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May 10, 2007

Gates: We Will Have Troops In Iraq Forever

The Bush administration has repeatedly refused to pledge America won't establish permanent military bases in Iraq. There's a good reason for that: we don't ever plan to leave.

Robert Gates essentially came out and said this at a news conference yesterday, comparing our policy in Iraq to that of containment during the Cold War. This gives us a good idea of the time frame the Bush administration is thinking of: the Cold War lasted forty-five years. Moreover, fifteen years after it ended, we still have troops in Germany and Japan. This is equivalent to American troops still being stationed in Iraq (with no end in sight) in 2065.

Here's Gates:

Q This morning you talked about achieving a bipartisan agreement about troop levels in Iraq...

SEC. GATES: My formative experience in Washington was an unwritten bipartisan consensus through nine successive presidencies on how to deal with the Soviet Union through a policy of containment...on that fundamental strategy there was broad bipartisan agreement. There was never anything written down about it, and I don't think that there needs to -- well, I'm not talking about some kind of summit where everybody sits down and signs up and says this is the strategy for Iraq going forward, but I think rather a broad, bipartisan agreement that on two points:

First of all, that it's important to defend this country on the extremists' 10-yard line and not on our 10-yard line. That has big implications in terms of how our forces are deployed, the kind of forces we buy, the kinds of relationships we have internationally because it means we're over there trying to deal with the problem, not over here.

The other part of it is that in a country that's been through the problems that Iraq has had, the fact that there is probably -- assuming we have some kind of a long-term strategic agreement or security agreement with the Iraqi government that acknowledges their sovereignty and so on but still provides the assistance of some level of U.S. troops in Iraq for a protracted period of time, whether that's 25,000 troops or what that number is -- I have no idea. In terms of intelligence help and logistics, air support, who knows what it might be -- it would have to be worked out with the Iraqis. But in terms of providing a stabilizing presence, particularly given the behavior and attitudes of Iran on the eastern border, the Syrians on the northern and western borders and the overall instability in the region, my view is -- my personal view is this would be a stabilizing -- have a stabilizing effect, and I think it's something that we need to talk about. Obviously, it's a matter of where the Iraqi government has a big say as well.

Or as the Project for a New American Century put it in September, 2000:

Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Saddam provided the pretext for our being there. But we're planning to stay long, long after he's gone.

Posted at May 10, 2007 06:34 PM | TrackBack

Only for as long as WE KEEP PAYING for them to be there, they WILL be there, FELLOW TAXPAYERS. When WE stop , they leave.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 10, 2007 07:41 PM

Not everyplace that "needs" an American military base gets to keep one - for example, Da Nang is not so big a center of operations as it once was. Not every decision is made inside the Beltway, or inside the Green Zone.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at May 10, 2007 08:00 PM

I could not agree more that we will not be leaving Iraq anytime in the near future. From my readings around the internet I see that we have 14 “enduring military bases” with the eventual plan of consolidating them into 4 major mega bases, 4 permanent mega bases, and the cost of these bases has been in the multi-billions so it is rather hard to imagine that after pumping that much money into permanent bases that the federal government would then turn around and desert them.

Though Gates is a demented and paranoid human being I believe he is speaking the truth when he refers to a bi-partisan consensus among nine presidents concerning containment which has a direct bearing on the next election. An awful lot of people I have spoken with believe that with a new president there will be a change in direction concerning Iraq but I do not believe that this is so. I also think most of what Gates says about why we are not leaving Iraq is an outright lie.

The propaganda provided by the New American Century is really a statement of that bi-partisan consensus that America has protracted enemies which we need to control and our “responsibility” to project our power throughout the world which is a view shared by republican and democrat leadership alike.

It has been obvious where the republicans are concerned when it comes to Iraq but a bit less obvious on the democrat side. However most of the criticism coming from the democrat quarter has been about tactics and mismanagement rather than a questioning of America’s right to pursue imperialism. Hillary Clinton aids recently said this quoted from the New York Times:

“Later, however, her aides said Mrs. Clinton was not seeking a total withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or a quick pullout that could put troops at risk. They said she had called for a phased pullout that would leave a reduced American force to pursue terrorist cells in Iraq, support the Kurds and conduct other missions — a position she continued to support, her aides said.”

This is basically the same thing we are hearing from Gates and the New American Century.

Posted by: rob payne at May 10, 2007 09:03 PM

Hillary may well want to be Caesar too. Perhaps we should examine OUR own personal ambitions as a nation. Perhaps we as a people desire this imperialism as much as our leadership. Could be we (as a people) are AFRAID to lose any ground even if we wrongly perceive that we "own it".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 10, 2007 09:56 PM

Good point mistah. The Iraqis may make the cost of staying, in blood and treasure, too high. Sure hope so. We have no fucking right to be there, period.

Posted by: ran at May 10, 2007 10:03 PM

Are we stabilizing yet?

Posted by: Maud at May 11, 2007 01:04 AM

How much oil is in Iraq? How long will it take to pump it out? How close is Iraq to Iran? Repeat across Central Asia.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at May 11, 2007 09:15 AM

Of course, the difference is that the Germans and Japanese stopped shooting and bombing Americans a long time ago. I think a different parallel is more appropriate. From wikipedia:

"U.S. colonial rule of the Philippines began in December 1899, with very limited local rule permitted beginning in 1905. Partial autonomy (commonwealth status) was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1945. But what was envisioned as a 10-year transition period from a commonwealth to a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II. Full independence was only granted to the Philippines in July 1946."

When the natives are restless, "forever" means maybe 47 years, tops. We do seem to be a bit ahead of schedule, so maybe Iraq will only last as long as the U.S. intervention in Nicaragua -- a mere 24 years -- and we'll have everybody home by 2027.

Either way, I wonder how long those magnetic "support the troops" ribbons for your car are designed to last?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at May 11, 2007 11:51 AM

I knew it...what we are dealing with here is a whole bunch of "experts" whose training has long been invalidated. Remember Dr Rice started off as a specialist on the Soviet Union. You don't fight today's battles with yesterday's weapons. I no longer know whether it's malice or incompetence we're facing here, but I suggest any sufficient amount of the latter is indistinguishable from the former.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 11, 2007 03:48 PM

Sam, you might be right but I hope not. There may be nonviolent or at least less violent alternative pathways out from under the thumb of the military industrial complex. Consciousness raising and political organizing are having some success in other countries, and there's still a chance it might happen here too. May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.

SteveB, although you are correct to conclude that "mistah charley" is only a screen name, in the meat world I am a real he with a real Ph.D.
Online I refer to my spouse as missus charley, m.d. She is an actual physician, although a foreign medical graduate not licensed to practice in the U.S. Since my in-laws are overseas, I have a personal perspective that helps me realize that what foreigners do has an impact too.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at May 13, 2007 01:05 PM