Monday, April 03, 2006

US bases in Iraq: a costly legacy

This is from The Christian Science Monitor:

Some military analysts wonder if 20 or so years from now the US will still have costly "enduring" bases in Iraq. ("Permanent" is a term the Pentagon generally avoids in referring to the hundreds of bases it has around the globe.)

So far, though, it seems clear that the Pentagon would prefer to keep its bases in Iraq. It has already spent $1 billion or more on them, outfitting some with underground bunkers and other characteristics of long-term bases. The $67.6 billion emergency bill to cover Iraq and Afghanistan military costs includes $348 million for further base construction.

In any case, some US bases are huge. Camp Anaconda, near Balad (north of Baghdad), occupies 15 square miles, boasts two swimming pools, a gym, a miniature-golf course, and a first-run movie theater, says Mr. Jamail. Of the airbase's 20,000 occupants, fewer than 1,000 ever leave it and thereby take extra risk of attack.

Now I'm not going to get into a discussion as to whether or not we should be building permanent bases in Iraq. At this point, the Bush administration is happily building these bases for the permanent stationing of American troops, thus controlling Iraq's oil reserves and allowing the projection of American power throughout the Middle East. This is what the neocons want to accomplish with their PNAC Doctrine. What amazes me about the Monitor's article is the size of these bases. Camp Anaconda has two swimming pools, a gym, a golf course, a movie theater--we're talking the equivalent of an American city placed right in the middle of the Iraqi desert. And even more, this is an enclosed city, where less than 1,000 of its inhabitants even leave to intermingle with the Iraqi population since there is such a great risk of terrorist attacks against Americans residing in Iraq.

How much do you want to bet that the rest of the permanent American bases will also be constructed as self-enclosed cities?

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