Permanent US Colony
By Dahr Jamail
14 March 2006
r u t h o u t
Why does the Bush Administration
refuse to discuss withdrawing occupation forces from Iraq? Why is Halliburton,
who landed the no-bid contracts to construct and maintain US military
bases in Iraq, posting higher profits than ever before in its 86-year
Why do these bases in Iraq
resemble self-contained cities as much as military outposts?
Why are we hearing such
ludicrous and outrageous statements from the highest ranking military
general in the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Peter Pace, who when asked how
things were going in Iraq on March 9th in an interview
on "Meet the Press" said, "I'd say they're going well.
I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're
going very, very well from everything you look at."
I wonder if there is a training
school, or at least talking point memos for these Chairmen of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, because Pace's predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, told
Senator John McCain last September that "In a sense, things are
going well [in Iraq]."
General Pace also praised
the Iraqi military, saying, "Now there are over 100 [Iraqi] battalions
in the field."
Wow! General Pace must have
waved his magic wand and materialized all these 99 new Iraqi battalions
that are diligently keeping things safe and secure in occupied Iraq.
Because according to the top US general in Iraq, General George Casey,
not long ago there was only one Iraqi battalion (about 500-600 soldiers)
capable of fighting on its own in Iraq.
During a late-September
Armed Services Committee hearing, Casey acknowledged that
the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions last June had shrunk
to one in September. That is less than six months ago.
I thought it would be a
good idea to find someone who is qualified to discuss how feasible it
would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months, as Pace
now claims has occurred.
I decided that someone who
was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas,
starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he
had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two
Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well.
And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations
Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States
Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training
soldiers, that would be a bonus.
That person is Stan Goff.
"This is utter bullshit,"
was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions
when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance
among his forces."
Goff adds, "That dip-shit
[Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and disciplined people under
arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and almost 100,000 with the
support units they would require. To train and oversee them would require
thousands of American advisors. It must suck for a career Marine to
be used so blatantly as a PR flak."
Goff mentioned that Pace
"and everyone else" knows that the Iraqi forces, "however
many there are," are heavily cross-infiltrated.
"He [Pace] is saying
that the Bush administration is going to empower a pro-Iranian government
with 100 ready battalions, when this administration was handed this
particular government as the booby prize in exchange for Sistani pulling
their cookies out of the fire during the joint rebellions in Najaf and
Fallujah," added Goff.
Further discrediting the
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Goff said, "To train 99
[battalions] since last September is a claim only the average American
might swallow. The right question to ask is, where are they? Where are
they headquartered, and where are they in operation? Claiming operations
security doesn't count, unless they believe they can hide 100 units
of 600 people each in Iraq ... from other Iraqis ... who are often related
He concludes, "These
guys have become accustomed to saying any damn thing, then counting
on ignorance and apathy at home - along with hundreds of Democrats who
need spine transplants - to get away with it. You can quote me on any
There's a good reason why
Pace and others are busy spewing smoke - it's to hide the fact that
there are no plans to leave Iraq.
While we're addressing propaganda,
we mustn't leave out our brilliant military strategist and warrior for
protecting human rights, the illustrious Secretary of State Condoleezza
On March 8th, Rice delivered
the opening remarks on the release of her Department's "2005
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices."
The introduction to the
report says: "In Iraq, 2005 was a year of major progress for democracy,
democratic rights and freedom. There was a steady growth of NGOs and
other civil society associations that promote human rights."
This report is submitted
to Congress by the State Department. I've often wondered if our politicians
are just this ignorant, or simply horrifically misinformed like so many
Americans. This report, perhaps, answers the latter.
My point is, if there is
a concerted effort by high-ranking officials of the Bush administration
to portray things in Iraq as going well, then why are there permanent
bases being constructed in Iraq?
This media smokescreen from
the likes of Pace, Rice and even "sharp-shooter" Cheney, who
recently said things in Iraq are "improving steadily," conveniently
leads the American people toward believing there will eventually be
a withdrawal of American soldiers.
But the problem with smokescreens
is that pesky thing called "reality."
And in Iraq, the reality
is that people like Pace, Rice, Cheney and their ever-eloquent front
man aren't telling the American public about their true plans for Iraq.
One example that provides
some insight into their agenda is the US "Embassy" which is
under construction in the infamous "Green Zone."
As you read this, a controversial
Kuwait-based construction firm is building a $592
million US embassy in Baghdad. When the dust settles, this
compound will be the largest and most secure diplomatic compound in
The headquarters, I mean
"Embassy," will be a self-sustaining cluster of 21 buildings
reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls to be as thick
as 15 feet.
Plans are for over 1,000
US "government officials" to staff and reside there. Lucky
for them, they will have access to the gym, swimming pool, barber and
beauty shops, food court and commissary. There will also be a large-scale
barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle
maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619
one-bedroom units. And luckily for the "government officials,"
their water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent
from Baghdad's city utilities. The total site will be two-thirds the
area of the National Mall in Washington, DC."
I wonder if any liberated
Iraqis will have access to their swimming pool?
