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Does the U.S. plan to be in Iraq forever?

ASK THIS | August 16, 2005

The question of permanent U.S. military bases is an incredibly contentious one in Iraq. But for some reason, the press isn’t pinning the Bush administration down on this one.

By Dan Froomkin



Intelligent observers of the situation in Iraq are increasingly calling attention to the hugely contentious issue of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. And they are calling on the press to ask some key questions.


Here’s Larry Diamond, a former adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority and author of "Squandered Victory," a scathing book about the occupation, writing earlier this month on the TPM Café blog  with some suggested questions for President Bush: 

Q. "Mr. President, do we seek long-term military bases in Iraq?"


Q. "If so, do you believe this strategic goal is worth the loss of more American lives in Iraq?"


Q. "If not, why don’t you declare that we will not do so, so as to remove one of the most powerful political mobilizing grounds for the insurgency?" 

Diamond has a question for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as well:  

Q. "Mr. Secretary, are we building permanent military bases in Iraq?  What are our intentions there?"

Diamond explains that "we know from a variety of sources, private as well as public, that intense opposition to US plans to establish long-term military bases in Iraq is one of the most passionate motivations behind the insurgency.  There are many different strands to the violent resistance that plagues Iraq: Islamist and secular, Sunni and Shiite, Baathist and non-Baathist, Iraqi and foreign.  The one thing that unites these disparate elements is Iraqi (or broader pan-Arab) nationalism—resistance to what they see as a long-term project for imperial domination by the United States.  Neutralizing this anti-imperial passion—by clearly stating that we do not intend to remain in Iraq indefinitely—is essential to winding down the insurgency."

Here’s Cornelia Carrier, a 1976 Nieman Fellow, responding  to retired Gen. William E. Odom’s NiemanWatchdog.org article about the merits of a total pullout:


"While the Iraqis are talking about an eventual pullout of all US troops, the US is busy building bases there. Someone needs to ask the President or Rumsfeld, or Rice what the plans are for these bases. 

Q. "Do we plan to be in Iraq forever on these bases?"


Q. "Shouldn't the American people and the Iraqis know the administration's plan?" 

Ronald Brownstein writes in the Aug. 15, 2005, Los Angeles Times:


"President Bush and his top advisors have never said the United States wants to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. But they have never ruled out the possibility either.

"Should they?"


In the absence of a straight answer, some experts are looking for clues – and finding signs that indicate the U.S. is in fact planning for a long term presence.


From Brownstein’s story: "John E. Pike, a defense analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, points to another indication. Although the United States is systematically training Iraqis to fight the insurgents, he notes, the Pentagon has not taken key steps — like making plans for acquiring tanks or aircraft — to build an Iraqi military capable of defending the country against its neighbors."


Ashraf Fahim writes in the Aug 6, 2005, Asia Times: "Erik Leaver, of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and a long-time proponent of a promise to close US military bases, told Asia Times Online that the kind of construction taking place belies statements from President George W Bush that the US only intends to stay ‘as long as necessary and not one day more’, as Bush said on April 13, 2004. Not only are ammunition dumps and concrete runways and roads being built, he said, but so is long-term housing for US troops."


Bradley Graham wrote in the May 22, 2005, Washington Post that U.S. military commanders are planning to consolidate American troops into four large air bases – initially referred to in planning documents as "enduring bases," but now called "contingency operating bases."


Writes Graham: "The officers said a master plan for the positioning of U.S. forces in the Middle East, maintained by U.S. Central Command, did not envision keeping U.S. forces in Iraq permanently. Instead, it calls for what one Army colonel here described as ‘strategic overwatch’ from bases in Kuwait, meaning U.S. forces there would be near enough to respond to events in Iraq if necessary."


So is that in fact the plan? Are Bush and Rumsfeld ready to say so publicly? Wouldn’t that be worth nailing down?


back to the begining
Posted by jlseagull84 gull -
03/09/2006, 09:06 AM

In 1997 a group of neocon produced a document " The project for America in the 21st Century" Understanding this should limit the questions, because the answers are their. I know that I am preaching to the choir, but the current administration (Karl R), really have those that are concerned with the current situation chasing our tails. Presenting the case for change in administration (by any means necessary) should be addressed as statments. they never answer questions. submitted by a disgruntled veteran"

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