Donald Rumsfeld said today, in his typically vague manner, that he "hopes" our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of Bush's second term. In other words, he wouldn't go on the record with a specific prediction, but only, "I would certainly expect that to be the case, hope that to be the case. But the answer to your question is not that. The answer is the president has said they'll stay as long as they are needed and not a day longer."
Obviously, there's still no strategy. No defined objective. How could there be when there's no defined enemy? Elections won't matter because the attacks will continue, the body count will rise, and a confirmed "we win" will never come. The administration will never simply say, "That's it. We're done," pull everyone out, and walk away. Given the political disaster of "Mission Accomplished", the administration won't walk away unless there's some sort of verifiable end. Do guerilla wars ever give us one of those?
So four years from now, what will the numbers look like? Let's figure the current average of 3 U.S. soldiers killed per day. That's 1,095 per year and 4,380 over four years, without really counting any more spiked months like November and April '04. Include the U.S. deaths so far and we're totalling 5,000+ dead. The ratio of wounded-in-action to dead is about 10 wounded for every one dead soldier. So we're looking at a total casualty count of about 60,000 between now and the November 4, 2008 regime change here.
And according to the Bushies, we're making progress and everything is going well. If 60,000 U.S. casualties by 2008 is considered good news...