[Marxism] Gen. Abizaid indicates long-term troop presence, permanent bases to bolster Iraq "moderates"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Mar 18 08:52:15 MST 2006





US 'may want to keep Iraq bases'


Wednesday 15 March 2006

The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq
to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect oil
supplies, the army general overseeing US operations in Iraq has said.

While the Bush administration has downplayed prospects for permanent US
bases in Iraq, General John Abizaid told a House of Representatives
subcommittee on Tuesday he could not rule that out.

Abizaid said that policy would be worked out with a unified, national
Iraqi government if and when that is established, "and it would be
premature for me to predict".

Many Democrats have pressed President George Bush to firmly state that
the United States does not intend to seek permanent military bases in
Iraq, a step they said would help stem the violence there.

Abizaid also told the Appropriations subcommittee on military quality of
life that while an Iraqi civil war was possible, "I think it's a long
way from where we are now to civil war".

Echoing Bush's statement on Monday on the outlook for reducing US forces
in Iraq, Abizaid said if Iraqis can form a unified government, "I think
there's every reason to believe ... that we'll be able to bring the size
of the force down much more so by December of '06".

Deterring Iran

Abizaid cited the need to fight al-Qaida and other extremists groups and
"the need to be able to deter ambitions of an expansionistic Iran" as
potential reasons to keep some level of troops in the region in the long

But he said it would be far less than the 200,000 currently deployed in
the region, including 132,000 in Iraq.

"Clearly our long-term vision for a military presence in the region
requires a robust counter-terrorist capability," Abizaid said.

"No doubt there is a need for some presence in the region over time
primarily to help people help themselves through this period of
extremists versus moderates."

Vital interest

Abizaid also said the United States and its allies have a vital interest
in the oil-rich region.

"Ultimately it comes down to the free flow of goods and resources on
which the prosperity of our own nation and everybody else in the world
depend," he said.

Representative David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, questioned "what
kind of signal that sends to the American people and to the Iraqis and
the region ... if somehow there is ambiguity on our ultimate designs in
terms of a military presence in Iraq".

Last week the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee,
California Representative Jane Harman, wrote to President Bush urging
him to clearly spell-out his plans in Iraq.

The administration's "continuing failure to clarify US intentions
provides an excuse for certain Iraqis to avoid compromise and
jeopardises our ability to succeed in Iraq," she said







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