A Bad Idea

"The plan for permanent bases in Iraq must have been long in the making. The president ignored a recommendation of the Baker-Hamilton Commission that he state that America seeks no permanent bases in Iraq. At one point last year, the Senate and House passed an amendment to the military-spending bill banning the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq. The bill went to conference and then the ban on bases, adopted by both chambers, mysteriously disappeared.

The building of four bases along with a gigantic new American embassy in the Green Zone on the Tigris River has been moving along rapidly. The bases will have runways two miles long to accommodate the largest American planes. The Balad base north of Baghdad covers 14 square miles. Another base is planned for the area that was ancient Babylon.

The new embassy, which will be the largest American mission in the world, will be complete with swimming pool and commissary. Retired General Anthony Zinni has said that permanent bases are "a stupid idea." He said that they will damage America’s image in the whole region.

These huge installations must be intended for more than Iraqi stabilization. Former President Jimmy Carter said in a speech in February of last year that "the reason we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region." And few are missing the point that bases in Iraq will keep American might on Iran’s doorstep."  Yahoo News


Zinni is right.  This is a bad idea.  The reason for that is simple.  The peoples of the region and across the world of Islam will regard this as proof that they were correct in their previous belief that all the high rhetoric about "liberation" and "democracy" was a lie and that the war in Iraq is simply a renewal of Western imperialism in the Middle East.  They will see this as inherently anti-Islamic, a "crusade" against their religion and Islamicate culture.

The presence of such permanent bases will unify resistance against us even if those fighting us continue to fight each other.  People who are now starting to turn to cooperation with American forces in order to resist the AQ jihadis, will return to fighting us as our intentions become increasingly clear.  These bases and the embassy will be effectively surrounded and under continuous if sporadic indirect fire attack with mortars and rockets.  A continuing and perhaps increased program of attacks against our supply lines is to be expected.

If there is an expectation that there will be support for such a presence in any of the surrounding states, that expectation is mistaken.  Even if some of the governments voice support in private, they will be under such popular pressure to oppose the permanent US garrisons that their support will be unreliable and in some cases the governments will secretly support those who oppose us. 

Altogether, it is difficult to see what the point would be in establishing such bases.

Oil?  No.  Once again, the oil markets don’t work that way.  pl


This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to A Bad Idea

  1. Antifa says:

    It’s about full spectrum dominance.
    The two biggest strategic prizes remaining on this spinning globe are the oil reserves under Iraq and Iran’s Khuzestan province, and the natural gas deposits under the Caspian Basin.
    America will be out of the superpower game if those resources are not sold under the current Petrodollar system. If those assets are sold under other currencies, America loses its extreme advantage of providing the de facto global currency.
    It ain’t about the oil directly and specifically. It is about economic advantage between jostling superpowers. As Russia regains some of its former muscle on the world stage, and as China and India outpace and outperform the American economy, the Middle East will either remain an American sphere of influence, selling its dwindling energy assets under the dollar system, or it will become a Chinese, Russian, or Other empire’s sphere of influence.
    How serious is America’s wealthy class about maintaining dominance over there?
    Nuclear serious.

  2. lina says:

    “They will see this as inherently anti-Islamic, a ‘crusade’ against their religion and Islamicate culture.” PL
    You say that like it’s a BAD thing, but it is exactly the policy of the Cheney-Neocon-PNAC wing of the Republican Party. These are the people who have been driving U.S. foreign policy for 6 years. The average FOX News watcher thrives on this. George Bush got reelected with the votes of 3 million religious fanatics who BELIEVE in this crusade. If it leads to the destruction of civilization as we know it, well, the sooner we’ll all be raptured into heaven. (Well, not you Col., because you’re obviously not following the right script.)

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Crusaders’ Castle; a.k.a. Fort Apache.

  4. FB Ali says:

    Your assessment of this dangerous plan and its likely effects is quite correct. The only thing I would add is that it will further destabilize the US-friendly regimes in the area. The strong reaction among the peoples of the Middle East to this “colonial” military presence will extend towards the pro-US governments in the region. No Iraqi government that accepts these bases will ever acquire legitimacy among the Iraqi people. This will provide another rallying point for all the opponents of other such regimes.

  5. graeme says:

    This petrodollar stuff has never made a lick of sense to me. Switching from dollars to Euros would mean a one-off decline in demand for dollars.
    That’s all.
    Also, if you haven’t been paying attention, America has been trying its damndest to get China to stop buying treasury bills…ie. lowering the demand for american currency.

  6. Jerry Thompson says:

    This is not just a bad idea, it is a VERY bad idea. It is not just stupid, it is wrong-headed on a scale for which my vocabulary is inadequate. An Arabic word comes to mind, “waHshy” (transliteration doubtful), conveying a sense of “wild, savage, brutal” in the sense of unspeakable violence like that of a ferocious wild beast — a lion or a wolf on a kill. It represents a complete turning away from “the idea of America” . If this doesn’t bring us a confrontation with a nuclear Iran, and perhaps the Russians to boot, I can’t imagine how to prevent it.

  7. Martin K says:

    American bases on top of the ruins of Babylon. Sounds like achristian nut-case conspiracy theory, or some variant of the Thule-societys expeditions to Antarctica and Tibet. Or a H.P. Lovecraft novel, for those of you familiar with that author.
    On a serious side, I do not understand how you propose to hold on to defensive positions in hostile territories for a long stretch. It does not seem like a sustainable policy to me, and it indicates that either A) the effort to build bases is a yet another scam in order to shovel money to Haliburton, or B) The admin is genuienly naive and still believes in the theory of the “inner american” in all humans, who will thank you all for saving their country in the end , just like the movies. I wont contemplate C): That they are all waiting for the good lord Jesus to come any day now and make it all irrelevant.

  8. J says:

    Also it seen as ‘Israeli expansion’, and many view the U.S. as nothing more than an extension or vassal of what many consider as Israeli imperialism for eventual total Israeli control and rule of the entire Mideast.

  9. Happy Jack says:

    America will be out of the superpower game if those resources are not sold under the current Petrodollar system. If those assets are sold under other currencies, America loses its extreme advantage of providing the de facto global currency.
    I would suggest reading this, or perhaps this. There is nothing preventing a country from converting their reserves to euros, even after the fact.

  10. chimneyswift says:

    One thing that has long been clear to me regardingthe construction of htese bases is that they form their own argument for staying.
    If we build these giant, fortified bases in strategically significant locations, then they become strategic assets. We then “cannot afford” to allow any party hostile to us to inherit them, thus we must stay in Iraq.
    The construction of these bases is about making it harder to leave. Why do we want to be there in the fisrt place? Because some historically ignorant (in both senses) fools want us to be universally acknowledged as a global imperial power.

