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Old 05-03-2007, 12:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Embassy Baghdad

I found this article remarkable. Why would the US be building such a thing amidst the deafening clamor to bring the troops home? Where is the logic of building the World's Biggest US Embassy in the World with pulling out of Iraq? Why are these buildings being constructed in the midst of a civil war? Why aren't any of the Presidential candidates talking about this? Does this have Congressional backing? Do the insurgents/al-qaeda know about this? What the hell is going on here?

Quote:
New U.S. Embassy in Iraq cloaked in mystery
Baghdad locale, slated to be completed in 2007, to be largest of its kind
5:45 p.m. ET April 14, 2006




BAGHDAD, Iraq - The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq’s turbulent future.

The new U.S. Embassy also seems as cloaked in secrecy as the ministate in Rome.

“We can’t talk about it. Security reasons,” Roberta Rossi, a spokeswoman at the current embassy, said when asked for information about the project.

A British tabloid even told readers the location was being kept secret — news that would surprise Baghdadis who for months have watched the forest of construction cranes at work across the winding Tigris, at the very center of their city and within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital, though fewer explode there these days.

The embassy complex — 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report — is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified “Green Zone,” just east of al-Samoud, a former palace of Saddam Hussein’s, and across the road from the building where the ex-dictator is now on trial.

The Republican Palace, where U.S. Embassy functions are temporarily housed in cubicles among the chandelier-hung rooms, is less than a mile away in the 4-square-mile zone, an enclave of American and Iraqi government offices and lodgings ringed by miles of concrete barriers.

5,500 employees at the embassy
The 5,500 Americans and Iraqis working at the embassy, almost half listed as security, are far more numerous than at any other U.S. mission worldwide. They rarely venture out into the “Red Zone,” that is, violence-torn Iraq.

This huge American contingent at the center of power has drawn criticism.

“The presence of a massive U.S. embassy — by far the largest in the world — co-located in the Green Zone with the Iraqi government is seen by Iraqis as an indication of who actually exercises power in their country,” the International Crisis Group, a European-based research group, said in one of its periodic reports on Iraq.

State Department spokesman Justin Higgins defended the size of the embassy, old and new, saying it’s indicative of the work facing the United States here.

“It’s somewhat self-evident that there’s going to be a fairly sizable commitment to Iraq by the U.S. government in all forms for several years,” he said in Washington.

Higgins noted that large numbers of non-diplomats work at the mission — hundreds of military personnel and dozens of FBI agents, for example, along with representatives of the Agriculture, Commerce and other U.S. federal departments.

They sleep in hundreds of trailers or “containerized” quarters scattered around the Green Zone. But next year embassy staff will move into six apartment buildings in the new complex, which has been under construction since mid-2005 with a target completion date of June 2007.

Iraq’s interim government transferred the land to U.S. ownership in October 2004, under an agreement whose terms were not disclosed.

“Embassy Baghdad” will dwarf new U.S. embassies elsewhere, projects that typically cover 10 acres. The embassy’s 104 acres is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall.


Estimated cost of over $1 billion

Original cost estimates ranged over $1 billion, but Congress appropriated only $592 million in the emergency Iraq budget adopted last year. Most has gone to a Kuwait builder, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, with the rest awarded to six contractors working on the project’s “classified” portion — the actual embassy offices.

Higgins declined to identify those builders, citing security reasons, but said five were American companies.

The designs aren’t publicly available, but the Senate report makes clear it will be a self-sufficient and “hardened” domain, to function in the midst of Baghdad power outages, water shortages and continuing turmoil.

It will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility, “systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities,” says the report, the most authoritative open source on the embassy plans.

Besides two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, and the apartment buildings for staff, the compound will offer a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building.

Security, overseen by U.S. Marines, will be extraordinary: setbacks and perimeter no-go areas that will be especially deep, structures reinforced to 2.5-times the standard, and five high-security entrances, plus an emergency entrance-exit, the Senate report says.

Higgins said the work, under way on all parts of the project, is more than one-third complete.

