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The upshot is that the next president, Democrat or Republican, is likely to be handed a fait accompli that could well render moot his or her own elaborate withdrawal plans, especially the ones being considered by the two leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama, undeterred by the reported success of Bush's surge, is pushing ahead with his plans for a brigade-a-month withdrawals that would remove the U.S. military presence entirely. If current Defense Secretary Rober
But Bush may have the upper hand now. The president touted the surge's success on Saturday, and he reiterated that "long-term success will require active U.S. engagement that outlasts my presidency." The "enduring relationship" he is building with Iraq, Bush added, "will have diplomatic, economic and security components--similar to relationships we have with Kuwait and other nations in this region and around the world." Some of those relationships have now lasted decades. And as in Japan, Germany, Korea and Kuwait, they include a substantial troop presence. Far away in the Persian Gulf, Bush is creating facts on the ground that the next president may not be able to ignore.