  11. bhagwhan says:

    I do not actually think it is a move to maintain the $s supremacy. After all what benefit would an oil market priced in Euros be to the Chinese? How are they going to be able to pay for their oil addiction with a pile of $’s that continues to fall in value?
    While for the Russkies, again what is the point in joining any Iranian inspired Euro denominated oil market? At some point that will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, when the USA drags the rest of the world into a ’30s style slump.
    Presumably these competing oil suppliers/consumers have learned the lessons that the Arabs did in the mid 70s, that you screw with global oil market to your own long term economic/political disadvantage.
    The only monetary loser here will be the good old US tax payer. It will fund the construction of these bases, without being told that they are only viable with a mega Berlin style airlift for everyone. This is just another example of the vapidity of thought that dominates the current US political class (and that includes Hillary, not just dumb Georgie, who too is keen to fund a stay behind presence).

  12. Col.
    I’d be interested in your viewpoint of the current labor unrest in Basra.
    It seems that besides IED’s Iraqis – and the Mideast street generally – have other, heretofore unexplored, tools to asert their displeasure with the Bush administrations apparent plans for their future.

  13. LJ says:

    “Altogether, it is difficult to see what the point would be in establishing such bases.”
    Don’t we have hundreds of bases established worldwide? Isn’t Iraq in the zone of instability? Isn’t Iraq the “central front in the war on terror?” Don’t all of America’s problems stem from our failure to deter those nations who would seek to be a rival in a unipolar world?
    Given this logic, bases make a lot of sense. But then to have a compliant Iraqi government, which was part of the original goal (Chalabi), giving us basing rights and handing out favorable contracts to certain corporations would certainly be a nice dessert if not the center of the creamy nugget in a country with huge oil reserves. Wouldn’t it be advantageous for us to be able to supplant OPEC by controlling the Iraqi oil spigot?
    But wait there’s more: we could guarantee Israel’s security by putting Iran and Syria in a box. And in so doing, a Pax Americana would be established which would lead to an unbridled time of wealth creation.
    Clearly, the advantages of going to war with Iraq far outweighed any supposed disadvantages. It was a no brainer.
    Col. Lang, it does seem to me that the control of Iraqi oil spigot in a time of oil being priced by the marginal barrel, would be a significant advantage. I see oil as the lynch pin that has held and will continue to hold the logic of Iraqi gambit together.

  14. confusedponderer says:

    Mr Lang,
    I have a question in reference to your thread You want to leave who behind?. There you argued that after a partial withdrawal the remaining US assets would be at a greater risk than with the troops available now. I understand that as meaning either complete withdrawal, but no underdone ‘compromises’. Correct?
    In the Kurdistan thread you mentioned that the US are a de-facto regional power now and have to accept their responsibility – to mediate a ‘Concert of the Middle East’, or stay? Do you see a US military presence there as necessary? Wouldn’t US influence be served better, cheaper, non-provocative by diplomacy, that is, more subtle embassies than the ‘Baghdad Citadel’?
    If it is about the latter that would imply permanent bases. How can permant bases be considered viable, when US presence in Iraq is opposed by about anybody but the Kurds, and even by them only as long and insofar as the US serve their romantic nationlism. The notion that the Mesopotamians will eventually come to accept the US having a legitimate presence in Iraq strikes me as delusional.
    Having read Pape’s The strategic logic of suicide terrorism I wonder if a permanent US presence does more harm than good. Do you see the ‘offshore ballancing’ he proposes as a viable alternative?

  15. dan says:

    I imagine that the point of such bases, as per the original conception, was that in conjunction with a friendly Iraqi government giving carte blanche usage of facilities and airspace, and the showers of sweets and flowers of shiny happy Iraqis holding hands with America, they would be useful in projecting military power/threats of force/ political leverage throughout the region – ie against Iran, Syria, Hizbullah etc.
    Whilst this scenario has not survived first contact with reality, there still seems to be some hope that the Iraq reality can be re-engineered into a less inconvenient configuration than currently obtains.
    The question that has as yet to be asked ( and which I have no idea how to answer ) is, given the entropy trap that the US military is now stuck in, what is the minimum garrison level required for it to sustain itself in Iraq without progressively heading towards a collapse of some description?

  16. stanley Henning says:

    I’m speechless. we appear to be heading to the brink.

  17. arbogast says:

    Okay, I’m no expert, but the reason for the bases is one word:
    Zionist domination of American politics is at its zenith. We have editorials in the Wall Street Journal calling on Americans to sacrifice their only sons in the fight against “Islamofascism” that oh so convenient conflation of Hitler and the Arab world. A call for a “reverse Passover” if you will.
    The United States has become the 51st State of Israel.
    That is the reason for the bases: young American men and women are now Israel’s Hessians.

  18. Got A Watch says:

    Spot on analysis Col. But if it is obvious to us, why is it so difficult for Washington insiders to perceive the plain facts in front of their face?
    Antifa – your rhetoric sounds good, but it is way behind the facts on the ground. America has already lost the “Great Game” for Central Asian oil, and the “PetroDollar” system is collapsing.
    Refer to Asia Times Online, where many quality writers have published articles in the last few years recounting how the US loses every time, totally out-maneuvered by Russia and China, when trying to get the oil out of Central Asia. I can supply some links, but the works of W. Joseph Stroupe (http://geostrategymap.com/) and F. William Engdahl are prime examples of coldly realistic assessments of how the Great Game was lost. As we discuss it now, the oil is flowing to Russia and then mostly east to China. The Russians and Chinese own the pipelines and a lot of the oilfields, and have little interest in selling any of that oil to the USA.
    As for the “PetroDollar System”, that quaint concept is crumbling daily, often led by “allies” of America. Today, Iran, Venezuela and Russia are switching all oil exports over to their native currencies or Euros. Norway has been sellling all their production in Euros for years. The others listed above have around half of their oil exports priced in non $ now, and will get to 100% eventually. Gulf oil producers are bailing out of the $, Kuwait has gone, UAE looks next, the rest will be there soon. Saudi will be last, but when they look around and see all their neighbors are not $ based any more, they will wonder why they should remain the last hold-out. Despite massive American arm-twisting, you can be sure.
    And if the American oligopolists are “elite”, their IQ credentials need to be examined, and their lofty position re-evaluated. They have led America to the brink of long-term strategic disaster, and probably guaranteed that they won’t get to burn any of that oil they profess to be so concerned about.
    The complete idiocy of chasing control of a diminishing resource that will be pretty much exhausted in 15-20 years – Middle East oil – is not even considered. If America had put the amount of money wasted on the Iraq adventure into alternative, renewable and efficiencey technologies, the USA could be the world leaders in this field, and exporting the equipment to many nations. That position has been ceded to Germany and other Euro nations, and even China is now entering the alt/green industry sector.
    America could thus have been well-positioned to weather the declining-production phase of the Oil Age, popularily known as Peak Oil. It IS happening right now, and the implications for a non-prepared America are profound.
    Real leadership means planning for what can be actually accomplished, not placing all your bets on delusional fantasy. Ron Paul has it exactly right, which is why he is attacked or ignored by the MSM, his ideas are deadly poison to a naked Imperial America.

