'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Permanent Military Bases 

Gary Hart calls for an end to the Bush administration's evasive answers regarding the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq:

Any attempt to find out whether the US is, or is not, constructing permanent military bases meets with frustration. The few who have attempted to get a direct answer to this question are met with evasion and purposeful confusion over what is or is not "permanent". But this is the ultimate test of true Bush administration intentions in Iraq. If we are, in fact, constructing permanent bases, "leaving" simply means a reduction of forces and the permanent stationing of US brigades in Iraq. If this "compromise" solution appeals to you, you might wish to refresh your memory about the disastrous French experience in Indochina or even certain phases of the British occupation of Iraq.

It's not clear to me if Hart is serious, if he's just pretending to not know the answer to his question for rhetorical purposes. It's not clear to me because the answer to his question is uncontroversially yes: fourteen permanent military bases are being built in Iraq. For instance, here's an excerpt from a March 2004 piece in that tinfoil-hat conspiracy-theory rag, the Chicago Tribune:

From the ashes of abandoned Iraqi army bases, U.S. military engineers are overseeing the building of an enhanced system of American bases designed to last for years.

Last year, as troops poured over the Kuwait border to invade Iraq, the U.S. military set up at least 120 forward operating bases. Then came hundreds of expeditionary and temporary bases that were to last between six months and a year for tactical operations while providing soldiers with such comforts as e-mail and Internet access.

Now U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases," long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years. The bases also would be key outposts for Bush administration policy advisers.

As the U.S. scales back its military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq provides an option for an administration eager to maintain a robust military presence in the Middle East and intent on a muscular approach to seeding democracy in the region. The number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, between 105,000 and 110,000, is expected to remain unchanged through 2006, according to military planners.

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