Last edited by powerclown; 05-03-2007 at 12:54 PM..
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Because the people currently fighting over there expect there to be a military presence for a long time to come (peaceful or war-ready). Even if things settle down in Iraq I could see their remaining 6-8 fully operational military bases. We still have military bases in Germany after how many years. Do people really think after invading a country we're just going to pull everything out? Look at our base on Kuwait, they are continuously adding more permanent buildings to it all the time. When we "help a country out" we establish a base of operations there with no intensions of moving.

As to why the embassy is going to be so large? Got me?

Oh, and I just noticed, that article is from more than a year ago. Like it says, the people working at the embassy need a place to live within safe grounds. So at least half of that project is housing. The reason why it is so expensive, is because having a contractor from the U.S. or any developed country work on building in a war-zone is at least $150K a year for just his salary, I don't even want to know what the contracting company makes for physically putting a person in that location; don't forget about housing them, feeding them, and paying Indians and Sri Lankans to keep the shower trailers clean, and serve food at the chow-halls (don't worry, they don't make that much money to be in a war-zone). I'm not defending the construction of a large embassy, just saying that's the way it is.

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Old 05-03-2007, 01:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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OK...I see some of your points, but doesn't it strike you as strange that on the one hand, people worldwide are screaming for the US to get out of Iraq NOW (including American politicians), and on the other hand Americans ignoring this and going forth and planning for what looks to be long-term presence in Iraq? In that case, why the rush to bring home the troops for example?

Regarding your German bases comparison, are you saying that we have good things to look forward to in Iraq, vis a vis what the Marshall Plan did for Germany? I have doubts. Or maybe at the very least, the Americans are committed to making an ally out of Iraq at all costs? The rhetoric here in America, and the reality on the ground in Iraq seem completely at odds...or am I missing the obvious? Yet, nothing *seems* obvious...it all seems "between the lines".
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Old 05-03-2007, 02:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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well powerclown, if you saw my post in the other thread on cheney, you know why i think this is. i think that we will have troop reductions, but we will have largely finished with the necessary military installations before we do. the rhetoric is for us to pay attention to and try to weed through; eventually, the calls for the troops to be brought home will happen in a sense, ergo reductions to what the embassy/bases will hold on a continuous basis.
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Old 05-03-2007, 02:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It would be particularly nonsensical to install a government "voted for by the people" and then not recognize it with normalized diplomatic relations. That part has nothing to do with the push or desire for withdrawal.

In general, embassies aren't really occupations of foreign soil. In specific, this one will have to be able to function as a self-contained safe zone for the forseeable future. It would be quite embarrassing to have to abandon it if conditions in the city were to deteriorate.
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Old 05-03-2007, 03:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ubertuber is exactly right. I stepped out of bounds from the original post talking about military bases. That embassy will have to be self-contained. The area is too volatile, and if it were not self-contained we would be evacuating people far too often. Unfortunately, because of that, the embassy will function a lot like a military base. Checkpoints everywhere, only properly badged and identified people allowed entry.
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Old 05-03-2007, 04:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertuber
It would be quite embarrassing to have to abandon it if conditions in the city were to deteriorate.
Exactly.

I find it amazing that the Americans feel so confident and emboldened as to build such a symbolically political structure amidst what is seemingly total political chaos and civil war. It is as if they are somehow privy to the final diplomatic status between the 2 nations. The massive size of the thing even seems to hammer home the inevitability of it all. Do the Americans even know what the final borders of Iraq are going to look like? Are they even sure Iraq won't become an anti-American and Islamic fundamentalist regime in the model of Iran? Seems like the cart is before the horse here.
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Old 05-03-2007, 04:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It's a symbol, but also a symptom. The idea is we're losing badly but we'll need a reason to stay even if the Democratic President is successful in a full troop withdrawal. This is the size of the Vatican and is probably an excellent place to defend from a military standpoint. This is the little piece of America in the Middle East; a symbol representing the fact that we won't be leaving any time soon. It's also another symptom of what roach was describing in the Impeach Dick Cheney thread. This is the feather in the cap that was our dominance over Saddam. It a Costco sized embassy right in one of the best locations, on the Tigris.
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Old 05-03-2007, 05:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This administration never intended to leave Iraq. The palatial embassy, which has been in the works for years, is just one more piece of evidence as to why Bush refuses to alter his course in Iraq.
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elphaba
This administration never intended to leave Iraq. The palatial embassy, which has been in the works for years, is just one more piece of evidence as to why Bush refuses to alter his course in Iraq.
Well you seem to be implying that you know what the American long-term plan in Iraq is.
Why then is Bush (America) refusing to leave Iraq?

