“OPEN-ENDED COMMITMENT”….At his press conference today, President Bush suggested that American troops would be in Iraq for years to come:

Asked at a White House news conference whether there’ll come a time when no U.S. forces are in Iraq, he said “that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.” Pressed on that response, the president said that for him to discuss complete withdrawal would mean he was setting a timetable, which he refuses to do.

Harry Reid, who has shown himself to be a pretty astute leader of Senate Dems, had exactly the right response:

Three years into the war in Iraq, with that country now experiencing a low-grade civil war, it has become increasingly clear that President Bush is content with an open-ended commitment with no end in sight for our U.S. troops and taxpayers….President Bush must accept that he has to change course, reject the notion of an open-ended commitment in Iraq, and finally develop the plan that allows our troops to begin to come home.

The phrase “open-ended commitment” is the right one to use. It’s the logical equivalent of refusing to set benchmarks for withdrawal, and it’s not something the American public is very comfortable with. An open-ended commitment during the Cold War was one thing, but Iraq is quite another. An open-ended commitment there sounds way too much like Vietnam.

One question, though. Has Reid himself proposed a “plan that allows our troops to begin to come home”? This is a genuine question. I don’t remember hearing one, but I might have missed it.

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