Permanent U.S. bases in Iraq? Seriously?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 05:26 PM

Sometimes you read a headline on one day that seems to make no sense, only to get the explanatory headline in the next day or two.  Happened to me this week:

Headline 1, from Reuters: Iraq war bill deletes US military base prohibition

Headline 2, from the U.K.'s Telegraph: US "planning to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq for many years"

As the NY Times elaborates on the second story:

Officials say the administration has begun to look at the costs of maintaining a force of roughly 50,000 troops there for years to come, roughly the size of the American presence maintained in the Philippines and Korea for decades after those conflicts.

But no decisions have been made, and Mr. Bush has carefully sidestepped any discussion of a long-term presence, insisting that American forces will be in the country only as long as the Iraqi government wants them there.

I'd be in shock if I was still capable of that reaction after five and a half years of lies, distortions, disingenuousness, and judgment so bad it makes Hitler's invasion of Russia look like a damn good idea.

And planning to garrison 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq for the foreseeable future sure seems to me to fit the incredibly bad judgment category.

Except for the "what Bush said goes for me" parrots, and a few remaining neocons who need to get out in the sun more often, is there anyone who doesn't think that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is part of two problems?  Those problems being:

  1. Iraqis increasingly resent the U.S. presence in their country for many reasons, including basic nationalism; anger at the way Iraqi civilians have been treated; their lack of security, electricity, etc. since the U.S. invasion; a strong suspicion that our presence there is motivated far more by helping ourselves than it is by helping the Iraqis.

  2. Muslim nations around the world are convinced that we, and Christians in general, do not respect their religion, their people, or their sovereignty.

So why--why--would you adopt a policy that is quite likely to:

++Make the U.S. the world's easiest scapegoat for anything that goes wrong in Iraq or the region in general

++Render it impossible for any new Iraqi government to support us without losing the support of the Iraqi voters

++Render it virtually impossible for any future supporter of the U.S. to get elected to office in Iraq

++Render it far easier for any Muslim rabble-rouser to overthrow any moderate Arab government merely by promising to "kick sand in the face of the U.S., rather than kowtow to them" like the moderate government does.

++Render it far easier for recruiters to the Al Qaeda and similar causes to find young, impressionable Muslim men and boys willing to die to fight the Western occupying power.

If we're going to station 50,000 troops in Iraq for years to come, we might as well issue them uniforms that say "scapegoat" on the front and have a huge bullseye on the back.  

My best case scenario on this, which is consistent with the vague statements about "beginning to look at" the idea, attributed to anonymous "officials," is that this is the proverbial trial balloon.  Float the idea and see who goes apoplectic, both in the U.S. and in the Middle East.

If I'm right, it's the duty of all sane people to go apoplectic, as loudly as possible, both to the mainstream media and to your elected officials.