With so much attention focused on the short term future of Iraq, there has been little discussion about what would happen if the United States maintained a long-term peacekeeping operation in the country.
In some GOP circles, the Korean model, in which U.S. troops maintain a peacekeeping presence along a tense but peaceful border, has been discussed as a long term solution. So Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) asked the Congressional Budget Office to conduct a study to determine the actual cost of a long-term presence of about 55,000 troops in Iraq.
Under the "combat" scenario, the cost would run $25 billion a year, while a peacekeeping operation would cost $10 billion a year. Conrad appears to have asked the CBO to conduct the study not because he supports the idea of a long-term troop presence but to higlight the trillion dollar cost over the next 50 years if the Korea scenario is actually followed.
“President Bush has repeatedly drawn an analogy between the Iraq and Korean wars and his administration has suggested that our ongoing presence in Korea could provide a model for Iraq,” Conrad said. “The American people deserve to know that they are going to be handed a multi-trillion dollar bill from this President to cover the cost of his misguided policy in Iraq.”
Sounding a more hopeful note, the CBO did say that if Iraq's infrastructure were to improve and the violence decreased in the long run, the costs could fall significantly over time.