Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2006

THE PERMANENT BASES QUESTION....A few months ago, Tom Engelhardt noted that the "debate" over permanent U.S. bases in Iraq was practically non-existent. After a search of the LexisNexis database, he explained, "American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words 'permanent,' 'bases,' and 'Iraq' should never be placed in the same sentence, not even in the same paragraph; in fact, not even in the same news report."

With the U.S. set to build four "super-bases" in Iraq, which many believe will eventually be part of a massive permanent presence, maybe it's time to put the question on the table? According to one House Democrat, GOP lawmakers are avoiding the issue.

[Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)] introduced an amendment to the latest emergency war spending bill prohibiting the use of funds to build such bases. The House accepted it, and the Senate included the same wording in its version.

However, the provision was dropped by House and Senate conferees reconciling the two versions of the bill.

"Their willingness to abuse the process is amazing," she said of Republican leaders. "I hope the debate will at least get a debate going on permanent bases."

Thanks to a bi-partisan deal struck in April, Lee will probably have a chance to at least ask the question. The House is poised to hold a full-day debate on Iraq policy at some point next week, which both parties hope to use to make their case on the future of the war. Several Democrats are anxious to discuss whether the U.S. plans to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq, and with any luck, they'll get some answers.

Lee said in a press release that "Republicans need to go on record as to whether they think we should stay in Iraq permanently." We'll see what they say.

Steve Benen 11:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (116)

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Not forever, idiot. Just till the oil runs out! DUH!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 9, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

"The House accepted it, and the Senate included the same wording in its version.
"However, the provision was dropped by House and Senate conferees reconciling the two versions of the bill."

I'm not an expert on Congressional history, but isn't highly unusual, illegal, or unethical for the conference to drop something that was identical in both bills? Isn't the goal of the conference to reconcile differences?

Posted by: Meander on June 9, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there's plenty of precedent for us to build a permanent base in a country after we've liberated it from tyranny (Germany, Japan, South Korea). And having troops stationed in the Middle East would be an ideal way to quickly address hot spots in the continued War on Terrorism. But it seems our presence there is unpopular with many Iraqis, leading to some of the violence. I would like to think there's a way we could build a fort on some abandoned tract of desert, with the permission of the elected Iraqi government, of course. But I have serious doubts we could avoid creating new dangers in the process.

Posted by: Staunch Moderate on June 9, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

sorry for the longish excerpt below, but i'm just wondering... why asn't greg palast- or at least the info he reports, published in mainstream sources? is the following info not verifiable? and another question- isn't what happened to zarqawi a straightforward assasination? i thought the U.S. didn't do, at leaset obvious public, assasinations. is it okay now and we just refer to it as a "bombing expedition" and nobody blinks?

(from a greg palast newsletter)
"If you prefer your fairy tales unsoiled by facts, read no further. If you want the uncomfortable truth, begin with this: A phone call to Baghdad to Saddam's Palace on the night of April 21, 2003. It was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a secure line from Washington to General Jay Garner.

The General had arrives in Baghdad just hours before to take charge of the newly occupied nation. The message from Rumsfeld was not a heartwarming welcome. Rummy told Garner, Don't unpack, Jack -- you're fired.

What had Garner done? The many-starred general had been sent by the President himself to take charge of a deeply dangerous mission. Iraq was tense but relatively peaceful. Garner's job was to keep the peace and bring democracy.

Unfortunately for the general, he took the President at his word. But the general was wrong. "Peace" and "Democracy" were the slogans.

"My preference," Garner told me in his understated manner, "was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can and do it in some form of elections."


But elections were not in The Plan.

The Plan was a 101-page document to guide the long-term future of the land we'd just conquered. There was nothing in it about democracy or elections or safety. There was, rather, a detailed schedule for selling off "all [Iraq's] state assets" -- and Iraq, that's just about everything -- "especially," said The Plan, "the oil and supporting industries." Especially the oil.

There was more than oil to sell off. The Plan included the sale of Iraq's banks, and weirdly, changing it's copyright laws and other odd items that made the plan look less like a program for Iraq to get on its feet than a program for corporate looting of the nation's assets. (And indeed, we discovered at BBC, behind many of the odder elements -- copyright and tax code changes -- was the hand of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's associate Grover Norquist.)

But Garner didn't think much of The Plan, he told me when we met a year later in Washington. He had other things on his mind. "You prevent epidemics, you start the food distribution program to prevent famine."

Seizing title and ownership of Iraq's oil fields was not on Garner's must-do list. He let that be known to Washington. "I don't think [Iraqis] need to go by the U.S. plan, I think that what we need to do is set an Iraqi government that represents the freely elected will of the people." He added, "It's their country their oil."

Apparently, the Secretary of Defense disagreed. So did lobbyist Norquist. And Garner incurred their fury by getting carried away with the "democracy" idea: he called for quick elections -- within 90 days of the taking of Baghdad.

But Garner's 90-days-to-elections commitment ran straight into the oil sell-off program. Annex D of the plan indicated that would take at least 270 days -- at least 9 months...."

Posted by: brkily on June 9, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans will say whatever Bush tells them to say. They will do whatever Bush tells them to do. Thus, if Bush decides (hi being the Decider, and all) that the permanent super bases should not be discussed at all, the Republicans will not utter a word--they will simply shut down all debate and refuse to allow the matter onto the floor.

The funding for the bases will either be quietly inserted by the conference committee while marking up a completely unrelated bill, or Bush will simply divert funding from some other program or agency he doesn't like or understand (just like he did when he diverted $7 billion from Afghanistan to build up for Iraq without Congressional authorization).

Posted by: Derelict on June 9, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Meander, as wrong as it is, it's perfectly legal for a conference committee to do whatever it wants. Although the purpose is to settle differences, anything goes.

Posted by: Staunch Moderate on June 9, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"unusual, illegal, or unethical?"
You're kidding right? They'd never do anything like that.

These bases, along with the Oil, armaments re-orders, and opportunities for Haliburton are what this invasion & occupation are about.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 9, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

But I thought the Republicans in Congress loved "up or down" votes!

Posted by: keptsimple on June 9, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see Republicans go on record about their intention to stay in California permanently. Frankly, I'm getting a bit sick of them.

Posted by: craigie on June 9, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Rep. Lee doesn't get enough credit. She's been ahead of the game more than once, but even Democrats sometimes trash her.

Posted by: Humble blogger on June 9, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think it would be bad business to come out and plan to NOT have permanent bases. What we should do is say, "If the Iraqi people/government ask us to stay, we will stay. If they ask us to leave, we will leave."

