If you’re a warmonger, you had to be all warm and fuzzy a few days ago when one of our main military honchos in Iraq, General Haymaker, announced that we can expect the current troop level of 140,000 to be maintained through 2010. Four more years! What does that tell you about the state of our efforts to rebuild a decent Iraqi army/security force? Here’s yet another nice, simple sound byte with which Democrats can club America upside the head for the final three weeks of this year’s campaign.

This wasn’t, you may recall, how it was supposed to go. Contrast General Haymaker’s quote with the classic remark of Delirious Don Rumsfeld in April of ’03, when the Donster guessed that this war would last “six days, six weeks, maybe six months.” I don’t think he was lying back then. I think he honestly thought there was no way we’d be stuck in the sand, hacking this out for six years. Shit happens.

In the end, I have to admit, it still might work out. Really. Iraq could become the new Turkey in a few years. It could happen! Right now, though, it looks like we’ll need the help of insurgent-hating space aliens with a kick-ass death ray to bring that about. The possibility of Iraq becoming a functioning democracy is only that: a possibility—one of a few, in a currently seething situation where all the balls are still completely up in the air three-and-a-half years after the giddy toppling of the big Saddam statue. At this point, who would be surprised if Iraq vanished in the next five years to morph into Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Shiastan? Again, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Right now, all you can say is that it’s a major mess—2,600 Iraqis killed in September alone!—and major messes are supposed to result in total overhauls in D.C. At least, they used to before Americans became glazed over on cable TV, computer games and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Meanwhile, the planet continues to jawjack about nuclear scenes in the Axis of Evil. According to Lawrence Kaplan in the New Republic, “Bush has vowed privately not to leave office with Iran’s nuclear program intact.” White House aides say Bush will give Condi Rice, the European Triad and the United Nations about a year to get Iran to stop its nuclear bomb project. If nothing happens to his satisfaction in that time frame, it’ll be jet jockey time. Full on air strike. But “one way or another, the matter will be settled before Bush leaves office.”

If you were president, what would you do about the Iranians? The North Koreans? It’s easy to sit back and criticize the administration—at times, incredibly easy. But if Kaplan’s right, we should probably be grateful that our Cowboy-in-Chief is willing to kick back on this for a year. (He must be doubling up on his Xanax.) You’d have to think that, in that time, the combined diplomats of the world would be able to find The Magic Carrot that could finally get the Iranians to say “OK.” You’d think.