The Next Iraqi Occupation
The concrete goes on forever, 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.
At a third hub down south, Tallil, they’re planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.
Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.
"I think we’ll be here forever," the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., told a visitor to his base.
We learned this week that in January 2003, George W. Bush was set on preemptive war. WMDs didn’t have anything to do with it.
Yet in early March 2003, Bush went on national TV and said it was up to Saddam as to whether there would be war.
We know President Bush said, "We do not torture." Yet, we have the pictures, the horror stories and the ill will to prove that we have indeed been involved in torture.
We heard Bush say, "I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Then we saw the videotape.
We heard Bush on April 20, 2004 say that "a wiretap requires a court order." Yet we know our president has been illegally wiretapping American citizens.
We learned this week, through Murray Waas, that President Bush knew all along that there was no uranium from Niger. But that didn’t stop our president from using information he knew to be false in his state of the union speech.
Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush’s 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address — that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon — might not be true, according to government records and interviews. Insulating Bush, by Murray Waas
On Iraq, Bush has said time and again that when the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. But then, just recently, our president started talking about the next president taking over where he left off, with withdrawal coming after 2009.
Now, the press is slowly starting to focus on what’s been building for months and months. A serious, U.S. foot print in the Iraqi desert meant to take over where our carriers in the Persian Gulf leave off. Huge bases are being constructed, as large as 19 square miles.
"It’s a stupid idea and clearly politically unacceptable," Zinni, a former Central Command chief, said in a Washington interview. "It would damage our image in the region, where people would decide that this" — seizing bases — "was our original intent."
We know that redeployment has become the word of 2006, which started with the Democrats, Jack Murtha and continuing through this week with the "Real Security" plan, which commits to rebuilding our military, doubling Special Forces, securing loose nukes, committing to American security, which includes getting a 21st energy plan kicked into high gear.
Does anyone really know what’s going on in Iraq right now? And even if the president told us, could we believe him?
posted by Taylor Marsh