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Permanent bases for what?

Saudi Arabia and Iran seem to be the only potential adversaries, and they hate each other.

Protecting the oil lanes, if we want that job, is a naval problem.

Permanent bases get us no better access to oil, except maybe to protect Iraq's oil assets from Iraqis.

Stopping the Shiite arc of influence? Hezbollah?

Someone needs to explain all this.

Posted by: Matt on June 9, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
I'm not an expert on Congressional history, but isn't highly unusual, illegal, or unethical for the conference to drop something that was identical in both bills? Isn't the goal of the conference to reconcile differences?

Its not, per se, any of those -- ethically, you've got to consider that part of the reason underlying a difference, after all, may be the interaction of the disputed portion with a portion that was in both versions, so altering the previously-agreed portion may be essential to resolving the dispute; and legally, if the House and Senate pass two different versions of the bill, they are really two different bills. The conference committee is a mechanism for negotiating from those different bills to suggest an identical bill that both houses can pass, and anything goes -- the "check" on the conference committee is that each house has the chance to pass or not pass the version of the bill reported out by that committee.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

The point of the post, for those with reading comprehension issues, is not whether we should or should not build permanent bases, but rather that the discussion has been kept oddly quiet.

But, hey, the Bush Administration is all about open government and restoring integrity to the White House.

Posted by: ChrisS on June 9, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Matt at 11:42 AM

Oil & Israel

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 9, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: I think it would be bad business to come out and plan to NOT have permanent bases. What we should do is say, "If the Iraqi people/government ask us to stay, we will stay. If they ask us to leave, we will leave."

Fair enough RSM, but shouldn't Congress have a vigorous and open debate about these bases?

Posted by: cyntax on June 9, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Cyntax
Fair enough RSM, but shouldn't Congress have a vigorous and open debate about these bases?

Nothing hurt by it, I guess. But it'd kind of like arguing about whether you and your wife are going to go to someone's party in front of them, and they're thinking, "Ya know, we haven'teven extended the invitation yet..." In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

According to Wikipedia, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary definitions of a cult are:

1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies;

2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers;

3. the object of such devotion;

4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc;

5.group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols;

6.a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader;

7. the members of such a religion or sect;

8.any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

Chose your pick.

Posted by: nut on June 9, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm not an expert on Congressional history, but isn't highly unusual, illegal, or unethical for the conference to drop something that was identical in both bills?"

Not since DeLay started running things.

Posted by: brewmn on June 9, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

keptsimple: But I thought the Republicans in Congress loved "up or down" votes!

screw off!!

Posted by: harriet miers on June 9, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.


In short, having the argument brings to everyone's attention the fact that the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

Posted by: nut on June 9, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

More to the point, building permanent bases prior to the formation of an Iraqi government presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

Posted by: Windhorse on June 9, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Of course there will be permanent bases. There will be bases for as long as the Iraqi military is incapable of facing an external security threat. No matter how well they might do against their own internal security problems, facing an external national threat needs things like planes with real guns and missiles on them, more than a couple dozen real modern tanks, some artillery, a command and control structure...etc.

As it stands right now, the tiny UAE air force could blow through the entire Iraqi military in one afternoon of "shock and awe". Let's not even think about the Syrians, Saudis, Iranians, Turks etc etc.

There are NO plans to provide any real military equipment to the Iraqi military at the present time and current plans reach out until 2010. Until there are such plans, the Iraqi military is a glorified paramilitary police force and permanent US bases to protect the nation against possible external aggression will be needed.

Welcome to the Satrapy of Iraq.

Posted by: Cernig on June 9, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

As for there being no journalistic coverage, there was an extensive piece in The Atlantic, I think in May.

Posted by: Dan-O on June 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's subscribers only, but here's the link:
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200606/kaplan-iraq

Posted by: Dan-O on June 9, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK
In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

No, it doesn't. Certainly, one or more positions in the argument could be premised on the opinion of the Iraqi people and/or their government.

Not having the argument, however, clearly demonstrates that the American publics' opinion on a massive, open-ended commitment of American resources and troops doesn't count.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

The "permanent bases" thing has never really exercised me, because I think that while we'd like to have them, we never actually will have them in Iraq for the same reason we don't have any permanent bases in Vietnam: we'll lose. It's tough to keep up the permanent bases after you've been chased out of the country clinging to the rail of the last helicopter to lift off the embassy roof.....

Posted by: Stefan on June 9, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

And having troops stationed in the Middle East would be an ideal way to quickly address hot spots in the continued War on Terrorism.

We don't need bases in Iraq for that purpose. Our largest bases outside the US are in Qatar and they're well positioned. No doubt the Iraqi govt would like the US to maintain remote airbases in Iraqi to ensure Iran and Syria don't get ambitious. Iraqi will need time to build and train it's own air force.

It's just a matter of patience. Once they get control of the violence and start building the economy it'll be a relatively short couple/few years before they're powerful to defeat the Iranians and the Syrians at the same time. They will have a large American trained and equiped military. They'll be able to devastate their enemies in the region.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

a program for corporate looting of the nation's assets.

Funny, because that's what this war's been about here at home, too. These degenerates are bankrupting our country.

Posted by: Ross on June 9, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Permanent bases for what?

mortar bait, flypaper, whatever they call it these days.

Posted by: cleek on June 9, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there's plenty of precedent for us to build a permanent base in a country after we've liberated it from tyranny (Germany, Japan, South Korea).

Just to be historically accurate here, we never "liberated from tyranny" any of those countries. We invaded and occupied Germany and Japan because they'd made war on the US, and South Korea was always an ally whom we defended from attack by is neighbor -- in fact, we helped maintain the tyranny of Syngman Rhee and his successor's rule for years. Our motive in none of those cases was "liberation from tyranny" --- it was revenge, self-defense, and self-interest.

Posted by: Stefan on June 9, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

There are NO plans to provide any real military equipment to the Iraqi military at the present time and current plans reach out until 2010. Until there are such plans, the Iraqi military is a glorified paramilitary police force and permanent US bases to protect the nation against possible external aggression will be needed.

There's a reason the Bush regime doesn't give the Iraqi Army any tanks, planes, artillery, really any sort of modern armaments at all beyond AK-47s -- it knows full well that any weapons we give them today may be turned against us tomorrow.

