THE BLOG
05/10/2005 12:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

IRAQ: Exit or Empire?

Whether the U.S. does or does not intend to establish a permanent military presence in Iraq is a factual question.

The Bush administration has repeatedly stated that it intends to withdraw American military forces as the new Iraqi government develops the means, with our help, to defend itself and provide its own security. To my knowledge, the Administration has not positively stated, nor has it been definitively asked by the press or Congress, whether it intends to withdraw ALL troops.

There is one way to find out. Are we, or are we not, building permanent military bases in Iraq? Yes or no? If we are withdrawing ALL troops, we do not need permanent bases. If we are building military bases, we do not intend to withdraw all our troops. Simple as that.

Though the press has been unaccountably lax in pursuing this question, the best evidence, mostly from non-"mainstream" sources, is that we are building somewhere between 12 and 14 permanent military bases. Permanent in this context means concrete and steel not tents and trench latrines.

If the goal of the Project for a New American Century, as it thereafter became the Bush administration, was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, install a friendly government in Baghdad, set up a permanent political and military presence in Iraq, and dominate the behavior of the region (including securing oil supplies), then you build permanent bases for some kind of permanent American military presence. If the goal was to spread democracy and freedom, then you don’t.

So, are we? Or are we not?