And unlike the Iraqi infrastructure,
which is in total shambles and functioning below pre-invasion levels
in nearly every area, the US "Embassy" is being constructed
right on time. The US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee recently called
this an "impressive" feat, considering the construction is
taking place in one of the most violent and volatile spots on the planet.
Then there are the permanent
To give you an idea of what
these look like in Iraq, let's start with Camp Anaconda, near Balad.
Occupying 15 square miles of Iraq, the base boasts two swimming pools
(not the plastic inflatable type), a gym, mini-golf course and first-run
The 20,000 soldiers who
live at the Balad
Air Base, less than 1,000 of whom ever leave the base,
can inspect new iPod accessories in one of the two base exchanges, which
have piles of the latest electronics and racks of CDs to choose from.
One of the PX managers recently boasted that every day he was selling
15 televisions to soldiers.
At Camp Anaconda, located
in al-Anbar province where resistance is fierce, the occupation forces
live in air-conditioned units where plans are being drawn up to run
internet, cable television and overseas telephone access to them.
The thousands of civilian
contractors live at the base in a section called "KBR-land,"
and there is a hospital where doctors carry out 400 surgeries every
month on wounded troops.
Air Force officials on the
base claim the runway there is one of the busiest in the world, where
unmanned Predator drones take off carrying their Hellfire missiles,
along with F-16's, C-130's, helicopters, and countless others, as the
bases houses over 250 aircraft.
If troops aren't up for
the rather lavish dinners served by "Third Country Nationals"
from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who work for slave wages,
they can visit the Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's or Subway, then
wash it down with a mocha from the Starbucks.
There are several other
gigantic bases in Iraq besides camp Anaconda, such as Camp Victory near
Baghdad Airport, which - according to a reporter for Mother Jones magazine
- when complete will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
The Kosovo base is currently one of the largest overseas bases built
since the war in Vietnam.
Camp Liberty is adjacent
to Camp Victory - where soldiers even compete in their own triathlons.
"The course, longer than 140 total miles, spanned several bases
in the greater Camp Victory area in west Baghdad," says a news
article on a DOD
Mr. 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 US in the Middle East.
Less than two weeks after
the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, US
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 (where the triathlon was), Tallil (near Nasiriyah,
in the south), one in the Kurdish north at either Irbil or Qayyarah
(they are only 50 kilometers apart) and one in western al-Anbar province
at Al-Asad. Of course, let's not forget the aforementioned Camp Anaconda
More recently, on May 22
of last year, US
military commanders announced that they would consolidate
troops into four large air bases. It was announced at this time that
while buildings were being made of concrete instead of the usual metal
trailers and tin-sheathed buildings, military officers working on the
plan "said the consolidation plan was not meant to establish a
permanent US military presence in Iraq."
The US has at least four
of these massive bases in Iraq. Billions of dollars have been spent
in their construction, and they are in about the same locations where
they were mentioned they would be by military planners back before Mr.
Bush declared that major
combat operations were over in Iraq.
It appears as though "mission
accomplished" in Iraq was not necessarily referring
to guarding the Ministry of Oil and occupying the country indefinitely
(or finding WMDs, disrupting al-Qaeda, or liberating Iraqis, blah-blah-blah),
but to having a military beach-head in the heart of the Middle East.
Note that while US officials
don't dare say the word "permanent" when referring to military
bases in Iraq, they will say "permanent access." An article
entitled "Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in
Iraq," which was a front-page story in the New York Times on April
19, 2003, reads: "There will probably never be an announcement
of permanent stationing of troops. Not permanent basing, but permanent
access is all that is required, officials say."
Why all of this? Why these
obviously permanent bases? Why the beach-head?
A quick glance at US government
military strategy documents is even more revealing.
"Our forces will be
strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military
build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United
States," reads the
2002 National Security Strategy.
To accomplish this, the
US will "require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe
and Northeast Asia."
Another interesting document
Vision 2020" from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, whose "vision" is "Dedicated individuals and
innovative organizations transforming the joint force of the 21st Century
to achieve full spectrum dominance [bold type theirs]:
persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of
conflict [italics theirs]."
US policymakers have replaced
the Cold War with the Long War for Global Empire and Unchallenged Military
Hegemony. This is the lens through which we must view Iraq to better
understand why there are permanent US bases there.
Quadrennial Defense Review Report released on February
6, 2006, there is a stated ambition to fight "multiple, overlapping
wars" and to "ensure that all major and emerging powers are
integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international
system." The report goes on to say that the US will "also
seek to ensure that no foreign power can dictate terms of regional or
global security. It will attempt to dissuade any military competitor
from developing disruptive or other capabilities that could enable regional
hegemony or hostile action against the United States or other friendly
countries, and it will seek to deter aggression or coercion. Should
deterrence fail, the United States would deny a hostile power its strategic
and operational objectives."
In sum, what is the purpose
of permanent US military garrisons in Iraq and the implicit goals of
these government documents?
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who spent
over 8 months reporting from occupied Iraq.