Posted by: Stefan on June 9, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

The debate (or lack thereof) over permanent bases is a hugely misleading one that is driven by the type on money being spent and the things that money is used to build. People are confusing the use of military construction money (a.k.a. MILCON) to build what DOD defines as permanent structures (i.e. not tents or containerized buildings)with a strategic determination as to whether and when we will pull our troops out of Iraq.

Barbara Lee's amendment is a perfect example. She would prevent DOD from using MILCON funds to build permanent structures on Iraqi bases. But that doesn't mean our troops couldn't stay there for years and years. As anyone who has visited US bases in Germany or Korea can attest to, there are ample cases of "temporary" buidings that have been occupies for over 50 years.

In the meantime, by preventing DOD from building what they define as permanent structures, Rep. Lee would keep our troops living in tents or trailers without the efficiences and, more importantly, without the protection that more permanent buildings provide. In fact, in some cases the military now has to built "temporary" hardened roofs over "temporary" trailers so protect our troops without spending MILCON money.

I think it is well and good to debate our long-term strategy for Iraq and what the steady-state troop presence might look like when Iraq hopefully becomes more self-reliant and functional. But the debate over what types of structure we build is not the way to do it. We could spend 40 years in Iraq and never build a permanent structure or we could build permanent structure on a few bases and have all our troops home in say 5 years. The only difference is really the safety and efficiency of the buildings our soldier would be in for that length of time.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Not having the argument, however, clearly demonstrates that the American publics' opinion on a massive, open-ended commitment of American resources and troops doesn't count

Actually it counts every two years. The US govt have been actively opening and closing foreign bases all over the world since WWII. We never get to vote on specific base closings not should we. The Congress gets to vote on each one of them. They require funding and Congress controls the purse. They also get to debate them and discuss them as often as they want.

Far more important than the potential construction of 4 Iraqi bases is the permanent removal of over 100K troops from NATO and large shifts out of Japan and out of North Korea. The Bush administration is not only shutting down European bases he is returning our rights to the land. Those bases are gone. Moreover he's makig substantive security agreements with Japan, NK, Vietnam, Indonesia, India ad Pakistan. We didn't get to vote on them either.

We vote for the President every 4 years. The winner then gets to implement policy. The Congress gets to work with them.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

But it'd kind of like arguing about whether you and your wife are going to go to someone's party in front of them, and they're thinking, "Ya know, we haven'teven extended the invitation yet..." In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

Well, we could predicate the debates on "If the Iraqis were to authorize this, should we do it." What seems to be at issue is whether the country is going to be signed up for doing something without an open and honest debate about it.

Posted by: cyntax on June 9, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's a reason the Bush regime doesn't give the Iraqi Army any tanks, planes, artillery, really any sort of modern armaments at all beyond AK-47s -- it knows full well that any weapons we give them today may be turned against us tomorrow.

That's certainly true but not the reason. Why give them today what they can buy tomorrow? They'll have the money to buy the best soon enough. As soon as they establish Democracy we'll be more than pleased to sell.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid rdw, Matt, et al., don't really get it.

Bases in Qatar and Kuwait, and carrier groups in the Gulf, are not suitable for our purposes. Qatar is a long way from much anything except the Saudi peninsula, both they and Kuwait can kick us out, and carrier groups are extremely expensive, vulnerable, and highly unmaneuverable.

Bases in Iraq are indeed permanent. They can't kick us out. We invaded and took over, they are wholly dependent on us for security and economic assistance, and we can dispose at will of whatever government happens to be in office at the time.

Oh, and Iraq, besides being a major oil producer -- and an even bigger gas producer -- in its own right, is right next door to Iran, the #2 oil producer and rising regional hegemon.

This is Dick Cheney's legacy. They don't give a rotten fig for the civil society of Iraq, or whether the state continues to exist at all. They wanted large, permanent military facilities right in the middle of the world's politico-economic hotspot, and that's what they got.

They've gambled that oil is our only possible future, and therefore that it's worth sacrificing nearly everything: geopolitical and moral leadership, blood, gigantic amounts of treasure, and even our civil liberties. They're probably wrong, but whaddaya expect from oil-industry gerontocrats?

Posted by: bleh on June 9, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK
We never get to vote on specific base closings not should we.

No one is asking for a public referendum.

What people are asking for is for their voice to be heard. Sure, there are elections to impose accountability. Having the debate and convincing the public that the way forward chosen is correct is one of the things that people are held accountable for.

Government of, by, and for the people doesn't mean periodic elections are held and the public is ignored in the interim. Or at least, it shouldn't, especially on important issues.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK
Barbara Lee's amendment is a perfect example. She would prevent DOD from using MILCON funds to build permanent structures on Iraqi bases. But that doesn't mean our troops couldn't stay there for years and years. As anyone who has visited US bases in Germany or Korea can attest to, there are ample cases of "temporary" buidings that have been occupies for over 50 years.

In the meantime, by preventing DOD from building what they define as permanent structures, Rep. Lee would keep our troops living in tents or trailers without the efficiences and, more importantly, without the protection that more permanent buildings provide.

No, Lee would force the executive, if it wanted to carry out a permanent bases policy and if it took seriously its responsibilities, to come to the Congress and sell that policy, rather than simply imposing it unilaterally.

Only a grossly irresponsible President would, faced with those restrictions, just bull forward with "temporary" structures for permanent occuption without trying to make the case for why permanent bases are needed. And such a President ought to be removed for gross breach of the public trust (and for violation of the oath to faithfully execute the law.)

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

There's a reason the Bush regime doesn't give the Iraqi Army any tanks, planes, artillery, really any sort of modern armaments at all beyond AK-47s -- it knows full well that any weapons we give them today may be turned against us tomorrow.

Which doesn't actually help the Dems worth a damn. You see, none of their plans for Iraq have mentioned giving the Iraqis anything like a fully functional military either!

We're left, no matter which party is in charge, with a choice between staying to provide national defense against possible external national threats or an immoral abandonment of Iraq to the good natures of their various regional neighbours - damn few of whom seem to be at all good natured when it comes to a whole bunch of oil lying around with the doors unlocked.

Not incidentally, this lack of planning to replace what we destroyed during the invasion makes a mockery of any idea of Iraqi sovereignty - and the Iraqis have figured it out even if the American public hasn't. In every case, GOP or Dem, what we have is a plan for a Lebanon/Syria model, with the U.S. playing the Syrian role of permanent occupiers and steerers of the (kept) weaker nation.

As a progressive, I believe we should give Iraq the benefit of the doubt. Weaponry we give it for national defense may well end up being used against us - but then again it might not. The choice is simply - are we serious about Iraqi sovereignty or aren't we? If we are, we must bite the bullet and re-arm their military.