  19. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Time for another post straight outta my hind quarters while I wait for the missus to leave before I crank up the stereo to “11” and clean the house…
    My guess is that these guys are bound and determined to show that we aren’t going to skedaddle like we did in Vietnam, Beirut and other smaller terrorist strikes. Nope, this time we’re fighting for the long term – until the other side peters out – hell or high water.
    If they know their history, they probably have studied how we dealt with the Barbary pirates when we were a fledgling nobody and based their entire foreign policy on that.
    Barbary Wars
    Almost everyone running the show today conveniently missed service during Vietnam. I think they came up with their own list of mistakes made back then and decided to show the world that we are still top dog by invading Iraq the “right” way. To show the world that Vietnam was a one-time clusterf*ck screwed up by incompetent politicians.
    Nope, this time The Executive is going to run the show 100%. No draft. No higher taxes. No meddling from Congress. No open news reporting. No draped coffins on the nightly news. No more “failed ME policies” from the last 60 years leading to “false choices.”
    We’ll go in there and show the world what we can really do and negate Vietnam, Beirut, the USS Cole, the first World Trade towers attack, and all the other smaller terrorist attacks we supposedly ignored. It’ll be like the golden years right after WWII all over again, but without the Soviet Union holding us back.
    Of course, everyone is seeing the limits of our power now and it’s only making matters worse! Everyone’s seeing us fail. So we definitely cannot leave now within this logic.
    If it’s not about economic interests, then that’s my guess and I’m sticking to it! (Well, until next week when I change my mind for the umpteenth time.)

  20. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I presume that most of what you have said here is ironic.
    Yes. We have a lot of bases but they are not in active war zones. To maintain numerous big installations in actively hostile territory amidst paeoples skilled in irregular warfare is a vast and ominous undertaking.
    Does it seem to you that Iran and Syria are “in a box?”
    You think that the price per barrel of oil can be controlled by opening and closing “the spigot” on Iraqi oil? Even if that were possible economically, do you see any prospect of being able to do that ant time soon considering the combat situation?

  21. Permanent bases in Iraq is an idea that is beyond bad. I don’t think the English language has strong enough words to characterize how wrong-headed it is. Very good analysis.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. I would continue to argue that the maintenance of these bases will require a force just about as large as the present force when all requirements; combat, logistical, communications, transportation, etc. are taken into consideration. This, of course, is not MY solution. I still want my “Concert of the Middle East” solution applied.
    Yes. Diplomacy is the answer, but that diplomacy must have some bargaining “weights” on the american side, the most important of which is the presence of our force until agreements are reached.
    Whether or not the idea is delusional, it will probably be necessary to keep some military presence in the area to protect our embassy in the event of serious attack. If the Kurds want an american military presence, I can imagine that a US/Turkish agreement for an extended presence there could be reached. pl

  23. graeme says:

    Do you really think it will be feasible to protect the US embassy, assuming most of the rest of the force leaves? If so, would it be worth the effort? They already have to wear body armor in the green zone.
    I’ve always imagined instead that this will end somewhat like Saigon in ’75

  24. D.Witt says:

    To paraphrase Rummy, ‘you go to war with the leaders you have.’ In this case, the US leaders are backed by Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex.
    Therefore, alternative energy and diplimacy are both seen as irrelevant, because they don’t do anything to advance the selfish interests of this government’s backers.
    Big Oil and the MIC are not unhappy with the current situation, because profits are at all-time highs in the oil biz, and the MIC are like union guys for the war effort–all they have to do is show up and get paid.
    US govt. policy decisions in the region, seem to be largely driven by the old saw ‘Everything looks like a nail to a man whose only tool is a hammer,’ and what seems to be brilliant idea in a Beltway drawing room over cocktails is wilting under the heat of the mideast sun.
    To sum up, it seems that our current leadership is indeed a ‘bag of hammers!

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Baghdad is not like Saigon in those days. In Baghdad the enemy is already in the city and is likely to become more numerous in a crisis.
    In Saigon there was a native force that at least slowed up the occupation of the city long enough for the fleet to evacuate people.
    In Baghdad in a crisis it is easy to envision the embassy being immediately besieged by forces already in place.
    What I am talking about is a force sufficent to effect and protect an evacuation. Baghdad is a long way from the sea. That means there have to be some forces on the ground somewhere nearby.
    If you prefer to wait and see if the insurgents would massacre the embassy’s personnel, I do not share your inclination. pl

  26. Martin K says:

    Colonel: That is a grim picture you are drawing, unfortunately I am inclined to agree with you. The endgame in Baghdad will be tricky, if the current parameters keep standing.The only thing I can see solve Iraq now would be a massive clampdown using 200000 extra soldiers in a peacekeeping mode. (Small pet project: Draft the chinese army. Pay China and give Iraq to them. They could have accomplished the mission. Sigh.)
    BTW, I would like to see the helicopter evac-plan of the green zone. I wonder how many of the guestworkers it provides for…

  27. jr786 says:

    The bill went to conference and then the ban on bases, adopted by both chambers, mysteriously disappeared.
    A chilling phrase. Seems like there could be a Pulitzer buried in there.
    Muslims will read the Super-Embassy as a latter day Crusader Castle and tangible proof that the GWOT is indeed a direct assault on Islam. I’m sure the wise people who removed the ban on these bases understand that they have provided the missing link between Islamists and faltering Arab nationalists.

  28. arbogast says:

    The only way the bases can be protected is either:
    a) a much larger force on the ground than we currently have, or
    b) the threat of an Israel-style bombing of civilian infrastructure (which ultimately won’t work)
    Otherwise, would you not say that it is Dienbienphu, Colonel?
    Kind of the last lesson we have not learned from the French.

  29. VietnamVet says:

    Exactly. As long as there are permanent Christian bases in Iraq, Islam will rebel against the foreign invaders.
    A regional settlement could be negotiated between the Sunni, Shiites and Turks, freezing out the Kurds, but American troops would have to leave Iraq.
    Why are the GOP candidates against a pullout? Why is the new Joint Chiefs Chairman talking about a generational war? Why is corporate media constantly pushing government propaganda? Hubris “How dare the Iraqis resist democracy and freedom” and the Israel lobby.
    But, unlike the Malaise in the 70s when the dollar was separated from gold, when the dollar is separated from oil, the US Empire is finished. Global wealth and oil will flow to where the action is. The American economy, now, consists of financial markets ripping consumers off, ridiculous commutes to service jobs and the Military Industrial Complex.
    Hubris, the Israeli lobby, and holding on to all that oil in the ground will keep the forward bases in Iraq occupied. A Forever War; until global warming, economic collapse or a political revolution ends America’s grand colonial adventure on the other side of the world.

  30. ikonoklast says:

    The plan to build permananent bases isn’t new, only the MSM’s belated reporting of the fact. Along with the embassy, they’ve been under construction for years, and most are scheduled for completion in September. The same deadline as the promised evaluation of the surge, which may be a coincidence.

