[Marxism] Gen. Abizaid indicates long-term troop presence, permanent bases
brian_shannon at verizon.net
Sat Mar 18 13:54:47 MST 2006
> Tom Engelhardt has followed this grossly under-reported story
> closely on his blog at http://www.tomdispatch.org and in this
> article from The Nation:
> [subscription required]
> Can You Say ‘Permanent Bases’?
> by TOM ENGELHARDT
> In a recent Zogby poll, American troops stationed in Iraq were
> asked about an otherwise unexplored subject: the massive network of
> bases the Bush Administration is building in that country. Only 6
> percent said they believed that America’s “real mission” in Iraq
> was “to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region.” You
> can bet your bottom dollar that if Zogby had been able to do an
> honest poll of top Bush Administration officials on the subject,
> he’d have gotten quite a different response.
OPERATION ENDURING FORCES
In an article written over two years ago, after a few paragraphs on
Chalabi, Jim Lobe quotes from an interview with Jay Garner, the first
American proconsul in Iraq. Garner used the Philippines as an example
of long-term occupation.
Following the quickly-fired Garner, the next U.S. honcho in Iraq was
Paul Bremer, whom I heard make allusions to permanent bases on talk
shows just after his appointment. He said that the new Iraq
government might make provisions for the establishment of long-term
U.S. bases. The second article below quotes Karen Kwiatkowski saying
the same when she refers to “Status of Forces” agreements, such as
what the U.S. has in other countries. Unfortunately and of course
purposefully, the written coverage of these talk shows by the U.S.
Press omit Bremer’s frank reference to long-term bases.
In fact, this have been a common theme on TV coverage. It is however
rare to see it in print, except in blogs. The only variation has been
over the number of bases that the U.S. was planning to build and
occupy. One article says 4; another 14.
In a long NY Times article on April 20, 2003, Thom Shanker and Eric
Smitt say that “The United States is planning a long-term military
relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would
grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American
influence into the heart of the unsettled region. . . . Officials ...
spoke of maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq. . . . A military
foothold in Iraq would be felt across the border in Syria, and, in
combination with the continuing United States presence in
Afghanistan, it would virtually surround Iran with a new web of
The article concludes with a statement from Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld. “The subject of a footprint for the United States post-Iraq
is something that we’re discussing and considering, ... [b]ut that
will take some time to sort through.”
However, two days later, the NY Times article was refuted by the NY
Times. The new article, was headlined: Rumsfeld Denies the U.S. Has
Plans for Permanent Iraq Bases
“The article, which cited senior Bush administration officials
speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was
planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging
government of Iraq that could include American bases or future access
to bases. Mr. Rumsfeld said no such discussions had reached his level
at the Pentagon.
“‘The impression that’s left around the world is that we plan to
occupy the country, we plan to use their bases over the longer period
of time, and it’s flat false,’ Mr. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news
The article concludes with the following non-denial denial: “Pressed
on whether the United States has interest in pursuing a future
military relationship with a new Iraqi government, Mr. Rumsfeld said,
‘It may be logical, but we haven’t done it.’” The phrase “logical but
not yet done" or similar language such as “makes sense” is in other
articles on this subject.
The Democratic Party has its own virtually identical plan. In today’s
Democratic Party reply to President Bush, California Senator Dianne
Feinstein said nothing about getting out of Iraq; instead she called
for the “redeployment” of the U.S. troops.
CHALABI, GARNER PROVIDE NEW CLUES TO WAR
By Jim Lobe, February 23, 2004.
Two key players in the White House’s campaign to invade Iraq expose
the real reasons for the war.
. . .
But one of the reasons for going to war was suggested quite directly
by Garner -- who also worked closely with Chalabi and the same cohort
of U.S. hawks in the run-up to the war and during the first few weeks
of occupation -- in an interview with ‘The National Journal’.
Asked how long U.S. troops might remain in Iraq, Garner replied, ‘‘I
hope they’re there a long time’’, and then compared U.S. goals in
Iraq to U.S. military bases in the Philippines between 1898 and 1992.
‘‘One of the most important things we can do right now is start
getting basing rights with (the Iraqi authorities)’’, he said. ‘‘And
I think we’ll have basing rights in the north and basing rights in
the south ... we’d want to keep at least a brigade’’.