A nation which must rely on another for every aspect of it's national defense (as opposed to internal security) is no nation at all - it is a client state. There are no plans to change that status. From either party. I just wish both had the integrity to admit it.

Regards, Cernig.

Posted by: Cernig on June 9, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

What people are asking for is for their voice to be heard. Sure, there are elections to impose accountability. Having the debate and convincing the public that the way forward chosen is correct is one of the things that people are held accountable for.


There are only so many hours in a day. Micro-managing the military is not time well spent. If your congressional representatives felt this was a matter of debate they have the ability to make it so. Quite obviously they don't feel it's worthy of extended debate. If it's so important why aren't you putting their feet to the fire?

Isn't that how it's supposed to work? Surely if this were some hot button issue at lease ONE of the 535 members of Congress would advance it publically. Citizens today have a much easier time of generating heat. Obviously this issue doesn't have any.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

bleh,

Check your maps. Qatar is less than 60 miles from Iran. And it's right in the middle of the Persion gulf. That's not to say bases in Iraq would not be useful. But they're not necessary. We also have bases in Kuwait.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Only a grossly irresponsible President would, faced with those restrictions, just bull forward with "temporary" structures for permanent occuption without trying to make the case for why permanent bases are needed

This is total nonsense. Presidents have been running their foreign policies around Congress since we've had foreign policies. Could you just imagine Clinton toying with the meaning of the word 'permanent'. Lee has zero shot of preventing base construction in Iraq.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK
There are only so many hours in a day.

Maybe the President and Congress should spend less time and deliberately pointless symbolic BS like FMA, then.


Micro-managing the military is not time well spent.

Public discussion of major policy commitments like this are not "micro-management", and is a lot better use of time than much of what the President and Congress do publicly.

If your congressional representatives felt this was a matter of debate they have the ability to make it so.

No, actually, my congressional representatives don't. Nevertheless, since this is all about the efforts of members of the public and Congress to do just that, you seem confused. This is a discussion of whether Congress should make this a matter of debate.

Quite obviously they don't feel it's worthy of extended debate.

Well, quite obviously the GOP majority doesn't, and is deliberately avoiding it, hence the conference committee gimmick, among other things. The GOP majority contains zero of my representatives.


If it's so important why aren't you putting their feet to the fire?

Other than the fact that my representatives aren't the problem, what makes you think I'm not?

Part of holding members of Congress "feet to the fire" is public discussion to make others aware of the issue so you aren't acting alone.

Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Sure, public discussion and public pressure on members of Congress is how it is supposed to work. So why are you both complaining that that is being done, and then arguing that that is how it is supposed to work?

Surely if this were some hot button issue at lease ONE of the 535 members of Congress would advance it publically.

The article this thread is attached to is about just that, moron.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

You seem to have missed my basic point - Lee's amendment in way forces the administration to come to Congress and sell any long-term presence policy. Permanent basing, the way she is using it in her amendment, only refers to the physical infrastructure on an installation. That has not impact whatsoever on how long we want to or plan to keep troops at that installation.

As I said, all her amendment would do is deny DOD the ability to build safer and better housing and facilities for our troops.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Cernig,

The iraq military only needs to be armed well enough to defeat the insurgents. Since the insurgents don't have an air force Iraq only needs a limited airforce. They don't need to defend themselves from attack from a foreign airforce. No one can take on the USA. Iraq is perfectly safe from the AIR.

The obvious path is the iraqi govt has to establish control and security and start pumping oil. With those funds they start buying and air force and training. That's where we come in. As they gain proficiency we start to move out. At NO time will IRAN have an opportunity to attack and defeat Iraq. When Iraq has the ability to attack and crush Syria and Iran at the same time we're out of there. That's not going to be cheap. So we'll be there for a bit and they're be pumping a lot of oil.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: Less than 60 miles, yeah, across the water. I mean, Hitler was less than 40 miles from the UK, and what stopped him?

And in addition to checking your maps, you might want to check the recent noises out of Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and other Arabian states with large conservative populations, active and state-sanctioned fundamentalist Islamic institutions, autocratic regimes with uncertain popular support, restive minority populations, and low average ages. (Hint: remember the Shah of Iran?) Quite apart from their less-than-ideal locations, bases in Qatar and Kuwait simply aren't as politically stable as ones in a country we run from behind the scenes.

Honestly, do you really think the neocons care the slightest bit about "Democracy" in Iraq? Do you think they care as much about it as, say, in Egypt? Or Palestine?

Sheesh...

Posted by: bleh on June 9, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

The permanent bases in Iraq aren't future-tense. My daughter's unit helped build a large permanent base in Balad and it's more developed than bases on Oahu, which have been there for decades. A little late for a debate, I think.

Posted by: Gaia on June 9, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK
You seem to have missed my basic point - Lee's amendment in way forces the administration to come to Congress and sell any long-term presence policy.

You missed my point, that it would force any President but a grossly irresponsible one to do that.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I think you are right that the debate over our long-term presence in the region needs to be a public one. I think the problem is that we are not yet at the point where having that debate is useful. Even if, to play along the conspiracy theory, evil Cheney has some master plan to permanently keep troops in the Middle East, it doesn't much matter until and unless Iraq is properly up and running. Right now our troops are needed in Iraq to provide some basic degree of security. Until that need goes away we are going to be in Iraq regardless of what people think about long-term plans.

When we hopefully get to the point where Iraq can stand on its own, then we can debate - publically as we should - what long-term troop commitments the U.S. should make in the Middle East. Debating it now is a meaningless exercise.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Other than the fact that my representatives aren't the problem, what makes you think I'm not?


It sounds to me like it's working the way the founding fathers intended. This is a democracy. If your reps don't have enough power to even hold a discussion this is as intended. If they're this week and ineffective they don't deserve a voice. Elections matter. There are consequences. Either you and those who share your opinion are so few you haven't earned a voice OR you've squandered your votes on dolts.

Either way this is how it works and this is how its always worked. Somehow I suspect you were not bitching when your party was in control. This is not about good government. This is a classic losers lament. You are just bitter.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

At least two huge mega bases are being built and are by great percentages completed. They are at al-Asad and Balad. There was never any debate and there isn't one now-it's all ready been done.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gaia,

Having been to both Balad and Oahu I can assure you that your observation is not only innaccurate, it is comically inaccurate.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

At NO time will IRAN have an opportunity to attack and defeat Iraq.

