Here to stay

Some fascinating glimpses across the last several days into the heart of the U.S. war effort in Iraq: the gigantic, permanent bases from which we maintain our precarious hold on the cities. “Permanent” is, of course, a loaded word. They’ve been called that in legislation and in funding, but the Iraqis are (understandably) starting to get a little nervous about their implications.

As should everybody else. It’s funny to see the candidates debate how long we’re going to be remaining in Iraq when all the evidence points to that decision already having been made. Consider the facts, touched on by Fabius Maximus and laid bare in this expose from Tom Engelhart: there are 106 bases (of all sizes) in Iraq right now, and the largest of these, Camp Anaconda, boasts an air base so huge it’s comparable to Heathrow in volume of traffic. Supposedly those 106 bases are being consolidated into what the Pentagon has referred to as “enduring” bases. There’s a great map of the biggest ones here. God only knows if they’ll last for the entirety of McCain’s hundred years, but it certainly looks like they’re designed to. Much to the delight of the contractors hired to build them.

Which may be insane from the perspective of the U.S. budget. But it certainly fits in with the overall direction of our Iraq adventure. It doesn’t even matter if we lose the cities:  we’re not planning on leaving. Not in the age of peak oil. Not with Iran capable of filling any power vacuum we leave behind. The politicians squabble, and the public yawns, but the military understands the underlying logic, and makes its plans accordingly.

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17 Responses to “Here to stay”

  1. xxnapoleon solo Says:

    Fascinating stuff David, and clear proof that Bush and his cronies are trying to hamstring future presidents with regards to Iraq.

    Bringing democracy to the region – ha!

  2. Big Johnson Says:

    Whine, whine, WHINE! So what? It’s always a conspiracy with you people isn’t it? What about how safe your country is now? What about you being able to say all this and write what you want? Is 106 bases too much for you to enjoy the piece you have to stay involved in Iraq?

    Ever stop to think maybe they had it coming and president Bush is keeping the whole world safer since nobody else would do it? And so what if some contractors got paid to build the bases? I hope they get paid a lot more for a lot more bases. It is the only way that part of the world will ever get in line with the rest of teh world and stop fighting. Is that squabble?

    Peace through superior firepower! Enjoy it and be happy you aren’t on the other end.

  3. Al Billings Says:

    Safe? Iraq was never making us unsafe, BJ. There was no weapons of mass destruction (nor could they have done much with them to us if they had them). There were no ties to Al-Qaeda. This has been a misadventure abroad of gigantic proportions.

    The only whining is from the Right when others point this out to them. I never bought our reasons for the war. Why should I do so now?

  4. Al Billings Says:

    Or, to put it more concretely, why should be bankrupt our nation in order to continue to fight a war that we will not win and never had a plan to win?

  5. Big Johnson Says:

    Interesting idea Al. So, if the reason for going to war was found out to be wrong does that make the resulting safety of America wrong? We are fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here. Do I have to remind you what happened when we didn’t? Twice we got it. Now we take care of it on our terms. No more playing around with these people that wish us harm.

    Bankrupt the nation? We get the oil and control of the region when we win. What bankrupts the nation is the continuous sale of our jobs and goods to other nations. We should have never left the US for anything. Now look what we have. How do we get good jobs and American money to stay here when we have the nation’s largest private employer sourcing over 70% of their goods from China. They used to be proud to buy in America but can’t any more becuase the Chinas forced them to buy there.

  6. David Williams Says:

    @BJ: Iraq was a regional problem, but they certainly weren’t capable of attacking us. The whole question is whether the blood/treasure we’re expending over there is worth the return we’re getting. Is it making us safer/more secure? I think you’ve got a long way to go to prove that.

    Also, our trade with China isn’t the topic under discussion here.

  7. Al Billings Says:

    BJ, by “them” do you mean Muslims in general, terrorists (of some sort), or Iraqis. Those three aren’t the same thing (though many Iraqis are Muslims).