  31. GSD says:

    I still smell a massive collapse in Iraq.
    Reports that the US has begun arming insurgent groups to fight Al Qaeda sounds like a disaster waiting in the wings.
    Insurgent groups will use their wiley ways, take the US money and arms, beat back Al Qaeda and then turn on the US when the time is right.
    Shiites might also be getting that “stabbed in the back” feeling as the US helps to arm Sunni insurgents.
    There may come a day when the walls of the modern day Temple of Babylon, that is the 600 million dollar US embassy compound, will be used much in the same way as the Iranians used the US embassy in 1979. A giant prison.
    Bush’s biggest hope is that the wolf can be kept from the door until after January 2009.
    Remember when one point of US rhetoric had that Saddam spent millions of dollars on his palaces while his people languished and suffered?

  32. Don Schmeling says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I hesitate before posting on this blog because of the high standards set. But does this thought seem at all reasonable to anyone else??
    Maybe a large factor in the permanent bases being built, is simply that they are the only thing the Army can build that is self protecting.
    I’m assuming the army has a large number of engineers that must be kept busy. If they build anything else; schools, roads, hospitals, etc. they will be quickly destroyed after they are built and the army moves away. It sounds like the whole reconstruction effort in Iraq is in tatters. So keep everyone busy and relatively safe, building bases for the soldiers who protect the builders and the project.

  33. Eaken says:

    There is a lot of talk about the role Iran has to play in this. I believe Iran is the key to solving this puzzle. There seems to be a dichotomy of regime change and making a deal with the existing government.
    I don’t believe these two events are mutually exclusive. Make a deal with Iran, even if you have to bite your lip to do so, and our true enemies will not only show themselves but what will result in Iran is regime change. The people might not all be swapped out, but you will see a dramtic change for the positive in the political climate and rhetoric coming out of Iran.

  34. LJ says:

    Col. Lang., Thanks for your reply. Regarding this: “I presume that most of what you have said here is ironic.”
    Nothing I said was meant as a rational argument. Everything I said was suggestive of the kind of thinking that has gotten us into this mess. IF you agree with the logic, then bases are a great idea and quite sane.
    Your correct comment that our bases are not in war zones according to the logic that I was mouthing, try this: “The reason there is no war in these places is BECAUSE we have bases there. The reason that we are in so much trouble in the ME now is because we have not invaded sooner. We were appeasing the Islamofascists. Therefore, we have should have gone in long before and certainly we need to be there now.”
    No, of course, Iran and Syria are not in a box. But once again, if you use the kind of twisted thinking I have been quoting, then one would answer, “Not yet, but sooner or later, they will be as long as we do not surrender.”
    Actually, my answer was meant to propose an answer to your original puzzlement about why we would want permanent bases. If you grant the proponents of the war (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) their logic, their way of thinking, then permanent bases make a lot of sense.

  35. Montag says:

    You also need a U.S. Ambassador who isn’t joined at the hip with Rosey Scenario and can implement evacuation plans “in a timely manner.”

  36. LJ says:

    Regarding the Petrodollar theory, it seems to me that Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatowski was quoted shortly after her retirement that she was hearing “the crazies” in the Office of Special Plans talking about this issue as being very important. I can’t find an reference now, however.
    For me, the issue gets down to the logic of the proponents, no matter how credible the logic is.

  37. Grimgrin says:

    I’m wondering if the people pushing for a war with Iran are also pushing for these bases. It’s worth remembering that the Iranian SCUD-C variant Shahab-2 has a reported CEP of 50m. Hell with a base 14 square miles large even a SCUD-B variant will be able to hit something reliably. And I have no doubt the Iranians know the exact location of each of these bases. Given the rather uninspiring performance of missile defense and “Scud hunters” last time around I wouldn’t want to be in one of these places if bombs start falling on Iran.
    The problem with ascribing motives in this war is that I don’t think the administration had a single motive. Bush had his messianic quest for Freedom Democracy and one upping his Dad. The PNAC types saw it as a way for the US to break the ‘constraints’ that had been placed on US power and replace international law as established post WW2 with American fiat. The Likudniks saw it as a way to eliminate a strategic threat to Israel. There were people who actually believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and collaborated with Al Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks. And I think oil was a motive, especially for Cheney and his supporters. I don’t however think that it’s ever been about securing the supply of oil. Rather it’s been about ensuring that western firms make the profits of development of Iraq’s oil sector. The sanctions regime was going to come down eventually, and when it did, Russian and Chinese firms were going to be the ones reaping the profits from Iraq’s undeveloped fields.
    Now, here’s some guesses as to why each interest group might want the bases. The oil profits crew want these to ensure that they can steer contracts to favored firms. After all it’s no good getting rid of Saddam if the new government decides to get in bed with the Chinese anyway. Those still chasing the dream of American dominance need the bases to project power more reliably than can be done with a carrier. The Likudniks want them to keep the US in Iraq to act as a buffer against Iran and it’s power in the region.
    I suspect that the real reason the bases are being built is similar to the reason WMD’s were used to justify the war. The fractured motivations for going to war meant that the Administration settled on the WMD story because it was “one reason everyone could agree on”. They feel like they have to do something, and this is the only thing everyone can agree on.

  38. avedis says:

    Permanent bases were always part of the plan. The concept was spelled out clearly and unmistakably in the seminal PNAC manifesto. Those that developed the document are now the very same folks who architected the war and have POTUS’ ear.
    The rational was a little murky, but seemed to have something to do with a mighty military hegemenous empire projecting its “power” and expanding while the gettin’ is good.
    So the lunatics have been working towards this end for a number of years. Clinton shot them down, but Bush the lesser has been their eager and compliant yes man.
    There was also a call for permanent bases of the sort being constructed in Iraq to be built in “key” countries across the globe.

  39. Sid3 says:

    General Zinni — American hero…and one who was called a traitor by the OSP/DFP crowd in the Pentagon.
    In my opinion if you want to see the intent of our ME foreign policy under this administration, then you simply ask the question, “What would a rapturist do?” and probabilities increase that you can determine Bush’s “weltanschauung” and from their deduce an intent.
    Ah yes…a rapturist foreign policy. Sales of the “Left Behind” series notwithstanding, the concept of “deus ex machina” is considered the worst of all literary devices, and, in real life it will lead to extraordinary suffering among the people of the world and the decline of a great nation — one whose founding fathers totally rejected the concept of state sponsored religious war (contrary to arguments of Michael Novak at AEI).
    Anecdotal evidence through the grapevine indicates the rapturist ideology has made great inroads on our military bases. I am a civilian and old school, but I can’t imagine trusting a military officer who relied solely on deus ex machina. My point: The rapturist ideology does not appear to constitute what Sun Tzu would call an “animating spirit” that would help troops survive the stress of ongoing battle. So dissent among the troops and fragmentation of platoons are a greater likelihood, if something like the supply road to Baghdad is cut off by Shia militia.
    If you want a quick read into the mindset of a rapturist, I recommend suffering through Hal Lindsey’s novel, Blood Moon. Dostoyevsky or Erich Maria Remarque he is not. Basically, the novel is a comic book action adventure where Hal Lindsey demonizes “The Prophet” and projects himself into a US SF character who ends up fighting for Israel and also wins over some UN babe just as Deus Ex Machina — the rapture — hits.
    Infantile ego projection all the way.
    A couple of points. Not one sentence in the book empathizes with the suffering of people during war. Totally oblivious. And please note: a US SF character now fights only for Israel. And Lindsey doesn’t realize it but he unwittingly created a main character who was nothing but an incarnation of Stranksy in Cross of Iron. Stranksy all the way.
    So therein are your keys to determining the underlying intent of a rapturist policy maker as well as their understanding of the horror of war.