Again for those who are history-challeneged and lack reading comprehension: not having a vigorous discussion about staging troops in Iraq for the better of a decade or so is the issue. What's the Bush administration afraid of?

And Iraq has traditionally been the aggressor, with US prodding, against Iran. Iraq, under Saddam, chafed against the arbitrary borders drawn up by the British after WWII. Iran has no real agenda for dominating the middle east other than to protect itself (and having permanent US airbases on its borders might be considered a threat).

Posted by: ChrisS on June 9, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for this post.

It seeems important to ask all candidates their positions on permanent bases. Prior to 9/11 I would not have been asware enough to have concern and would have assumed that base placement was largely up to the DOD and Congress. Now, our homeland has been attacked because of the bases in Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, the DOD high-tailed it out of SA. Now, a similar situation in Iraq can predictably put American civilians at risk for. Americans should be made aware regularly. I applaud Randi Phodes for keeping the issue front and center.

This is a winning issue for the Dems but they need to visibly take it on first.

Posted by: kck on June 9, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

bleh,

The govt in Qatar has been ruled by the same family for 150 years. The Dynasty on Kuwait has been there over 100 years. Each is keenly aware the threat from fundamntalism and their neighbors is far greater than any threat from the USA.

The fact water separates Qatar from Iran is not militarily significant. Kuwait is 20 miles by land.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

The govt in Qatar has been ruled by the same family for 150 years. The Dynasty on Kuwait has been there over 100 years. Each is keenly aware the threat from fundamntalism and their neighbors is far greater than any threat from the USA.

And democracy continues to spread, like Chestnut Blight, across the middle east, thanks to the Bush Administration's relentless pressure on countries to adopt democratic reforms.

Posted by: ChrisS on June 9, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

ChrisS.

I take it you're not following Irans development of nuclear weapons. Their whackjob President has said it's to lead the region. We all know it's not for Israel. The Jews would turn Tehran into a parking lot as well as Qom and every other major holy site and city.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

"They'll have the money to buy the best soon enough. As soon as they establish Democracy we'll be more than pleased to sell."

Democracy - Now With More Fruit!

Posted by: brewmn on June 9, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

You missed something or lied, Hacksaw. Both bases at al Asad and Balad can easily be found on satelite photos. The photos are restricted but most assuredly the bases are there. Try to use truth in discussions; it's a lot easier.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Their whackjob President has said it's to lead the region. We all know it's not for Israel. The Jews would turn Tehran into a parking lot as well as Qom and every other major holy site and city.

So who are they aiming to conquer? Iraq? With nuclear weapons? What would be the point of that?

Not having nuclear weapons when dealing with our whack-job president is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Your posts, strung together, are the feeble efforts of a delusioned syncophant to rationalize irrational policies. And the logic of them fails accordingly.

Posted by: ChrisS on June 9, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

What's the Bush administration afraid of?

Not a thing. It's a stupid discussion. No USA President ever describes bases as permanent. Our German bases were not permanent US bases. Again, just consider the look on Clintons face if you tried to force him into declaring something as permanent or not.

"These bases are not permanent. I only intend to use them in Iraq for 10,000 years. They're just there on a temporary basis".

Further underscoring the gross stupidity of the topic Bush can't force the next President to use ANY bases. If Hillary comes in and decides to close them there's nothing that can be done to stop her. Even if congress could apply some legislative trick she merely needs to order all troops off the base.

Any discussion would be silly. They'd all say the same thing. No sireeee. These are only temporary until we no longer need them.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Pictures of the al Asad base were shown in the newspaper and a discussion of the huge size of it and the amount of money being spent to build it. The newspaper: The Oregonian. I guess that these pictures were just lies, right Hacksaw? Your credibility just bottomed out.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Uhh, I wasn't actually addressing your comment Where's Osama.

The point I was making was that Gaia's claim that the base at Balad (and for that matter any other base in Iraq) was nicer than the ones at Oahu. And that's simply untrue.

As for your point, are we supposed to be surprised that with 150,000 soldiers in Iraq there are large bases there to support them. Did you think our soldiers were just bunking up with local Iraqis and parking their tanks in the driveway. Of course there are large bases there, the issue is how long will our forces be there. The existence of a large base in and of itself doesn't tell us anything about that question since we would need them if we wanted to stay 2 years or 20 years.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Further underscoring the gross stupidity of the topic Bush can't force the next President to use ANY bases.

And

The existence of a large base in and of itself doesn't tell us anything about that question since we would need them if we wanted to stay 2 years or 20 years.

We've spent $1,300,000,000 on them. I think they're a bit more permanent than the tent cities we had in PSAB. They are permanent in every sense of the word, despite the rantings of rdw.

The fact that no one wants to commit any actual numbers to these things outside of more money to contractors makes me believe that something is fishy.

I think you and the administration is full of shit, but believe whatever you feel like and continue to abet the wholesale looting of the treasury.

Posted by: ChrisS on June 9, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

So who are they aiming to conquer? Iraq? With nuclear weapons? What would be the point of that?

Who said conquer? They want to be the top dog in the middle east and they think this will give them the biggest dick. They would also like to be the Islamic country representing all of those victimized muslims living as 2nd class citizens in enlightened Europe. They're not stupid. They know who they can push around. They'll push Europe and Europe will appease. We saw from the Danish Cartoon debacle how terrified they are.


Not having nuclear weapons when dealing with our whack-job president is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight.


We don't have diplomatic relations with Iran. Remember the brilliant Jimmy Carter? We stay out of each others way until we find Iran preparing to go nuclear. They so much as hint they'll use it against the USA George will take them out. so they won't. They'll hope for a democratic adminsitration that will appease as quickly as Europe.

Posted by: rdw on June 9, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

ChrisS,

There are more permanent that the tent camps at PSAB. Most people on the bases are living in trailers. But pictures of these bases are easily located and a simple glance at them would make it quite clear that we have not quite recreated Fort Hood in Iraq.