‘‘Look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century:
they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep
a great presence in the Pacific. That’s what Iraq is for the next few
decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the
Middle East’’, Garner added.
While U.S. military strategists have hinted for some time that a
major goal of war was to establish several bases in Iraq,
particularly given the ongoing military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia,
Garner is the first to state it so baldly.
Until now, U.S. military chiefs have suggested they need to retain a
military presence just to ensure stability for several years, during
which they expect to draw down their forces.
If indeed Garner’s understanding represents the thinking of his
former bosses, then the ongoing struggle between Cheney and the
Pentagon on the one hand and the State Department on the other over
how much control Washington is willing to give the United Nations
over the transition to Iraqi rule becomes more comprehensible.
Ceding too much control, particularly before a base agreement can be
reached with whatever Iraqi authority will take over Jun. 30, will
make permanent U.S. bases much less likely.
IRAQ: U.S. Digs in for the Long Haul with Base Building
by Joshua Hammer, Mother Jones
February 28, 2005
When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters last
December that he expected U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for another
four years, he was merely confirming what any visitor to the country
could have surmised. The omnipresence of the giant defense contractor
KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown & Root), the shipments of concrete and
other construction materials, and the transformation of decrepit
Iraqi military bases into fortified American enclaves-- complete with
Pizza Huts and DVD stores are just the most obvious signs that the
United States has been digging in for the long haul. . . .Take, for
example, Camp Victory North, a sprawling base near Baghdad
International Airport, which the U.S. military seized just before the
ouster of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. Over the past year, KBR
contractors have built a small American city where about 14,000
troops are living, many hunkered down inside sturdy, wooden, air-
conditioned bungalows called SEA (for Southeast Asia) huts, replicas
of those used by troops in Vietnam. There’s a Burger King, a gym, the
country’s biggest PX and, of course, a separate compound for KBR
workers, who handle both construction and logistical support.
Although Camp Victory North remains a work in progress today, when
complete, the complex will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in
Kosovo-- currently one of the largest overseas posts built since the
Such a heavy footprint seems counterproductive, given the growing
antipathy felt by most Iraqis toward the U.S. military occupation.
Yet Camp Victory North appears to be a harbinger of America’s future
in Iraq. Over the past year, the Pentagon has reportedly been
building up to 14 “enduring” bases across the country long-term
encampments that could house as many as 100,000 troops indefinitely.
John Pike, a military analyst who runs the research group
GlobalSecurity.org, has identified a dozen of these bases, including
three large facilities in and around Baghdad: the Green Zone, Camp
Victory North, and Camp al-Rasheed, the site of Iraq’s former
military airport. Also listed are Camp Cook, just north of Baghdad, a
former Republican Guard “military city” that has been converted into
a giant U.S. camp; Balad Airbase, north of Baghdad; Camp Anaconda, a
15-square-mile facility near Balad that housed 17,000 soldiers as of
May 2004 and was being expanded for an additional 3,000; and Camp
Marez, next to Mosul Airport, where, in December, a suicide bomber
blew himself up in the base’s dining tent, killing 13 U.S. troops and
four KBR contractors eating lunch alongside the soldiers.
. . .
Although the Pentagon considers most of the construction to be
“temporary” designed to last up to three years similar facilities
have remained in place for much longer at other “enduring” American
bases, including Kosovo’s Camp Bondsteel, which opened in 1999, and
Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia, in place since the mid-1990s.
How long is “enduring”? The administration insists that troops will
remain in Iraq as long as it takes to install a functioning,
democratic government, quell the insurgency, and build an efficient
Iraqi fighting force. Given the elusiveness of those goals, many
military experts believe that Rumsfeld’s hope that the troops might
be out by 2008 is wildly optimistic. Retired Marine Corps General
Anthony Zinni, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East from 1997 to
2000, recently predicted that American involvement in Iraq would last
at least 10 more years. Retired Army Lt. General Jay Garner, the
former interim administrator of reconstruction efforts in Iraq, told
reporters in February 2004 that a U.S. military presence in Iraq
should last “the next few decades.” Even that, some analysts warn,
could be an underestimate. “Half a century ago if anyone tried to
convince you that we’d still have troops in Korea and Japan, you’d
think they were crazy,” says Pike, the military analyst. Suspicions
also run deep both inside Pentagon circles and among analysts that
the Department of Defense is pouring billions of dollars into the
facilities in pursuit of a different agenda entirely: to turn Iraq
into a permanent base of operations in the Middle East.
