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December 19, 2006


Jay C

"At several points in the report, he says that the US "should not seek long-term military facilities in Iraq, unless strongly implored by a wide spectrum of the Iraqi leadership to do so." Since that isn't going to happen, the US should conduct future strategic planning on the assumption that it will not be based in Iraq."

Just out of curiosity, AA: what makes you so sure that some sort of "permanent" US presence in Iraq "isn't going to happen". It has been obvious that the Bush Administration has equivocated (more than on any other Iraq-related issue) on the future presence/basing of US military forces in Iraq - that large military facilities are currently being constructed in-country isn't really "news" any more. Given President Bush's apparently obsessive determination to avoid even the hint of the idea of "defeat" in the Iraq conflict while he is in office, I see the bases issues not going away any time soon. And even post-Bush (a day which can't come too soon!) - it's hard to imagine a "total-pullout" policy being implemented wrt Iraq: even in Vietnam, we retained numerous bases after the withdrawal of major combat force (and a lot of good they did!)


No, sorry if that wasn't clear: I meant that Terrill said that the US should keep bases in Iraq only if there were widespread demand for it from Iraqis, and (according to him, correctly in my opinion) *that* isn't going to happen.

John M

Wouldn't the Kurds very much welcome a US base ?

Zelnick seems to think so.

"The Kurds, of course, have an active plan to achieve first autonomy and then independence. They do not, however, have a plan to dominate Iraq or to walk boldly in the region. They have an enormous physical infrastructure to rebuild and oil profits to reap. As regards the latter, they have already begun to find more oil and bring it to market. They believe a U.S. base would provide the perfect security umbrella for their needs. It may not yet be the time to embrace the idea, but it would be gratuitous to reject it. The name of the game is now flexibility, keeping viable options alive in a situation that is otherwise highly damaging. Should a gust of reason now prevail in the conflict, the U.S. will have done much to bring it about and should retain its position in the area. And if the country should split apart, a relationship with the Kurds beckons, not an easy one to maintain to be sure, but one which retains an important U.S. presence in a part of the world where America’s interests are indeed vital. "


And, if US goes with the Kurds, then Turkey becomes at least mildly hostile to US in the long run.... This is a huge gamble--nobody knows what to expect from the Kurds in the long run, in practically any dimension, while the Turks have been a known quantity and a good cooperative ally for a long time. Is having some military base in northern Iraq so crucial that we should forgo future cooperation and goodwill, to say the least, from a longtime ally?

Dave Schuler

I think that the Kurds' acceptance of a large U. S. base in their area has been exaggerated.

My concern is, if the U. S. withdraws from Iraq in the state that it's in now (or worse), it will encourage dissidents in other countries to emulate the Iraqi insurgency and discourage governments in the region from being hosts to such bases.

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