In any event, your comment proves my basic point. There were tent camps at PSAB and we were there for over a decade. And we build more permanent housing for troops in Saudi Arabia and now we've left. In other words, there is no direct link between the type of structures you build and how long you will use them.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Nice discussion shift, Hacksaw. The point of discussion here is the development of new permanent bases on Iraqi soil by the US. Not use of existing bases. Gaia's claim of its size may be not relevant as to whether it exists or not. At least on new base has been built in Iraq by the US military all ready making this action in congress after-the-point. It has all ready been done, the news is out there and can be found, and shifting the issue to prior existence, niceness, or congressional overview now is sophomoric at best. It has all ready been done with extensive expenses and Awol shows the intention of having at least one inclusive military base in Iraq for a very long (basically permanent) time. The amount being spent is indicative of the time and level that it is intended to be used. Face the truth.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Meander,

This does violate the rules of the House, specifically with regard to the scope of the conference. However, the Rules Committee is authorized to grant a waiver (which it will) and the resolution with that waiver only needs a simple majority to pass on the floor. This is a procedural vote, and all Republicans, whatever their views, routinely support the leadership on procedural votes.

Posted by: Vadranor on June 9, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Where's osama,

You seem to be confused as to what is going on in Iraq. If you look at press reports of the move to enduring bases in Iraq, it is clear that we are talking about consolidation onto existing bases and not the creation of new bases. Furthermore, as the press reports make clear, this move to fewer but larger bases is being driven by consolidating our position in Iraq as the Iraqis build up their own security forces.

Once again, I think it is important that this country discuss our long-term presence in the Middle East when we get to the point where that decision is going to be made. Bush can built all the bases he wants in Iraq and it still won't affect that long-term decision until Iraq is at a place where our leaving becomes an option. Until then, whatever bases we have will be there to support ongoing operations in Iraq and don't represent some mysterious subterfuge to lock U.S. forces into Iraq for the next 100 years.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

For those who are interested, here is a link to a story in the Washington Post last year describing the Iraq base consolidation effort:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/21/AR2005052100611_pf.html

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Again, and I grow tired of communication with someone that appears to be tuned out of the loop or wishes to be, at least one new base that is huge, is out in the desert, was not an existing base, is totally new, is being built at a cost of billions by the American military. It is not consolidation of an existing base. It is not use of an existing base-it is all new construction. Articles and news is out there about it and can be found-it is not totally secret. But it is a huge indicator of the neo-cons future hope for a staging base in Iraq. The amount being spent, the utter size of it, and it's location are indicators that the intention is to use it whether Iraq becomes a US puppet state or not. Either you are unaware of it or just....

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw, much as it bores me to do so, I'll respond to your silliness. I have spent lots of time at Schofield Barracks and a little time at Ewa Beach NAS and have shopped at the AAFES on Oahu. I've visited Fort Leonard Wood (MO), Fort Jackson (SC), and around Fort Collins. So I have some idea of what a military base is. Yes, lots of people at Balad live in tents while the building of permanent buildings goes on. Even the soldiers recognize that that's a permanent base out there. Ask one, next time you're out there ;)

Oh, and it may help to know that a whole division that used to be assigned to Korea has been permanently reassigned to Iraq. But maybe you didn't get the memo.

Posted by: Gaia on June 9, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse
More to the point, building permanent bases prior to the formation of an Iraqi government presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.

The bases are already built. They were already built before we got there. We took over their bases (mostly) and have updated them with our stuff. We can icnrementally improve them, but the core infrastructure is there. So that horse has left the barn.

The question is whether we will stay there if the Iraqis invite us to.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Osama
At least two huge mega bases are being built and are by great percentages completed. They are at al-Asad and Balad. There was never any debate and there isn't one now-it's all ready been done.

As I noted before, they already existed. Both were bases of the Iraqi Air Force. We've upgraded facilities significantly. I'd say the odds of us staying around at least to help train the eventual Iraqi Air Force (sorry Stefan, we're not leaving hanging on helo skids) is about 100%.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

In short, having the argument presumes the Iraqis' opinions don't matter.
Posted by: Red State Mike

That's a great point, Mike, but why were we building them before the Iraqi government was in place? Shouldn't we ask them if it's OK before building them?

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 9, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Gaia,

You claimed that Balad was more developed than military bases in Oahu and it was that which I was taking issue with. I'm pretty sure your daughter would not accept that Balad is the more developed of these locations.

As for the permanence of any of these bases, it's quite clear even from articles like the one in the Post I linked to, that the expectation is that we will be there for quite some time. Moreover, I think the reason we think we will be there for some time is that it is going to take a long time before Iraq can fully stand on its own.

The topic here was that the administration has some long-term plans for a permanent presence in Iraq beyond that point where Iraq can stand on its own and that these "permanent bases" are proof that these plans exist. I have taken issue with that argument and suggested that even if that was the administration's plan we would have to wait until Iraq was ready for us to leave before it was worth debating if we should stay for the long-term. Building hardened structure at Balad or elsewhere does not lock us in to one answer or the other.

WO,

I'll hold off commenting on the super-secret neo-con base being built in the desert until you point me to where I can read about it.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

The bases are already built. They were already built before we got there. We took over their bases (mostly) and have updated them with our stuff. We can icnrementally improve them, but the core infrastructure is there. So that horse has left the barn.

That's unworthy of you.

Taking an abandoned airfield and building a billion-dollar mega-base around it that increases its size by 2000% and includes restaurants, shops, swimming pools, and a Hertz rental outlet to assist in spanning the gigantic base is a new build, all cutesy semantics aside.

Posted by: Windhorse on June 9, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Red skate mike, the base I mainly refer to was not a pre-existing base. It is totally new. Everything about it. Built out in the desert. Extensively reported on in The Oregonian newspaper. Al Asad and Balad did exist however the new one did not. Perhaps in your little bitty brain pan the horse left the barn but realistically it hasn't. Awol intends to have a huge permanent base in Iraq and just because you do not know it or are deluded doesn't make it a non-entity. Proof can be found of it's existence if you'd care to look.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think the reason we think we will be there for some time is that it is going to take a long time before Iraq can fully stand on its own.

We have no intention of ever completely leaving Iraq. We are in the process of building the world's largest (by size and by staff) American embassy there. Scores of tens of thousands of troops will remain in the country to protect both our human assets and strategic interests there.

Posted by: Windhorse on June 9, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse,

Your comments are well taken and we have spend a huge amount of money building up the bases to house U.S. troops in Iraq. However, much of that initial expansion was done in the first months after the fall of Saddam and subsequent activity has been to consolidate and to some extent improve those bases. My point is that these bases were built to support the mission in Iraq and don't in and of themselves indicate that we mean to have 100,000+ troops in Iraq indefinitely.

We built huge and expensive bases in Bosnia and Kosovo too. And some of the same issues of permanent construction and the Clinton administration's long-term intentions were raised back then as well. And in the end, we drew down our forces regardless of what types of bases we had built. The bottom line is that if we are going to deploy our troops for any extended reconstruction mission, there will be a push to consolidate them into fewer but more solidly built installations. And that is what is happening in Iraq.