  40. Cloned Poster says:

    Sid3, are they competent enough to fire nuclear missiles with passcodes etc from Cheney?

  41. JT Davis says:

    Got A Watch… “Ron Paul has it exactly right, which is why he is attacked or ignored by the MSM, his ideas are deadly poison to a naked Imperial America.”
    Those opinions aren’t really unheard of and similar views have been held and expressed by people from one end of the political spectrum to the other for some time. What’s remarkable is that they have rarely been expressed by any Republicans (nominally, Paul’s really a Libertarian) and never by any GOP candidate for the presidency since Sept. of 2001. But you are correct about often being attacked or ignored for expressing those opinions and raise an issue that is of interest and I hope the Col. would be kind enough to comment. I suspect Ron Paul knows he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the GOP nomination so he has little to lose by by making those statements, a refreshingly rare quality in any politician, but Ron Paul’s dogmatic adherence to an absolute policy of non-intervetionism also concerns me. President Paul wouldn’t have intervened multilaterally in the Balkans under the aegis of NATO. I’d be curious to know what the Colonel’s thoughts on the matter would be in the unlikely chance our next C-in-C was a strict non-interventionist and possibly withdrew our troops from all foreign lands. My concern is that turning on a dime and going from full tilt empire building to sitting on your bayonet at home is a bit too much like a bipolar’s mood swing. Not that it’s likely to happen…

  42. confusedponderer says:

    What I don’t get is that the idea is that US influence to be guaranteed requires troops stationed in a region or country. What sort of influence exactly is intended? I find it odd to the extreme that the US regional commander has a greater say and greater financial and political leverage than a local ambassador. Why such a militarisation? If that is so something in foreign relation isn’t right.
    As far as influence is concerned, intelligence work, and diplomacy work wonders. In this sense the Israelis are doing it ‘right’, in the sense that prove it can be done successfully, without a troop presence.

  43. Just an ex grunt says:

    I too am hesitent to post with this group. Just not up to the level of this groupon most subjects. But construction I do know a bit about.
    I suspect ikonoklast is correct in that these bases were not long in the planning as you suggest, Mr. Lang. I suspect they were concieved and launched during the early days when the powers that be
    were so absolutely confident Iraq was going to be our BFF.
    Once underway, major construction has tremendous momentum. Even if it becomes apparent the concept is tragicly flawed, it hardly ever gets stopped. Too much money to be made by some, too much embarassment to face for others.

  44. Leigh says:

    Is it worth pointing out that Saddam was threatening to change the pricing of oil from the dollar to the Euro–and this was just before he was determined to have WMD?

  45. Curious says:

    Some key forces that will come into play by us permently occupying Iraq.
    supporting: Saudi, Israel, Kuwait (the usual arab elite.)
    against: Iran, Syria, everybody who needs that oil (China, India, Pakistan), and Russia for sphere dominance interest. (And bunch of Islamic terrorists groups. But they are really just annoying pests compared to Iran, Russia or China getting into the game)
    I don’t even think we can get the oil out in the next decade without a small crew with unlimited supply of high explosive start blowing up the pipe every other day. (this on top of already striking Iraqi oil worker) So push come to shove, that oil will be gone within 3 months if there is serious effort to destroy Iraq oil instalation.
    How long can we sustain $90-$120/barrel or $5-6 gas?
    If Iraq trend remain constant, expect those gas price.
    That’s just oil. Suppose a player start supplying Iraq insurgency with portable anti armor and more advance high explosive for IED.
    Knowing Iraq infrastructure and transportation system. (long and thin logistic line with only major water way/sea port) Thing can go from bad to hopeless within a year.
    Of course all that is the rosy scenario within 2 years or so. After Iran obtains their nuke, the game changes considerably.
    Nevermind aircraft carrier guarding persian gulf. All the Iranians need is a nuke in a small boat. And the entire water way will be radioactive for several months.
    Wow, we have to invade Canada and Mexico to get oil for sure.
    Bottom line: more weapons and bigger war is not going to solve anything after nuke.
    Iraq occupation is going to be 3-5 years max at current policy direction.

  46. Chris Marlowe says:

    The desire for permanent bases in the ME is not new; it’s just that when the US was getting ready for the Iraqi invasion, it was not widely played up in the press, out of the fear that it would undo support for the war if true intentions were shown.
    Now that it is being more widely discussed, this puts sane Americans in the uncomfortable predicament of hoping that America loses in the ME.
    It is hard to imagine a more divisive scenario for Americans. How the US can hope to dominate world affairs when it is so deeply divided at home is something beyond my ability to understand.

  47. jamzo says:

    the fight against permanent bases in iraq has been going on in the open but it has not gotten any space in the media narrative
    the past
    President George W. Bush said on April 13, 2004, that `as a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support and indefinite occupation and neither does America.’
    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 17, 2005 said, `We have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases in Iraq.’
    U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzhad, declared recently that the U.S. Government does not want permanent military bases in Iraq
    Testifying before Congress in April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “did not directly answer” a question about whether the Bush administration was planning for permanent bases, and Gen. Abizaid has refused to rule it out. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the Bush administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion for new military construction in Iraq.
    The House voted 376-50 for no-permanent-bases. It’s been the law since October. The 2007 “Defense” Authorization bill passed including the same language.
    the Senate acted to unanimously pass an amendment to the supplemental spending bill that clearly stated that none of the appropriated funds should be used for permanent base construction
    Reuters reports that conservatives are quietly backtracking from their earlier stance against permanent base construction in Iraq:
    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.
    d obey
    Congress missed the opportunity to signal its opposition to permanent bases in the recently approved FY 2006 Iraq supplement emergency supplemental. Despite both the House and the Senate including a ban on permanent basing in their respective bills, the conference committee just two week ago jettisoned the provision. Let us hope that the prohibition inserted in this bill will last longer than it did in the FY 2006 supplemental. After all:
    Permanent Bases in Iraq The Committee accepted a Democratic amendment offered by Representative Obey that prohibits the use of funds to enter into military basing rights agreements between the United States and Iraq. In effect, this provision bars the establishment of permanent U.S. bases in that country. This provision is meant to send a clear, unequivocal message to the Iraqi people and to the world that the United States will not indefinitely occupy Iraq.
    Congress missed the opportunity to signal its opposition to permanent bases in the recently approved FY 2006 Iraq supplement emergency supplemental. Despite both the House and the Senate including a ban on permanent basing in their respective bills, the conference committee just two weeks ago jettisoned the provision. We hope that the prohibition inserted in this bill will last longer than it did in the FY 2006 supplemental
    Democrats Pass Revised Iraq Accountability Act
    Since Bush vetoed the Iraq Accountability Act, House Democrats have worked round-the-clock to find ways to fund our troops without writing a blank check for the Bush administration. On Thursday they passed HR 2206, the revised Iraq Accountability Act, by a vote of 221-205.
    from daily kos
    H.R. 2206 and Permanent Bases
    by ohio athiest1
    Sat Jun 02, 2007 at 10:22:36 AM PDT
    SEC. 3301. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act shall be obligated or expended by the United States Government for a purpose as follows:
    (1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.
    (2) To exercise United States control over any oil resource of Iraq.
    This particular portion of the “capitulation bill” doesn’t appear to have been discussed much. The day after signing the bill, the president begins talking about a 50 year presence. I suppose his argument is that 50 years is not “permanent”.
    ohio athiest1’s diary :: ::
    Also…it seems to me that if this particular bit of the bill was put out there in the MSM and played up enough, it could conceivably go a long way towards reducing the strong sentiments against our troops. A lot of their unpopularity with the Iraqi populace seems to be based on these two particular fears (i.e. permanent bases and keeping their oil.).
    It’s also of note that these were both recomendations of the ISG report, and even when that came out, these provisions were hardly discussed then in the MSM.
    Don’t these MSM people realize that they have a great ability to help protect the troops with such discussion ? Or do they not care about what they could do with this ?
    Democrats Pass Revised Iraq Accountability Act
    Since Bush vetoed the Iraq Accountability Act, House Democrats have worked round-the-clock to find ways to fund our troops without writing a blank check for the Bush administration. On Thursday they passed HR 2206, the revised Iraq Accountability Act, by a vote of 221-205.
    The revised Iraq Accountability Act splits the original bill into two parts. While making $42.8 billion available immediately to provide our troops with the equipment and armor they need, the other $52.8 billion in requested funding would depend on Bush and the Iraqi government meeting benchmarks by July.
    From Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
    [W]e will not give the President a blank check. We will not support an open-ended commitment to a war without end.
    By July 13, Bush would have to report to Congress on progress by the Government of Iraq. The Government of Iraq will have to meet key benchmarks like agreeing to share oil revenue among all Iraqis, disarming militias, and pursuing extremists.
    Within 7 legislative days of receiving the report, both the House and the Senate would vote on whether to release the remaining defense funds. The House would also vote on whether or not the remaining funds could only be used to redeploy troops from the region.
    The revised Iraq Accountability Act also includes:
    • Prohibition on the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq
    • Prohibition on torture
    • The Murtha troop readiness provision
    • $2.25 billion to improve homeland security
    • $1.8 billion for veterans’ medical care
    Bush has already threatened to veto the measure, although he now says he is open to the idea of benchmarks. Previously he said he wanted $95 billion with no strings attached
    permanent bases are not fact yet
    they will be on the table again when congress and bush lock horns again
    but having sunk all that money into bases already
    they have become in and of themselves a powerful chip

  48. Cujo359 says:

    Noticing an odd similarity between the huge new American embassy in Baghdad and some old castles, I wrote an article about it a couple of weeks ago:
    The important point here is you don’t have to be well informed about military affairs to understand the issues here. Just thinking about how you’d feel if such a thing were happening in your own country ought to be enough.
    To misquote Joe-Bob Briggs, I’m amazed that we have to explain this stuff.

  49. Got A Watch says:

    Some further reflections:
    The drive to build these bases stems from hold-over WWII thinking during the Cold War. When it was thought a global war could break out any time, and those bases would be vital to accomplish strategic objectives, no one argued aginst the strategy or saw a down-side to it.
    In the world today, the exercise of “soft power” like China is doing now would seem to generate more postive outcomes for everyone involved, and without the long list of negatives associated with waging foreign wars. Sun Tzu would be happy with China’s strategic course now, I think.
    The building of 1,000 overseas bases and maintenace costs on the American forces spread around the earth assume a strong domestic economy to support the Legions abroad, and that is simply no longer the case. The money to wage this foreign war has been printed out of thin air, and the past-due accounts must be settled.
    Correction of the US budget and trade deficits and rampant money printing mean expenses will have to be heavily cut somewhere. Though the military-industrial complex will resist to the last lobbying consultant, economic reality will trump naked profiteering at some point. Though the “elites” will try to prolong the Age of the Golden Pig as long as they can.
    The bond markets may be saying that the inflection point is at hand now, with the recent reversal of the past 27-year bull market in bonds. Foreign Central banks have stopped buying American government securities en masse, and if that continues, the die is cast.
    What I am saying is that when the financial/economic limits of Empire are reached, a re-structuring must occur. Spending more on defense than all other nations combined has done little it seems to actually ensure much meaningful security on the ground. I would have to argue that America is far more insecure today in all ways than it was in Aug, 2001.
    The PNAC planned “American Century” looks likely to founder on economic fundamentals, and barely before it has begun.
    The ultimate loser in all this will be the average citizens of America who will have to pay for the “elites” folly they never asked for, are mostly unaware of, and probably would not have approved if ever they were asked.

  50. Alex says:

    Does anyone take this proposal at all seriously? Seems some do. As far as I’m aware, these bases – Balad for example – already exist. But they cannot realistically do so without the rest of the army.

  51. MarcLord says:

    Thank you for your very insightful comment. Amongst all your other well-expressed points, your comment “it’s been about ensuring that western firms make the profits of development of Iraq’s oil sector” is an important distinction. The immediate corporate enthusiasm for occupying Iraq was not so much about controlling the oil, but about profiting from it.
    Still, I’d go even further in your “Make Everybody Happy” framework. I’d say that like Hitler saw the Jews and Slavs as millenial threats, so Bush and Cheney see the Muslims and Asians, and they think controlling the maximum amount of oil is a key to controlling their ascendancy. I would speculate they elucidated that strategic overlay many times. Just not to us.
    Foreground and background are the two basic elements which define whether the Really Big Picture is defined as a landscape or an action study. In Iraq’s case, the first element is religion. The second is drama. PNAC fiat dreams, oil, the democrat’s burden, evangelists, racism, likudniks, they all fit under one or both of these categories, and the Bushies co-opted all their agendas with a sincerely, if sometimes only privately, articulated solution. They also painted a wide tableau of full-blown conflict, with slaughter in close-up and hinted at in depth.
    Consider religion: Dubya is a theocrat. It’s not an act. He wants to bring the Millenium to pass and fulfill the words of the Bible. Irrational as that may be, it’s the crowning motivation of building fortresses on top of Babylon. He wants to bring Ishmael back into the Tribe, and all the tribes to Jesus.
    Consider drama: the East has been ascending for 100+ years, and the West has been fighting to forestall it. Around 1922, Oswald Spengler warned friends (when contemplating Hitler) that attacking the East again would be a ruinous idea. We are not Germans yearning for a new national identity on par with those of their White-West neighbors, but like them, there is no emotionally fulfilling alternative but to attack eastwards. The implications of letting the East in as the equals they are on track to become is, for the significant slice of the West which subscribes to The Clash of Civilizations theory, simply too much to accept.
    Beyond that CoC hard core, Bush-Cheney understood and richly satisfied the basic criteria for generating broad-based war support: amplifying fear and appealing to greed. And neither takes much. How will their hard core supporters react to hearing Muhammad is about to become the most common male name to babies born in London? (Ummm…by supporting more war?) While imperialism can’t easily control such ironic dilemmas, it can try to, and it usually does. And pursuing dominions is much more fun than attending international committees, federations, standards bodies and adhering to climate treaties.

