U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell told a Tennessee newspaper last week that the 54-year-old military relationship between the United States and South Korea could be an example for Iraq.

“We had faith in those who were on the ground there. The Koreans stood up and delivered and took charge of their own fate, and we are hopeful the Iraqis will do the same,” Bell was quoted as saying in the Chattanooga Times Free Press during a trip in which he attended military conferences.

“I think that if we look at a model like Korea and ask ourselves simple questions about what are the possibilities in Iraq, that there are more possibilities for progress than there are probabilities of bad outcomes.”

Bell, who spent the last two weeks in Washington, D.C., and his home state of Tennessee, compared public discontent with the Korean War to discontent with the war in Iraq. He said Americans need to be patient.

“I wonder how it was in 1952 when people back here in this country were asking how do we define success in Korea?” he was quoted as saying. “The United States of America wanted out of that war and they didn’t see it going anywhere positively.”

Bell said he is not suggesting that Americans give Iraq 54 years, but added that “to become grotesquely impatient may not be the best model.”

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