Sunday, April 23, 2006

If they build it, we will stay

For all his talk about standing down when the Iraqis stand up and the hints and promises of troop drawdowns by the end of the year, I think we now know what Bush meant when he said Iraq was going to be the next administration's problem. Newsweek covers an underreported story, namely the building of permanent military bases in Iraq.
If you want an image of what America's long-term plans for Iraq look like, it's right here at Balad. Tucked away in a rural no man's land 43 miles north of Baghdad, this 15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots is one of four "superbases" where the Pentagon plans to consolidate U.S. forces, taking them gradually from the front lines of the Iraq war. (Two other bases are slated for the British and Iraqi military.) The shift is part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan to draw down U.S. ground forces in Iraq significantly by the end of 2006. Pentagon planners hope that this partial withdrawal will, in turn, help take the edge off rising opposition to the war at home—long enough to secure Iraq's nascent democracy.
So in other words, they'll send a few thousand troops home to placate the public and hide the rest on the superbases.
But the vast base being built up at Balad is also hard evidence that, despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout, the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time—at least a decade or so, according to military strategists.
Add to that fact that "the Bush administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion for new military construction in Iraq" and a picture of permanent occupancy emerges. The Iraqis in charge of security want us to stay there. Why wouldn't they? We're doing the heavy lifting. And the construction of an American embassy the size of Vatican City complete with its own power and water plants, would certainly suggest we're going to accept the invitation and are making ourselves at home for the long haul.

This isn't an air war but the Balad base has been flying a large number of unmanned drones. These things really creep me out.
The American airman who is piloting these drones, however, is not in Iraq. He is 7,000 miles away, in Las Vegas. ... Morgan, who still marvels at the idea, says: "Some guy in Vegas gets to knock off at 7, go out to the casino or lay out by the pool, and he's just flown a combat mission in Iraq." And the new Predators to be deployed at Balad over the next couple of years are going to be bigger and better, carrying more Hellfires, and some larger JDAM bombs as well. Huge new ramps and runway aprons are also under construction. ...
War as a video game? Killing real humans beings becomes as impersonal as a round of Space Invaders at the bar? It makes my blood run cold.

The manned fighting planes in Iraq are being used mostly for surveillance but also as a means of intimidation.
F-16 squadron commander Pete (Guns) Gersten, "When I show up at a firefight, it stops," he says. "We're the big brother."
It sounds trite to say it, but how much more Orwellian can you get?
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Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Yeah, that 'Vatican Green Zone' stuff is amazing, isn't it? Gosh, who are they going to get to paint the ceiling? It's truly amazing to me that the media buys that shit about us leaving. We won't leave until the oil runs out. Can't wait to hear the excitement when Rummy announces:

"We're going to bring four G.I.'s home next month, and twice that the following month. The 'drawdown' has begun!

12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The embassy is mindboggling especially considering the people have no water or power. How nice they'll be able to see the lights of their overlords from the other side of the wall.

Do you think Georgie will name it after himself? I hear they're naming an almost equally lavish new HQ in Italy after those child abusers the Semblers.

11:54:00 AM  

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