< HOME  Monday, March 20, 2006

Home Is Where We Park Our Tanks

and where we pour our concrete and spend our dollars, whether or not our government admits it.
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.

Who to believe? Our lying eyes, or our lying President?
We will leave Iraq, but when we do, it will be from a position of strength, not weakness.
I'll stick with my eyes. And Iraqis agree.
The Iraqi people suspect the same. Strong majorities tell pollsters they'd like to see a timetable for U.S. troops to leave, but believe Washington plans to keep military bases in their country.

The question of America's future in Iraq looms larger as the U.S. military enters the fourth year of its war here, waged first to oust President Saddam Hussein, and now to crush an Iraqi insurgency.
Perpetual war for perpetual peace. But, not just yet. Neither the Iraqi nor the American public is primed for the US to maintain a permanent presence in Iraq.
[Iraq's] interim prime minister [said] he opposes permanent foreign bases . . . Such bases would be a "stupid" provocation, says Gen. Anthony Zinni. . .
Every good marketing strategy begins by laying the groundwork (literally) for the final sale.
[I]n explosive situations like Iraq's, [events] can turn "no" into "maybe" and even "yes."

The Shiite Muslims, ascendant in Baghdad, might decide they need long-term U.S. protection against insurgent Sunni Muslims. Washington might take the political risks to gain a strategic edge - in its confrontation with next-door Iran, for example.
So, they lay out the products that they're about to manufacture, but refrain from making a sales pitch prematurely.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq [and other U.S. officials] disavow any desire for permanent bases.
In the end, consumers must WANT to buy the product. Can't be too pushy.
[L]ong-term access, as at other U.S. bases abroad, is different from "permanent," and the official U.S. position is carefully worded.

[A] Pentagon spokesman [said] it would be "inappropriate" to discuss future basing until a new Iraqi government is in place . . .

[When] asked about "permanent duty stations" by a Marine [in December, Rumsfeld said] that it was "an interesting question" [that] would have to be raised by the incoming Baghdad government, if "they have an interest in our assisting them for some period over time."
In the meantime, the facts are being built on the ground.
[W]hat is heard is the pouring of concrete.

In 2005-06, Washington has authorized or proposed almost $1 billion for U.S. military construction in Iraq . . .

The [budget] would provide $7.4 million to extend the no-man's-land and build new security fencing around the base, [which] is so large that many [take] the Yellow or Blue bus routes to get around [it].
When you build a fence around no-man's-land, the message is 'it's some-man's-land.'
Army engineers say 31,000 truckloads of sand and gravel fed nine concrete-mixing plants on Balad, as contractors laid a $16 million ramp to park the Air Force's huge C-5 cargo planes; an $18 million ramp for workhorse C-130 transports; and the vast, $28 million main helicopter ramp, the length of 13 football fields, filled with attack, transport and reconnaissance helicopters.
Sounds permanent to me.
The chief Air Force engineer here, Lt. Col. Scott Hoover, is also overseeing two crucial projects to add to Balad's longevity: equipping the two runways with new permanent lighting, and replacing a weak 3,500-foot section of one runway.

Once that's fixed, "we're good for as long as we need to run it," Hoover said. Ten years? he was asked. "I'd say so."
But, if permanent means only ten years, the government will argue that not even permanent is permanent.
Could it host a long-term U.S. presence?

"Eventually it could," said Gorenc, commander of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. "But there's no commitment to any of the bases we operate, until somebody tells me that."
Tax payers are pouring a lot of dollars and concrete into a place that we're 'not committed to.'
A U.S. congressional study cited another, less discussed use for possible Iraq bases: to install anti-ballistic defenses in case Iran fires missiles.

American bases next door could either deter or provoke [or attack] Iran, noted Paul D. Hughes, a key planner in the early U.S. occupation of Iraq.

With long-term bases in Iraq, "We'd be inviting trouble," Hughes said.

"It's a stupid idea and clearly politically unacceptable," [Zinni said]. "It would damage our image in the region, where people would decide that this" - seizing bases - "was our original intent."

Among Iraqis, the subject is almost too sensitive to discuss.

"People don't like bases," . . . a member of the new [Iraqi] Parliament [said]. "If bases are absolutely necessary, if there's a perceived threat ... but I don't think even Iran will be a threat."
But, Washington takes a different position . . .
If long-term basing is, indeed, on the horizon, "the politics back here and the politics in the region say, 'Don't announce it,'" Adams said in Washington.

That's what's done elsewhere, as with the quiet U.S. basing of spy planes and other aircraft in the United Arab Emirates.

Army and Air Force engineers, with little notice, have worked to give U.S. commanders solid installations in Iraq, and to give policymakers options.

From the start, in 2003, the first Army engineers rolling into Balad took the long view, laying out a 10-year plan envisioning a move from tents to today's living quarters in air-conditioned trailers, to concrete-and-brick barracks by 2008.

