Permanent US Iraq and Afghanistan Occupations Planned
(Stephen Lendman) Nothing reveals Washington’s imperial agenda better than its global empire of bases. Sixty-six years post-WW II, America maintains dozens in Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea alone.
In his 2006 book, “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” Chalmers Johnson discussed the known numbers at the time by size and branch of service. He also highlighted the fallout, including oppressive noise, pollution, environmental destruction, expropriation of valuable public and private land, and drunken, disorderly, abusive soldiers committing rape, murder, and other crimes, often unpunished under provisions of US-imposed Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs).
Currently, Pentagon bases infest Middle East/North African/Central Asian countries. In fact, at least 88 dot Iraq alone, including:
— permanent, city-sized Main Operating Bases (MOBs); for example, Balad Air Base in northern Iraq covers 16 square miles plus another 12-mile security perimeter; these are large and permanent, have extensive infrastructure, command and control headquarters, accommodations for families in combat-free areas, hospitals, schools, recreational facilities, and nearly everything found in US cities; similar MOBs include Camp Adder in southern Iraq, Al-Asad Air Base in the west, and Victory Base Complex, compromising nine bases, including Camp Victory around Baghdad’s International Airport;
— Forward Operating Sites (FOSs), also major but smaller than MOBs; and
— Cooperative Security Locations (CLSs) – smaller facilities to preposition weapons, munitions, and modest troop numbers.
These type bases span Afghanistan, besides ongoing expansion and construction of major facilities for permanent occupation.
Known major sites include Bagram, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif air bases. Frontline airfields include Herat, Jalalabad, and a dozen or more others, besides hundreds of large and smaller Pentagon facilities according to Tomdispatch.com writer Nick Turse in his February 10, 2010 article titled, “Totally Occupied: 700 Military Bases Spread Across Afghanistan.”
Citing “official sources,” he said a “base-building boom” began in 2009 for US and Afghan forces. It’s ongoing for permanent occupation, including a new Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion 11,500 foot all-weather concrete/asphalt runway and air traffic control tower, as well as a Shindand Air Field 9,000 foot runway completed last December. Moreover, spare parts and other supplies have been stockpiled for permanency, not departure, Obama’s withdrawal duplicity notwithstanding. More about it below.
Washington, in fact, came to Iraq and Afghanistan to stay. Doing so confirms a hostile presence occupied populations detest, including angry South Koreans and Japanese against continued US occupation. In less developed countries, social movements want America pushed back or expelled altogether to regain their sovereign independence, free from US imperial wars, injustice, fallout, and shame when their own nations participate.
Last February, puppet president Karzai confirmed Washington’s demand for permanent bases, claiming they’re in Afghanistan’s interest. In fact, US and other NATO leaders agreed on a “transition strategy” last year in Lisbon to hand over control to Afghan forces by 2014. At the time, vice president Biden called it a “drop dead date.” He lied. So did Obama like he did earlier, saying withdrawing US forces would begin in July 2011.
In December 2009, Obama announced 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan to enable withdrawals beginning in 18 months, insisting at the time America has no permanent occupation plans. He lied again like he’s repeatedly done throughout his tenure, knowing America came to Iraq and Afghanistan to stay.
Moreover, when he took office in January 2009, 34,000 troops were in Afghanistan. By December, he tripled the number to 100,000. Cutting back incrementally by a third if, in fact, done, will still leave double the force in place from when his tenure began.
Nonetheless, on June 22, he addressed the nation, saying:
“(S)tarting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 by next summer (to let) Afghan security forces (take) the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete….”
False! A large US presence will remain permanently. Drone and other air attacks will continue, killing civilians called militants. Obama’s duplicity is politically motivated with November 2012 in mind to assure enough support for reelection despite falling approval ratings.
War-weary Americans, in fact, are increasingly burdened during economic hard times. As a result, polls show growing opposition to conflicts. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said “Things are falling apart at home while we (keep) searching the world looking for dragons to slay.”
Pollster Peter Brown added:
“I do not think there is any doubt (that) Afghanistan, the involvement in Iraq, and now (in) Libya has for many Americans raised questions about the wisdom of these policies.”
The Brookings Institution’s Stephen Hess explained that “(a) trio of wars is not exactly what Americans are interested in at this time when they have a very full platter of problems at home,” harming them gravely.
In fact, when unpopular wars take precedence over pocket book issues, people react angrily, perhaps enough to deny Obama a second term if conditions deteriorate more between now and November 2012.
Obama also bogusly claimed significant Afghanistan gains, saying “we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds….(T)he tide of war is receding (and) the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance” when it’s nowhere in sight in an endless cauldron of death and destruction, affecting US forces like Afghans.
In fact, according to a US Army colonel wishing to remain anonymous, telling Time magazine:
“The mendacity is getting so egregious that I am fast losing the ability to remain quiet. These yarns of ‘significant progress’ are being covered up by the blood and limbs of hundreds – HUNDREDS – of American uniformed service members each and every month, and you know that the rest of this summer is going to see the peak of that bloodshed.”
He added that America’s ability to achieve a secure handover to Afghan forces is “sheer madness, and so far as I can tell, in the mainstream media and reputable publications, it is going almost entirely without challenge.” Moreover, the same holds for Pakistan where drone kills enrage people to resist, perpetuating endless conflict.
After a decade of war and occupation, in fact, America won’t admit it lost and leave. Instead, massive bloodshed continues to create the illusion of progress Obama hopes will help reelect him, mindless that what matters most are pocket book issues, especially when during hard times they go begging.
June 7 – 9 Zogby International polling numbers reflect growing voter disapproval, showing 43% approve Obama’s performance. Only 38% say he deserves reelection. Besides domestic issues, it reflects growing disenchantment with endless wars, including against Libya that most Americans oppose.
Once closer to November 2012, force-fed austerity to finance them may cost sitting politicians their jobs, even Obama if voters think he spurned them when they most need help. For beleaguered Iraqis and Afghans, however, it hardly matters if America came to stay.
A Final Comment
Controlling Eurasia’s vast oil and gas reserves explains why America plans permanent Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, terror bombs Libya, and heads toward possible general war by threatening Syria, Iran, and perhaps other states to fuel its insatiable military-industrial appetite.
Washington’s strategy also includes encroaching close to Russian and Chinese borders to diminish their military and economic challenge, as well as potential greater dominance by establishing closer ties, thereby weakening America.
The policy is fraught with dangers, the same ones Barbara Tuchman explained in her 1962 book, “The Guns of August,” on how WW I began and its early weeks. Once started, things spun out of control with cataclysmic consequences, including over 20 million dead, many millions wounded, and a generation of young men lost before it ended.
As a result, igniting another global conflict should give everyone pause, including militarists and war profiteers sacrificing sanity, security, and prosperity for inconsequential ephemeral gains by comparison.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.