" of the Korean War! Our troops are still there, yo. And, of course, the "reality on the ground" as they like to say, is completely different in Iraq than in Korea. You don't have two neat countries who hate each other on different sides of a DMZ--you have three various groups (who hate eachother) sprinkled in enclaves throughout the country, each with different levels of penetration in the country's various security services. Really not even close to the same thing. Several years ago, I think we were following the Germany-post-WWII model. Then several months ago Bush told us that Iraq=Vietnam (after saying for years that Iraq was NOTHING like Vietnam). Now it's Korea. Wake me up in several months when headlines blare "Bush says Iraq similar to Grenada, Panama."