Could these bases be used as the core installations for a Germany-like deployement of forces into Iraq for the next several decades. Yes they could. But would we be doing the same things even if we knew for certain all US forces would be out of Iraq in say 5 years, I think we would. After all, we aren't talking about building bowling alleys and red brick family homes on these bases in Iraq.

The current drive, as the Post makes clear, is to draw out forces into a small number of large bases where they still provide a stabilizing presence but where the Iraqis handle most of the patrol work. Once that happens then we will need to decide, as a country and with the Iraqis, if we want to maintain a large force in Iraq on these bases or if we should pull them all back to the States.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Scores of tens of thousands of troops will remain in the country" ???

One score of 10,000 troops is more that we currently have in Iraq.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw,

Actually, it was my daughter's observation (and one shared by her partner, an officer who directed construction projects) that Balad was more developed than Schofield. And from the pictures she brought home, I'd have to say, I agree. Anaconda (Balad) is an enclosed city. You have to leave Schofield now for anything beyond the most basic services. My point is simply that there is no debate. It's a done deal.

We'll be there for a while, all right. Why else would "We Don't Do Nation-Building" Bush invest so much American blood and money there if it wasn't the plan all along (even though PNAC proves that it was)? And Bush has already said getting out of Iraq will be someone else's problem.

Posted by: Gaia on June 9, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK
That's a great point, Mike, but why were we building them before the Iraqi government was in place?

The same reason we had American right-wingers rewriting the Iraqi tax code and working to privatize Iraqi state industries before the Iraqi government was in place -- if the Iraqi people had a choice, they might say "no".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Don't the Iraqis get a choice in this?

Or, is the plan to keep them in chaos for the next 20 years, so they "need our help"?

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on June 9, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's called Camp Victory and is indicated by the military to be an embassy however it is heavily fortified, 2/3rd the size of the mall in Washington DC, and has cost nearly 1 billion dollars. Those involved in it's construction realize that it is more a military base than an embassy due to construction, size, and expense. It's meant for permanant use regardless of what the Iraqi's do with respect to governance. In how many other countries does the US spend 1 billion dollars on an embassy? Awol intends to control Iraqi oil from this position.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/victory-imagery-01.htm

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK
Don't the Iraqis get a choice in this?

Well, sure.

They can go along with what our government decides for them, or they can fight us.

That's their choice.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

One score of 10,000 troops is more that we currently have in Iraq.

Sorry, got my descriptive math language mixed up. I should've just said " sixty thousand or so" will probably remain.

Posted by: Windhorse on June 9, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

For those not paying attention,- The Bases - ARE the reason for the war. Along, of course, with a really, really good chance to spread some taxpayer cash around.
Bandar said "not in MY back yard George".

Posted by: jay boilswater on June 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

We have no intention of ever completely leaving Iraq. We are in the process of building the world's largest (by size and by staff) American embassy there. Scores of tens of thousands of troops will remain in the country to protect both our human assets and strategic interests there.

Yes, but we had no intention of ever leaving Vietnam either, and yet they kicked our asses out of there. I don't count on us still being in Iraq in ten years.

Posted by: Stefan on June 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of the United States' design on the region, Iraq is already looking to cement future relationships with its neighbors. From the Financial Times, July 7, 2005:

"Former foes Iraq and Iran announced "a new chapter" in their relations ... including cross-border military co-operation, dismissing US concerns about Iranian regional meddling.

On his first official visit to Tehran, Iraqi minister of defence Saadoun al-Dulaimi asserted his country's sovereign right to seek help from wherever it sees fit in rebuilding its defence capabilities."

Posted by: Botecelli on June 9, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Camp Victory has been there from the very beginning. It used to be a palace complex of Saddam's which is pretty obvious from the imagery unless you thought the U.S. built a massive airport and multiple palaces placed on artificially created lakes. Now you are right that Saddam, when he built the palace compound, didn't also build housing and office space for multiple U.S. brigades so yes the military did build those. But they built them back in 2003-4 to support ongoing operations in Iraq. If you look at some of the other imagery at that site you can see some of the trailers and other temporary facilities that have been built there.

Windhorse - yeah I think we'll have 50,000 or so soldiers in Iraq for a good while until the Iraqi military can decently defend the country.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "The conference committee is a mechanism for negotiating from those different bills to suggest an identical bill that both houses can pass, and anything goes..."

The unlimited powers of conference committees doesn't make this any less absurd. Say we're ordering a pizza:

A - I want olives & mushrooms, but no anchovies.
B - I want pepperoni, but no anchovies.
A & B reach a compromise: half olive & mushroom, half pepperoni, and anchovies over the whole damn thing.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 9, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Spending $1billion on a huge expansion of this area for an embassy departs from rational thought with respect to typical embassy construction. I never implied that the airport was built by the US and if you choose rational discussion then either work on reading comprehension or attempt to stay with subject matter that is actually discussed. The additions that the US is making to this facility is much greater than a typical embassy would require and much more expensive. No. Something else is being developed here and it isn't exactly temporary in any common use of the term. Just in comparison to a description of Bush-to expend this much (the Iraqi's could destroy it all) this much building at this great of an expense is either extremely stupid or incompetent. With Bush's past history-I would guess a tremendous dose of both.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

But the embassy isn't near Camp Victory, they are totally separate things. By the way, the reason the embassy is so big is because the entire staff needs to live in it since they can't exactly live in downtown Baghdad.

But make no mistake about it, you are right that Camp Victory is one of our big bases in Iraq. And yes if we are going to stay in Iraq in the long run it will no doubt be one of the places we may continue to keep forces. But, going back to the original point, that base is going to be large and require lots of money to operate regardless of whether we stay forever or leave in the next few years. Therefore the issue of restricting the construction of hardened buildings is hardly one that forces a premature debate about whether or not we will keep forces in Iraq after Iraq has been stabilized.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a good article about the new embassy and why it is so large. Nice picture too:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12319798/

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

As becomes obvious in a republican controlled government-why spend vast amounts of money on structures on foreign soil which either can be destroyed once we leave or must be defended at great cost as long as we stay unless we have unlimited amounts of money? Oh, that's right-we can just continue to borrow it from the Chinese. Building things like this at this cost either implies stupidity, long-term operations or gross incompetence.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well I imagine we expect the embassy to be there for a long time so that's probably why we are spending a lot of money to build it so that the staff can live there safely.