    The Iraqis never came over here and did anything (well, except maybe go to college and decide not to go home again). Terrorists, largely from Saudi Arabia (an *ally* of ours…), have attacked a few targets and killed a few thousand people. I have a newsflash for you, the British and many other nations have been dealing with far greater levels of terrorism for decades without having to fight multiple (losing) wars in order to do so.

    Also, you say:

    “Bankrupt the nation? We get the oil and control of the region when we win. ”

    When will that be? It’s been over five years now? We were able to beat the Nazis in less time than this. When will we be winning? What is the victory condition of “winning”? Will “winning” require us to have more than 50 permanent bases in their country? Do the Iraqis get any say in whether they sell us oil or do we simply tell them that they will, pretend national sovereignty for their new nation be damned? Will they give us a special deal since we tore their country apart and are occupying it or do we buy at market value?

    Your suggestions and reasons don’t seem to hold much merit.

    Repeat after me: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Let’s say it together because it is true.

    Personally, I’m still waiting for us to capture Osama bin Laden and put him on trial like we did with Saddam (oh, wait, we had the Iraqis do it before they hung him). You’d think that if this was really about 9/11, we’d be hot to get that fellow. Unfortunately, we’re two busy losing wars in two nations that we’ve invaded and occupied to actually take the time to find him and bring him in.

  8. Big Johnson Says:

    Al, I can’t believe you want some more. You repeat after me. We have not been attacked since President Bush took it to them. They were going to set up in Iraq because we knew Sodom wanted to get the help from Al Qaeda. You won’t hear that form the news you watch because it’s liberal biased.

    But you know it’s true. I understand you don’t want to harm anyone. But what about your fellow citizens? Should they get killed because we didn’t control a region that was begging for a new daddy? Like England was ever going to handle it over there. We own that region now and anything that happens there now only happens when and where we say.

    And if you really don’t know who “them” is I feel sorry for you. We should turn that place into a parking lot and build bases from Egypt to Pakistan. And we should be proud to be the only defender of the world. Maybe we pay more today but we get it all in the end and then what will you say?

    I think the Islam terrorists are just looking for a fight and why should we wait for them to come here? They hate us. You and me both. So lets get them first and teach them the good peacefull word.

  9. Big Johnson Says:

    And just so the writer here knows, I liked the book a lot. The action was cool and based on the book, I think he understands what I mean by my points. You have to get the terrorists or they ruin every thing.

  10. David Williams Says:

    @BJ: I will assume that by “Sodom” you mean “Saddam.”

    I hope.

  11. NewsCat Says:

    BJ, can you answer me a quick question. Is al Queda a Sunni-based group or a Shiite. I’m just asking…

  12. Big Johnson Says:

    NewScat, I’m not sure what your point is, but they are Sunni. But once again the left gets distracted by some subculture and in dividing the argument into groups of people. They are all bad. They want to take over the world and that unites all of them against us. Just listen to Sistani and you know they want to. If they weren’t bad they wouldn’t celebrate in the streets when they run planes into our buildings and they would tell their followers to not do this anymore. But they don’t because they want to harm us and our friends.

    Why do you want to protect them? Do you think they care about you? They don’t.

    And to Mr. Williams, I mean Saddam. I hope you feel better to corect my mistake.

    And last, we have to continue to spread our bases in the region. Just look at what happened in Pakistan with the prisoners of the Taliban that escaped. If we had more bases there we would control that region to. But instead we get jerked around by a government that doesn’t want us to nuke them and does just enough to act like a friend. I bet they opened the cell doors for the Taliban and acted like they got lose! This is the fight of our life and we have to support president Bush and our troops.

  13. Al Billings Says:

    BJ, you’re missing the point of the Sunni/Shia question. Al-Qaeda is a Sunni-based group. Osama and others following a Wahabi form of Islam. Sunnis, historically, have looked down on the Shia (or is it Shiites, I forget) and the latter have felt like second-class citizens in Islam. Wahabism is a fairly fundamentalist or radical form of Sunni Islam and they, by and large, hate the Shia. Since Al-Qaeda is led by Wahabis and Iraq is largely a Shiite nation, you can see that the idea that they are working together, as a whole, is a non-starter. Now that we’ve smashed their country into little bits, the Sunni minority in Iraq seems to be working with anyone who will give them help. We caused that.

