Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Base At A Time

On Monday, the “war czar” Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said that establishing permanent military installations in Iraq would be a “key item” for US-Iraqi negotiations on long-term security ties next year. Today, the Administration’s in-house mouthpiece Dana Perino denied that there were any such plans for permanent bases in Iraq. So which is it? Either we are or we aren’t. It’s very disturbing that people within the same administration, who should all be on the same page, aren’t.

Remember that Donald Rumsfeld, then US Defense Secretary, said in an April 21, 2003 press conference: "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting. ... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge. Why do I say it's low? Well, we've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region. ... “He repeated the denial on February 17, 2005, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "I can assure you that we have no intention at the present time of putting permanent bases in Iraq." Knowing how long it takes to implement such a plan, we can safely assume that Rumsfeld, along with the rest of the Administration, was lying again.

The Administration has shown, time and again that what it says and what it does are very often very different. In spite of it‘s denials, the fact is that it continues to plan and construct bases that are built to be permanent, because tucked away in the fine print of an $82 billion appropriations bill passed by Congress in May provides for “the Army to provide temporary facilities, and in some very limited cases, permanent facilities… These facilities include barracks, administrative space, vehicle maintenance facilities, aviation facilities, mobilization-demobilization barracks, and community support facilities." But while Congress won’t even discuss the idea of permanent bases, they will talk about “enduring bases.” What’s the difference? And guess who has the no bid contracts for most of the work to build them? Why, KBR of course.

The American Embassy currently under construction in Baghdad rivals the size of the downtown areas of many mid-sized American cities. Combining the presence of so many bases and the personnel necessary to man and maintain them with the presence of such a huge embassy in a country so small (roughly the size or smaller than most of our Western and Midwestern states) is suspicious at best. As of 2003, the US had 730 permanent military bases in 50 countries around the world, and active duty personnel in dozens of other countries. Why? Some of those countries even have their own militaries, or at least the ability to form them, so our presence there would seem unnecessary.

Looking at a map of the world marking those countries where we have permanent military bases, it looks like we have essentially divided the globe up into chunks small enough that we can get soldiers from those bases to anywhere at almost a moment’s notice--again, why? It reminds me of the way firehouses and police stations in most cities are located to shorten response times in emergencies. Spreading representatives in the form of soldiers and their bases is the tactic of empires seeking domination, not the tactic of democracies helping to spread freedom among the other nations of the world.

Where is the outrage from the Democrats at these ‘enduring bases’? Or have they become a part of this empire building fiasco also? Because all of this empire building would not be such a bad thing were it actually in the cause of freeing the people of the world from tyranny. But we can no longer delude ourselves that this is this administration's intent. Not with a tyrant sitting in the White House taking away our freedoms here at home. Batmanchester

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