Plus if you read the Post article on enduring bases, part of the strategy is to turn over bases to the Iraqi military and we are purposely building up some of the base infrastructure so the Iraqis have functioning bases to move into.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse
Taking an abandoned airfield and building a billion-dollar mega-base around it that increases its size by 2000% and includes restaurants, shops, swimming pools, and a Hertz rental outlet to assist in spanning the gigantic base is a new build, all cutesy semantics aside.

Which base are you talking about? Haven't been there myself, but about half the guys in my unit have. They circulate between Balad and Al Asad. I've seen lots of photo tours of both bases (along with a lot of Iraq) and nothing implies to me they were abandoned prior to the war. Al Asad, I know, was massive before we got there, spanning square miles of land.

restaurants, shops, swimming pools, and a Hertz rental outlet

Big deal.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Expenditures of this magnatude and building to this level goes beyond what would be considered sensible in a country that was so historically devisive as this. Just as the neocons failed to understand the difficulties in bringing democracy to this area, they further their ignorance by spending vast amounts of money that America doesn't have on more fruitless ideas that have little regard or rational for the historical nature of the people residing in this area. Again, either they intend to stay along time or throw good money after bad incompetently.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

They're building an embassy and secure housing for the embassy staff. What's so difficult to understand about that?

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I've tried to explain but instead will refer to analogy about a box of rocks.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Your basic point is that because we have spent a lot of money and built large bases for our troops in Iraq and are building a large base we must have plans to stay there forever.

In the middle of all that you've come up with mysterious new bases in the middle of the desert which turned out to be old, established bases just outside of Baghdad. You've managed to relocate the new embassy out by the airport when it is in the green zone. Your managed to confuse the estimated costs for that embassy with the costs associated with building up Camp Victory. And you've now concluded that the fact that we are building a big embassy obviously means we will keep a huge number of troops permanently in Iraq.

You're probably smart to keep that box of rocks anaolgy close by.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 9, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

A - I want olives & mushrooms, but no anchovies.
B - I want pepperoni, but no anchovies.
A & B reach a compromise: half olive & mushroom, half pepperoni, and anchovies over the whole damn thing.
Posted by: Grumpy

Nails it!

Posted by: CFShep on June 9, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Now back to watching 'Today at Belmont' on ESPN2 even if it does mean having to listen the insufferable Randy Moss. Still more entertaining than the trolls.

'I got the horse right here....'

Posted by: CFShep on June 9, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

That is not nor has it ever been my basic point. My basic point is one questioning the intelligence of spending this kind of resources on such a questionable adventure. No one can tell the length of time that the US will inhabit Iraq and I choose not to guess. My concerns are whether their are underlying plans of extended operation or else why the extent of such a build up? If you cannot grasp these issues then that is really not my problem-take some reading comprehension courses at a local college. Your assertions that any discussion of the cost and size of bases in Iraq in no way could constitute a policy of permanence is rather limited if not blind. One base, as yet unnamed, is being developed near Nasiriyah and might be considered not out in the desert, I won't make that distinction again. However Balad is said to be as large as 15 square miles. I thought information indicated that the US embassy and the airport facility were one in the same but of that I was wrong. They are both in or near Bagdad. The US embassy will cost $592 million at least and will cover 104 acres. It will be the largest embassy in the world. The embassy will be independent of city facilities. Any US citizen has the right to question these levels of expenditure within a country with which we are at war. One of the considerations for this level of spending must be the time line at which these expensive facilities will be used. If they are temporary then why so much? US ownership of vast amounts and square miles of a foreign country must always be a major concern. If we plan to eventually donate it all to Iraq then it is equally senseless. Perhaps you can develop a list of practical reasons as to why we would want to spend this type of money beyond those of staying there long distance or ultimately donating it to the Iraqis or just blowing some money. There are several other expensive bases being developed all of which can be learned about by merely googling US-Iraq bases. If they are not permanent then it would seem that we could save vast amounts of money by making them more temporary-which is my point.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Osama
...something...

Please insert paragraph breaks somewhere.

Posted by: Red state mike on June 9, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, but I spend most of my time trying to be super poor so I won't have to pay taxes. Let's see, if I have 12 kids and make $8000/year then......I will be unrepresented by any congressional representative. I would actually have to be incorporated and donate to republicans to be represented. Then I could be red skate mike.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

I advise keeping several big bases as these will be very useful to support an anti-missile defense system to prevent Iran from actually launching warheads at either Israel or Europe.

Boeing is presently building a 747-based Star Wars missile defense system that would be quite effective against the North Korean missiles that Iran is buying. These airplanes will have to loiter over Iraqi airspace and they must be safe there, which the super-bases will insure. These superbases are also superbly situated to keep Syria and Saudi Arabia in line and could support any actions that may be necessary against Pakistan.

BTW, don't you think that Osama bin Laden gets a lot more nervous now whenever he hears a jet aircraft overhead?

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 10, 2006 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

War is simply terrorism with a bigger budget.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 10, 2006 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

>>Please insert paragraph breaks somewhere.
Posted by: Red state mike

I second that request. Paragraphs are your friends.

>>War is simply terrorism with a bigger budget.
Posted by: Stephen Kriz

How about: War is simply terroism with better PR.

Posted by: CFShep on June 10, 2006 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country, a lawmaker and congressional aides said on Friday.

The $94.5 billion emergency spending bill, which includes $65.8 billion to continue waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is expected to be approved by Congress next week and sent to President George W. Bush for signing into law
****************

We had your debate. Your side lost.

Posted by: rdw on June 10, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

How about: Modern War is about the elimination of terrorism.

Terrorism is about getting braindead donkeys to strap bombs on their backs and blow up little girls.

Modern Warfare is about the bravest of the brave taking on the most pitiful of losers unable to create a decent life for themselves and taking the easy way out.

Look at the bio of Zarqawi. The man was born a loser and lived every day as a failure at the things that matter. A pudgy terrorist who can't fire the simpliest of guns while wearing tennis shoes. Cleary the deranged mind the result of a gay man in an 8th century culture looking for redemption in butchery

Posted by: rdw on June 10, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

'The man was born a loser and lived every day as a failure at the things that matter.'
--rdw

Sounds exactly like George W. Bush.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 10, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't Barbara Lee, the only congresscritter that thought Amerikkka was too corrupt and evil to go after Afghanistan, the wrong person to be out on point on this issue?

Posted by: minion of rove on June 10, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen,


I suspect Al Gore and John Kerry won't agree.

Posted by: rdw on June 10, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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