In early 2006, no one's confirming such next steps, but a Balad "master plan," details undisclosed, is nearing completion, a possible model for al-Asad, Tallil and a fourth major base, al-Qayyarah in Iraq's north.
This has been a long time in the making. Lying US into war with Iraq was just the beginning.

If all these lies don't convince you that our government doesn't work for US, then maybe only this will.


At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Citisucks said...

It is a sick system. It is always shocking to me that the only party to voice opposition from the start was the Green Party. Even now all the mainstream politicians are still catering to the corporate terrorist MSM run brainwashing crap. Not even a single politicians got up and protest with Cindy Sheehan at the Lies of the Union.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger jayzerz said...

I haven't bought a coke or big mac for three years now (and feeling much better for it) because I didn't want to feel like I was contributing a single cent to the assault on Iraq.

The figures here are mind boggling and its an insane amount to spending just on infrastructure. While Plan A might be to dig in for the long haul, I think that the lack of any Moral Authority behind the occupation dooms it to failure. Anyone with half a brain can work that one out and you need to be a military scientist to know that the best (military) strategic option would be to withdraw.

I think that in some kind of perverse way, the logic being used by the US administartion is that deficit financing of infrastructure projects and military misadventures will keep the home economy afloat, with a token trickle down effect to keep the friendly Iraqis happy.

From a military perspective its about as useful as building sandcastles on the beach, but who cares what the military thinks these days. Today's corporatist state views the all volunteer military as employees, and its the state's job to keep them occupied with grand projects. No longer anything to do with serving to protect the homeland and constitution nonsense.

Bush is the CEO of the military and his job is dream up the grand projects. As he is more interested in his other job as a rancher, he has obviously delegated the responsibility for doing the dreaming to other departments and committees. Too bad for us that these are staffed with neo-con crazies. And they do seem to have some pretty nasty dreaming habits.

So its no wonder none of the uniforms on the ground know how long they are going be there. They are just doing their job and following orders. It's like asking the cashier at the drive thru when the burger-chain is going to open up shop in North Korea.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger AJ said...

"It's like asking the cashier at the drive thru when the burger-chain is going to open up shop in North Korea. "

And coincidentally I might add that Burger King is in the process of a new IPO this month. Isn't Pizza Hut owned by Pillsbury also?
If you play, you get to play *everywhere*.

But Jay, I get the impression you think this is something "they" just ad libed. It's not. They've been planning this for years.
I once saw a silly Bush Face on a T-shirt that said :
"Who would have believed someone so stupid looking could be him?"

and..Below had the number: 666.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Citisucks said...

The corporate terrorism is not only occuring in Iraq. It is occuring all over the world. Another reason not to drink coke is their murdering South American Union leaders (http://www.killercoke.org). Citibank has been working hard to starve innocent children all over the world by stealing money from them.

But I too figure if I can do nothing else I can boycott the corporate terrorists, which is more than any member of Congress has ever done.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

hey there guys, thanks for stopping by. It's pretty bad.

What disturbed me most as I wrote this piece was how deceitful they are about the whole thing. They're like snake oil salesmen, but a thousand times worse.

They are merchants of death shrink-wrapped in freedom and democracy.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Citisucks said...

Your blog is really cool and the people who visit it are far cooler than those at kos.

The corporate terrorists run the government and it doesn't matter what the people want. It is really a one party system run by the corporate terrorists. They are stealing from the poor (aka the former middle class) to give to their corporate terrorist friends in the form of war profiteering. Meanwhile more people will continue to die due to their war profiterring. And I am sure that on all of these projects their are plenty of corporate terrorists bankers charging interest for all of these projects and war profiterring off of the interest. Of course the corporate terrorist bankers will probably refer to it as "charity work", because they have used the MSM to brainwash people into believing that murdering people is charity.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

I have almost given up on dailykos. There are a few good people there. But, many people are in it for the entertainment value.

They exhibit a herd mentality. And that fellow "davybaby" is vile.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Citisucks said...

I would say try to recruit some more people over here. "Davybaby" is a joke. I can't believe they actually things that he helps the democratic party. Kos is a good old boy's club and so are the Democrats. I could not believe that he actually compared all women to Ann Coulter. But I suppose given the merger between the corporate terrorists and the corporate terrorist apologists one can't be to suprised.

The funniest thing about kos has got to be that they think they recruit people for the Democratic site, by running all the progressivse off of the site.

But even funnier I registered for a new account and it was accepted. But that's cool because if the corporate terrorist apologists are busy wasting their time banning people from the site, then they aren't wasting their time trying to get corporate terrorist apologists elected.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Citisucks said...

By the way I have also started a second blog called progressives against democrats. (http://progressivesagainstdemocrats.blogspot.com/)

Dare me to post a link on daily kos to that one with my new account! Lol! Wonder how fast the good old boy's club will ban me for that!


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