  52. Sid3 says:

    To “Just an Ex Grunt”:
    Your insights are needed. Besides, I am just a civilian sitting on the back row.
    To Confused Ponderer:
    I dunno’ re: passcodes. But have you ever seen Hal Lindsey’s show on TBN? He poses as an ersatz intel analyst and the television set reflects the same. I dunno’ why some real intel analysts (which I am not) haven’t called him to the carpet.
    At John Hagee’s website, he use to have posted photo’s with him standing along with many in the Bush administration. After seeing that I decided that odds had increased that Hagee et al. may have started serving as court theologians.
    The rapturist ideology looks like an escape fantasy to me. But it’s enormously popular at least in my neck of the woods.

  53. confusedponderer says:

    I’m suffering from a persistent case of gloom, and my comment that the assumption willing acceptance of US presence is delusional reflected that. It was a rash comment.
    In any case, a US presence requires a degree of consent by the local hosts, be it only for the moment, or to ensure a later withdrawal with minimum losses. Just how much consent is required is another question.
    I agree that ‘permanent bases’ in Iraq are a foolhardy idea, that only underlines US imperial ambition toward Iraq. The calm over the announcement the US intend to stay for 50+ years is remarkable. Is the idea of a permanent US presence in Iraq part of the ‘bi-partisan consensus’?
    I today read this article and just like the soldiers in the article and the author I’m ambivalent about it. In principle local support sounds good. But then, how ‘ex-‘ are these ex-insurgents exactly?
    Insofar, out of genuine curiosity, as an afterthought, what does it take to win over locals for support? After all, in Vietnam the US succeeded doing that, despite a fundamental difference in culture to the locals. Were they simply offered a better deal by the US? I have my doubts the US went to the Nung Chinese and Montagnards in Vietnam with a message of ‘liberty’, ‘women rights’ and ‘free elections’. I presume the argument went along some more palpable lines.
    Maybe the best allies the US can possibly find in Iraq are the Sunni, because they as the ‘losers’ of US FUBARing of Iraq have the most to gain from US support. They would also offer the best ally against Al Quaeda, thanks to their superior insight into the local Sunni communities, AQ’s likely hinding place.
    That counts for the Bedouins, even though I think that empowering the rural sheiks, naturally at the expense of the city sheiks, will stir up things in the future. Making ‘the establishment’ ‘increasingly irrelevant’ in that part of the world, doesn’t go without a response I guess.
    And then there are the Baathists. If the Bushies ever get to the point they will find men of expertise and competence there. You don’t run an army, secret service and government on mindless obedience and thuggery alone. There is a significant pool of expertise and talent that has thus far been intentionally ignored. But then, how loyal will they be after all the US has done to them, or allowed to be done to them in the past years? But then, they are fighting for their political survival. They need help against the majority Shia and the Kurds in the north.
    The Kurds are an American darling, but I presume that impression is a highly idealised version of reality. They cooperate with the US because they profit immensely, as the US are – de-facto and all talk of a unified Iraq withstanding – furthering Kurdish ambition towards independence. That could be utilised to exercise leverage on them – with the caveat that considering what the Kurds already have, there isn’t much more the US could give them except more arms, a lot of money and an official recognition as a souvereign state. The Kurdish ambition toward Kirkuk will be a significant challenge for the US.
    The Shia cooperate with the US because they profit immensely from them, and they and their interests are ignored at the own peril. And they have certainly not forgotten the US abandonment when they rose up against Saddam. The caveat for the Kurds applies for the Shia as well. So far they’re the big winner. The biggest offer the US could make to them would probably be the US leaving. That would be quite an incentive.
    The point is that Iraqi parties cooperate with the US because they have to, as the US are indeed now, the hardest hitting tribe in Iraq, and part of the game.
    I wonder, if the Iraqis realise that the US can be beat, will they go for it and settle their own disputes later? Or are they so caught in inner strife that they are unable to cooperate to the degree neccessary to ensure success?

  54. ISL says:

    As a longtime reader/1st time poster, Thank you colonel for moderating one of the more interesting and useful debates on the ME and US foreign policy.
    Although there initially were many reasons driving US foreign policy in the ME, IMHO, I believe that even as distanced from reality as is the white house, they recognize that they probably do not get to set foreign policy for the next four years after 2008. Thus, since their policy has all along been stay the course, one can interpret most current efforts at locking in the next administration to current Iraq policy. Permanent bases fall into this category. So does the surge. So does Turkish incursions to N. Iraq – I haven’t heard any really strong threats from the US, such as removing MFN trade status, even, just meaningless noise from Condi. Increased instability in Iraq means that “cutting and running” is politically even more troublesome because of the potential to spill over borders, etc.
    And if the next administration isn’t able to extricate in two years when the next election cycle begins – a drawdown (troop rotation?) is not extrication as a worsening situation perhaps because the interests of most other groups that the US bleeds in the desert – troops levels can easily grow.
    Unfortunately, based on the current democratic contenders, the WH has been remarkably successful in regards to ensuring continuity in policy after 2008.
    Of course can always hope for an electoral surprise.
    Re: Oil, clearly if there was only sand in Iraq, the war would not have happened. However, currently, oil is a market commodity and whoever has it needs to sell it to earn cash – and if we can’t outbid Asia, too bad on us.

  55. Martin K says:

    Lieberman seems to be going crazy. According to Guardian he favours war with Iran if they dont stop killing americans. Quote:“They can’t believe that they have immunity for training and equipping people to come in and kill Americans,” he said. “We cannot let them get away with it. If we do, they’ll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home.”
    Right. What in the world is wrong with your politicos? Do they see the world as a kennelmaster views his kennel of bitches? Does he seriously believe that Iran will become *less* agressive once you nuke Tehran? Or that Iran is plotting together with its enemy, Al Quaeda, who Ahmadinejad has woved to destroy? What planet are they living on?

  56. VietnamVet says:

    Did you read Thomas Rick’s front page Washington Post article Military Envisions Longer Stay in Iraq? It is a mass of contradictions that ignores history. Iraqis will stop resisting a foreign Christian occupation. American troops can draw down to a token force.
    The Pentagon is lying to itself, the press and to America. US troop levels in Iraq are always increasing. Big Oil cannot give up all that petroleum in the ground. The Military Industrial Complex needs to keep the money flowing. The Israeli lobby is pushing to keep the forward bases occupied in Iraq. All without the understanding or agreement by the American people. A never ending war that can only end in catastrophe.

