From the New York Times:
The Pentagon’s official statement is that the United States will stay “as long as necessary” to get things going, and then leave “as soon as possible.” When closely questioned by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who wanted more of an answer, the under secretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman, conceded on Feb. 11 that he did not think power could be completely turned over to an Iraqi government in less than two years. As for how many American troops will be required, the Army’s top general recently said he thought it would take 200,000. The Pentagon immediately said no, not so many, without saying how many.
Whatever the number, they will become a target for Arab nationalists and terrorists, who have proved in the past that they can find a way through American security perimeters. In 1983 in Lebanon, where President Ronald Reagan sent American troops to help resolve a civil war, terrorists twice struck American targets with devastating effect. A bomb outside the American embassy in Beirut wrecked the building, killing more than 60 people including the entire C.I.A. station. A second bomb, outside a building converted into a barracks for American marines, killed 241 servicemen, and led to a complete American withdrawal within months. Responsibility for the attacks was never proved, but in both cases the C.I.A. suspected terrorist groups supported by the government of Iran, which shares a 730-mile border with Iraq, soon, perhaps, to be defended by Americans. C.I.A. analysts also suspect Iran’s involvement in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans.
Like it says in the song:
The ammunition’s being passed and the Lord’s been praised
But the wars on the televisions will never be explained
All the bankers gettin’ sweaty beneath their white collars
As the pound in our pocket turns into a dollar