    You seem unaware that Saddam Hussein was hated by Osama bin Laden because he was a secular leader of a secular state. As long as he was in charge, Al-Qaeda was not going to be working with Iraq. We took care of that, didn’t we?

    (I know you don’t care about internal differences in Islam but it sounds ignorant not to bother to know your self-proclaimed enemies, doesn’t it? These aren’t “subcultures” in a popular since unless “subcultures” last more than 1,000 years…)

    If I or my fellow citizens are at “war” with anyone, it is terrorists. It isn’t Arabs or Persians (you know the Iranians aren’t Arabs, right?). It isn’t Islam. Iraqis weren’t going to come to America (or Europe, for that matter) to cause problems.They didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and, frankly, they weren’t terrorists. They were led by a dictator that we helped put into place during the cold war but that’s about it.

    The fact that you make the typical right wing confusion of Islam, in general, and terrorists and can’t even tell the teams apart in the Islamic world makes you seem like a bit of an ignorant troll here. I understand that nuanced debate is outside the ken of most Americans (and I am an American, by the way) but let’s at least try.

    We can’t win a war against Islam if we’re so ignorant as to start one. They outnumber us at least thee to one, to start with, and it isn’t a just war in the end anyway. We’d be better off going after the individuals or organizations that actually attacked our nation rather than simply starting wars with nations that we don’t like for made up reasons that turn out to be lies…

  14. Al Billings Says:

    Oh, and I support the troops. I have friends over there and friends that have come back. You should try asking soldiers, especially those who have spent more than one tour there, how they feel about this war.

    The best support for our troops is to not waste their lives or lifetimes fighting a pointless war that serves the political ends of a few individuals, like Bush and Cheney. There is a reason that Bush’s approval rating is one of the lowest in the entire history of the country (lower than Nixon during Watergate). No one, not even Conservatives, likes losing a war and it is pretty clear to everyone at this point that there is no victory condition for this war and that we’re wasting our economy and the lives of our soldiers.

    You’d think that after Vietnam that we would understand that you can only win a war if you figure out what “winning” means and follow a plan to get there. Occupying a country and threatening our own puppet government to sign a treaty that no sovereign nation would sign is not victory. You say that we should occupy Pakistan. I hate to break this to you but we aren’t the rulers of the world. They are a sovereign nation and they don’t have to have us or our bases there if they don’t want them. Do you think that we can force everyone to do what we want at gunpoint? Is that how victory is achieved, BJ?

  15. Big Johnson Says:

    Al I don’t like the personal attack. Especially as a patriot, I love my country and would die for it.

    As far as Iraq, Al Qaeda and Sunnis and Shites go why do you think they came so quickly to Iraq? They were already there and the Iraq government did nothing to keep the peace, so more came. And now the Iraqis (sovern nation.) need to get it together and get control of their country. We have been patient and tried to help, but they can’t even get along with themselves. We have to have bases there to get them to get in line. We need their oil (unless you want to drill in Florida and Antartica) and we need peace in the region. Israel needs us to be there. The Saudis didn’t want to help and only rip us off for $140 gallon oil, so we have to take it now. Just like any ohter resource to stay alive. Plus it wouldn’t hurt if there was some more religious aid over there. Maybe Christians could help them be more civilized.

    I know Vietnam didn’t work out. That was because the same thing you guys are doing happened then. We need to support our troops and buid a safe place for them to have bases over in the region so they can rotate duty through there instead of being in tents for years.

    We will win. We can’t leave. We need to be there. Unless you like pushing your car around the freeway.

  16. David Williams Says:

    Thanks for the stimulating comments, everybody, and I think we’re approaching the point of diminishing returns now. Going forward, I’d like to urge folks to avoid anything that strays into the realm of ad hominem attack/insinuation.

    B.J.: the Sunni-Shia split is worth further study on your part. The fault-line between the two is at the very heart of the war we’re now waging.

    Hope to see folks on future posts.


  17. Big Johnson Says:

    Just finishing what someone else started.