Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Depends what the meaning of "temporary" is 

The US military bases in Iraq are the 800 lb gorilla -- no matter how bad things get for Iraqis, no matter how violent the civil war becomes, no matter how disfunctional the government, no matter how much the war costs or how many US soldiers die, the Bush administration simply does not want to give up those bases.
LiberalOasis notes the little dance that the Iraq Study Group is doing around the military base question -- "permanent" bases bad, but "temporary" bases OK:
RECOMMENDATION 22: The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to request a temporary base or bases, then the U.S. government could consider that request as it would in the case of any other government.
In the context of a report that does not envision any sort of timetable for withdrawal, and does envision the "imbedding of substantially more U.S. military personnel in all Iraqi Army battalions and brigades, as well as within Iraqi companies," for "some time," "temporary" can easily be perceived by the Iraqi people as a cloak for "permanent." . . . back in March, AP described what the Americans are doing:
The concrete goes on forever [at Balid air base], vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that's now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters, a "heli-park" as good as any back in the States.
At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq's western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads.
And this pool at the Balad air base north of Baghdad is certainly not an inflatable:

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