News Release

U.S. Military Bases: Iraq and Beyond

DAHR JAMAIL
Jamail, who has spent extensive time in war-torn Iraq, is author of the recent article “Iraq: Permanent U.S. Colony.” He said today: “Bush refuses to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq because he doesn’t intend to withdraw. He doesn’t intend to because he’s following a larger plan for the U.S. in the Middle East. Less than two weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, U.S. military officials announced the intention to maintain at least four large bases in Iraq that could be used in the future. These are located near Baghdad International Airport, Tallil (near Nasiriyah, in the south), one in the Kurdish north at either Irbil or Qayyarah (they are only 80 kilometers apart), and one in western al-Anbar province at Al-Asad.” Jamail describes such bases more as cities; for example Camp Anaconda near Balad, says Jamail, “occupies 15 square miles of Iraq; the base boasts two swimming pools, a gym, mini golf course and first-run movie theater. Of the 20,000 soldiers who live at the Balad Air Base, less than 1,000 ever leave the base.”
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ZOLTAN GROSSMAN
Grossman, a geographer and faculty member at Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.), wrote the article “New U.S. Military Bases: Side Effects Or Causes Of War?” He said: “It used to be that military bases were built to wage wars, but increasingly it seems that wars are being waged to build bases. After every U.S. military intervention since 1990 … the Pentagon has left behind clusters of new bases in areas where it never before had a foothold. The new string of bases stretch from Kosovo and adjacent Balkan states, to Iraq and other Persian Gulf states, into Afghanistan and other Central Asian states. Together, they appear to form a new U.S. sphere of influence in the strategic ‘middle ground’ between the European Union and East Asia, and may well be intended to counteract the emergence of these global economic competitors. The Pentagon is using every crisis as a convenient opportunity to establish a permanent military presence in the strategic belt from Poland to Pakistan. The only two obstacles left to a geographically contiguous U.S. sphere of influence are Iran and Syria. This over-extension of U.S. military power risks increasing regional resentments (seen in the ‘Iraq for Iraqis’ demonstrations), 9/11-type ‘blowback’ attacks, and a reliance on military power instead of respectful economic relationships.

“Even if this administration pulls combat troops out of Iraq in the future, it intends to keep at least four large permanent military bases, and access or ‘basing rights’ to many smaller bases, to keep control over oil supplies and shipments, support counterinsurgency operations, and to use Iraq as a launching pad against Iran or Syria. The only way that Washington can avoid this impression is to explicitly renounce any future permanent military bases in Iraq.”
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JOSEPH GERSON
Editor of the book The Sun Never Sets, a book about U.S. military bases worldwide, Gerson is director of the Peace and Economic Security Program at the American Friends Service Committee. He said today: “As President Bush tells us that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for at least the next two and a half years, one of his goals is to consolidate the U.S. military presence in the oil-rich Middle East for the long term. With most U.S. troops and bases having been forced out of Saudi Arabia in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration sees Iraq as an unsinkable aircraft carrier for its troops and bases for decades to come.

“President Bush’s praise for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld includes the global ‘reconfiguration’ of U.S. military bases, which reflects Washington’s strategic priorities: China and oil. The U.S. continues its military encirclement of China with its redeployment of forces within South Korea and Japan, the transformation of Guam into a major U.S. military hub, the reintroduction of U.S. forces to the Philippines … and the new U.S. bases in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia. The U.S. bases in Iraq and Central Asia can be used to implement the threatened military attacks against Iran. There is deep resentment of the U.S. military presence in many countries, owing to the crimes and other dislocations they bring. Not unlike the authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, they resent the ‘abuses and usurpations’ that inevitably accompany foreign military forces.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167