No matter who wins the White House in '08, he or she will preside over a significant US troop presence in Iraq through the majority of their first term, say Democratic presidential candidates and their short-list picks for defense secretary. And at last week's Democratic debate, the Washington Post reports, none of the candidates would promise a full withdrawal by 2013.
Of course, it isn't really up to them. Future US troops levels will be determined by the success of 2008's post-surge drawdown and the transfer of power to Iraqi forces, assuming that regional powers don't get seriously involved. One potential defense secretary predicted that a Democratic administration might not oversee the war very differently than Bush, saying: "There's a fairly narrow band of choice here."