This comes from the front-page AP article in today's Oregonian, which accompanies the article about the protests in Portland yesterday. It's a puzzling article--the gist of it seems to be that the war/occupation very well may be only at the midway point. In other words, another five years, or four years, or seven or eight years, according to the experts and analysts who are quoted in the article.
The puzzling thing about the article is that it doesn't seem to get the analysts' opinions about what might happen if a Democrat becomes president this year. It points out that Hillary has vowed to begin bringing troops home within 60 days, and that Obama has said he would pull all troops out within 16 months. But the analysts' guesstimations seem to be based upon a status quo outlook--in other words, a McCain presidency. (it's arguable to what extent Hillary would try to preserve the status quo)
The basis of McCain's campaign is essentially this:
a) I was a POW in Vietnam
b) the Vietnam War wasn't a mistake
c) let us not pull the troops out of Iraq
So of course, if McCain gets elected, and everything stays the same, then there will be several more years of occupation.
In the AP article, an Indiana man describes what it's like to watch his son go off to a second tour of duty in Iraq: "It's like watching somebody with a disease...Perhaps they can live, perhaps they can't. Maybe they'll survive. Maybe they won't. And there's nothing you can do about it."
This reminds me of something I wrote back in 2005--I wrote that the Iraq war is kind of like a low-level national fever. It still is, of course. It's a sign that the country is sick.