. . .
The other great danger of “enduring” bases, say critics, is that they
tend to operate according to a well-tested axiom: The deeper you dig
in, the harder it is to dig out. That’s hardly reassuring to the
11,400 U.S. soldiers who’ve had their enlistments extended through
the stop-loss clause in their contracts, and to others who’ve been
forced to serve multiple tours in the combat zone.
One indication of an open-ended U.S. occupation is the amount of
money that has already been spent on bases in Iraq. KBR’s first big
building contract there, in June 2003, was a $200 million project to
build and maintain “temporary housing units” for U.S. troops. Since
then, according to military documents, it has received another $8.5
billion for work associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom. By far the
largest sum at least $4.5 billion has gone to construction and
maintenance of U.S. bases. By comparison, from 1999 to this spring,
the U.S. government paid $1.9 billion to KBR for similar work in the
. . .
Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served
in the office of the Secretary of Defense until spring 2003, and has
since become an outspoken critic of the war, says that the
neoconservative architects of the Iraq invasion definitely foresaw a
permanent, large-scale presence. Kwiatkowski says that Pentagon
planners view the bases as vital both for protecting Israel and as
launchpads for operations in Syria and Iran.
The Pentagon, she says, went into the war assuming that once Saddam
was toppled a so-called Status of Forces Agreement, like those the
U.S. government signed with Japan and South Korea, could be quickly
reached with Iraq.
The growth of the insurgency and the vocal opposition to a prolonged
U.S. occupation among Iraqi leaders haven’t changed the plan,
Kwiatkowski insists: “We’re pouring concrete. We’re building little
fiefdoms with security, moats, and walls…. Eighty percent of Iraqis
will grouse, but they have no political power,” she says. “We’ll stay
whether they want us to or not.”
Other American officials heartily dispute that assertion. One U.S.
official who served alongside L. Paul Bremer in the Coalition
Provisional Authority insists that base construction has been an ad
hoc effort, reflecting the changing facts on the ground, not long-
term strategy. “At no time did I ever overhear any meaningful
discussion about ‘permanent bases,’” he says. “I remember asking
Bremer about it from time to time, and he would say, ‘That’s
ludicrous.’ Maybe there are some military guys brainstorming. But it
just isn’t on the agenda.” The official concedes that permanent
basing in Iraq “makes sense” from a strictly strategic perspective,
given the steady reduction of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the
potential volatility of U.S. relations with other Gulf allies, like
Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, which currently have, all together,
an estimated 30,000 U.S. troops stationed within their borders. But
he agrees the consequences of such a move would be disastrous:
Permanent bases “would be under siege, a temptation for terrorists, a
symbol of U.S. occupation. It would totally undermine our political
strategy in Iraq.” Adds Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who serves on the
Senate Armed Services Committee, “The next Iraqi leadership has to
show they are truly sovereign and independent. And that’s hard to do
if they lease significant parts of Iraq to the United States. We’ve
already seen the ability of these insurgents to target our facilities
and attack them. I’d be very reluctant to say this is a good place to
base our troops.”
That’s not to say that the Pentagon isn’t keen to maintain at least
some American presence on the ground. According to one intelligence
source in Baghdad, maintaining a quick reaction force in Iraq would
be essential to prevent, for example, a coup against a friendly Iraqi
government. And the Pentagon sees Iraq as possibly playing a role in
its global realignment of U.S. forces a shift away from the static,
Cold War basing arrangements in Europe to smaller, more flexible
deployments in volatile regions like the Middle East. One model they
point to is Camp Lemonier, which was built in the Horn of Africa
country Djibouti in 2002 and houses about 1,300 troops as well as
facilities for fighter planes.
A high-ranking military officer in the Middle East says that the
Pentagon envisions a small number of bases in Iraq that “in no way
approximates what we have there now.” He insists that “we are not
planning to occupy the country. We’re talking about a small,
unobtrusive presence it could simply be facilities that give you the
capability to come in and out.” That version of “Occupation Lite” may
eventually come to pass. For the foreseeable future, however, it is
difficult to imagine anything other than an enduring status quo: a
heavy troop presence, big bases spread across the country, and a
steadily rising body count.
Also see http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2005/050728-enduring-
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