  57. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Were they simply offered a better deal by the US? I have my doubts the US went to the Nung Chinese and Montagnards in Vietnam with a message of ‘liberty’, ‘women rights’ and ‘free elections’. I presume the argument went along some more palpable lines.” I thought you understood the motivations of warriors better.
    The two Indochina wars were all encompassing events that really were “generational” in length. Everyone there was a participant. you had to choose a side . The non-Vietnamese minoroties hated the Vietnamese and with good reason. I have seen women vietnamese nurses pull IVtubes out of Montagnards when the americans were not looking. The VN did not do that because of “foreign” interference. All these peoples really hated each other, and that had little to do with either the French or the Ameicans. The same is largely true in Iraq. There, we released the locals from government coercion into co-existence.
    The montagnards I worked with had worked with the French and ALL, ALL would have left with us if we had taken them.
    The Vietnamese who sided with us did not want to be subjected to the combination of nationalism and socialism that was the communist revolution. There were a lot of people like that. Unfortunately, there were not enough of them willing to fight to stay out of the grasp of Uncle Ho.
    Actually, to insinuate that all the Vietnamese and others who fought against the communists must have been bribed is a an unworthy thing to say. pl

  58. jang says:

    Halliburtan builds an American base in a location that damages the 2,500 yr old brick pavement to Babylon’s Ishtar Gate and some of the Gate itself. [Juan Cole & Guardian]
    I wonder if that is true? Surely a Freudian choice to run over Babylon before creating the Baghdad USA Embassy.
    Deep blue glaze on the ancient tiles of the Ishtar Gate can be seen in
    “Babylon Mystery: Nebuchadnezzar” [documentary, QuickSilverScreen]

  59. boxcar mike says:

    “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the current unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial US force presence in the region transcends the issue of Saddam Hussein.” – PNAC “rebuilding America’s defenses” 2000
    There is no need to speculate, the arrogant blowhards came right out and said it.
    We don’t hear about this stuff much. The press is completely dysfunctional, if its function is presumed to be informing the electorate. And I think those in charge like it that way. If the press is functional, it is sickening to think what its function might be.

  60. confusedponderer says:

    Mr. Lang,
    I see your point and feel a little sheepish. I certainly didn’t mean to insinuate you or the US in general needed to bribe everyone to fight alongside them in Vietnam, or Iraq. That’s as bad as that joke with the ugly boy wearing a steak on a cord around his neck so that at least the dog will play with him. That is not my view of America or her soldiers, active or retired. And certainly I don’t see the local US allies, to stay in metaphor, as dogs.
    I was thinking and writing more in terms of what the US could offer the political entities representing the different groups of locals for their cooperation or as a compromise. As I see it, if there is no sudden reversal of Sunni attitude toward the US, the only group atm willing to accept a US base would be the Kurds.
    That said, on ground level the problems are much more basic. I didn’t know much more about the ethnic background of the US allies in the CIDG formations than the name of the two tribes. So the argument was that the US together with the locals would fight against the common enemy for safety from reprisal and their traditional ways.
    Now that is in my view a ‘palpable’ argument, in that it touches primary needs (as in ‘etwas handfestes’). I don’t really know how to better phrase it. And delivered on that is convincing. Loyalty is a thing on a personal level that will be earned. To clarify myself here, I do not believe that man is only motivated by money, egoism or material benefits. Not at all.
    PS: I guess the chaos in Iraq is to a large extent manufactured exactly to force the Iraqis to make a choice, pick a group or join a group making such such ‘palpable’ promises. And it seems that to an extent the respective groups are able to deliver on that.

  61. Andy says:

    Could someone please tell me exactly what a “permanent” base is? Because to me, “permanent” means, well, forever. If “permanent” is by mid-east standards, well then that would be 10-20 years. The only base we currently have that could remotely be considered “permanent” is GITMO, and only then because we can lease it for as long as we desire. For all the talk of “permanent” bases, one wonders why we don’t yet have an agreement that remotely resembles what we have with GITMO.

  62. Just an ex grunt says:

    To Sid3:
    Thanks. But I can offer little.
    After a little digging, I
    feel I must take back my statement that these were not long in the planning.
    They had engineers scouting sites in late ’03. Indicates
    they were concieved prior to the invasion.
    Can they be stopped? I doubt it, too far along.
    In every large undertaking, even when the pyramids when under construction and the first courses were laid, someone (there’s one in every crowd) HAD to have stood up and asked “What the HELL are we doing this for!”.
    That person is always immediately clubbed to death.
    I expect that while resolutions may be adopted baning all permanent bases,
    the construction money will still flow to these projects. At this stage, Uncle Sam may not save much
    money at all by pulling the plug. I guess we could always give them to the Iraqis. It’s only money.

  63. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “I expect that while resolutions may be adopted baning all permanent bases,
    the construction money will still flow to these projects…I guess we could always give them to the Iraqis.”
    Uncle Sam was still spending money to upgrade USAF bases in the UK not too long before they were closed and given back to the Brits in the mid-1990s.
    Same as it’s always been.

  64. Sid3 says:

    “Just an ex grunt”, you write: They had engineers scouting sites in late ’03. Indicates they were concieved prior to the invasion.
    In my opinion, that’s strong evidence that further proves some in the USG lied about the reasons for our invasion. It also confirms those who argue the PNAC folks were behind the buildup to the Iraqi war.
    Plus…such evidence re: permanent bases had to be known by Chinese and Russians. Helps explain the joint Chinese-Russian military exercises, which, in my opinion,is one of the absolute worst consequences of the Iraqi occupation.

  65. Ray McGovern says:

    thanks, Col. Lang et al., for informative discussion; I learned a lot.
    did not see mention of the new “Korea” analogy; but guess its significance is pretty obvious.
    find myself agreeing with comment that we would not be in Iraq, were there no oil under that sand.
    are we all agreed on at least that much?

  66. graeme says:

    Thanks for the reply to my question Colonel. I think I phrased my comment badly. By “feasible to protect the embassy”, I really meant: feasible to have an embassy at all once troops leave, given the security situation. I certainly didn’t mean to imply I want to leave the civilians behind to be massacred.

  67. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “…They will see this as inherently anti-Islamic, a “crusade” against their religion and Islamicate culture.”
    Indeed. I am presently “in the region” at my hotel looking out over the Gulf (Persian/Arab) having spent the last several days in meetings with cabinet-level officials and private sector leaders. One minister told me referencing Iraq etc., “The situation in the region is going from bad to worse.”
    Another minister told me that “tensions in the region have added 6 or 7 dollars per barrel” to the cost of oil.
    Another minister assured me that, despite concerns on security issues, his country has “normal” economic relations with Iran. I am going to visit the Iranian souk over the weekend and watch the dhows come in.
    Meanwhile, the US media keeps Americans in an information bubble and the incompetent political leadership postures aimlessly.

Comments are closed.