Oil? Surely the Iraqis themselves will be the ones manning the spigots and deciding how the oil revenues are used.
Security? Are they going to remain as a kind of skeleton "ultra-peacekeeping force"?
Political? Will they be the political puppetmasters in Iraq for the next 100 years?
Advisory? Will the Americans be like the Geek Squad, ie., in an onsite support & guidance capacity?
Nation Building? Are the Americans going to rebuild the country from scratch in its own image?

Other?
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:52 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Oil? Surely the Iraqis themselves will be the ones manning the spigots and deciding how the oil revenues are used.
Considering the locations of the military bases we're building, that'd be a big no. We are stationed along the pipeline and near several major oil fields. There's no reason to think we won't insist on 'protecting' them from the civil war we caused.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Security? Are they going to remain as a kind of skeleton "ultra-peacekeeping force"?
If by security you mean military control, then yes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Political? Will they be the political puppetmasters in Iraq for the next 100 years?
No, the oil will run out in a few decades unless several other large sources are located.
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Considering the locations of the military bases we're building, that'd be a big no. We are stationed along the pipeline and near several major oil fields. There's no reason to think we won't insist on 'protecting' them from the civil war we caused.

If by security you mean military control, then yes.

No, the oil will run out in a few decades unless several other large sources are located.
Those are fantastical statements... Correct me if Im wrong, but are you saying that the Americans are going to steal the Iraqi's oil and use the revenues for their own purposes? What would thoses purposes be? Wouldn't this perpetuate a failed state in Iraq? Would the world stand by and allow the Americans to pillage Iraq like that? As far as military control, what about Bush's assertion that the Americans will step down as the Iraqis are able to stand up for themselves? Is this code for: We don't believe the Iraqis will ever be able to stand up on their own, and we will rule them all from within their own country?
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Those are fantastical statements... Correct me if [I'm] wrong, but are you saying that the Americans are going to steal the Iraqi's oil and use the revenues for their own purposes?
Steal...no, but we'll strong arm them into giving us really, really stupidly low prices. We'll insist it's a price for helping them defend their oil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
What would [those] purposes be?
I don't know if anyone has told you this, but the President and Vice President are in the oil and war businesses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Wouldn't this perpetuate a failed state in Iraq?
I think it's clear that they want a failed state in Iraq.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Would the world stand by and allow the Americans to pillage Iraq like that?
Why would they stand by and allow us to illegally invade a sovereign nation without provocation? It's not about 'allow'. They clearly have no power over us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
As far as military control, what about Bush's assertion that the Americans will step down as the Iraqis are able to stand up for themselves? Is this code for: We don't believe the Iraqis will ever be able to stand up on their own, and we will rule them all from within their own country?
Well...permanent military bases, a GIGANTIC embassy, what looks like no clear troop withdrawal (in fact, we're sending MORE troops)...it's a pretty clear picture.
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Steal...no, but we'll strong arm them into giving us really, really stupidly low prices. We'll insist it's a price for helping them defend their oil.

I don't know if anyone has told you this, but the President and Vice President are in the oil and war businesses.

I think it's clear that they want a failed state in Iraq.

Why would they stand by and allow us to illegally invade a sovereign nation without provocation? It's not about 'allow'. They clearly have no power over us.

Well...permanent military bases, a GIGANTIC embassy, what looks like no clear troop withdrawal (in fact, we're sending MORE troops)...it's a pretty clear picture.
I simply can't believe the majority of your assertions here. I can't believe that the Americans are going to get such favorable rates on oil as these things are strictly monitored. Even if they weren't monitored, what long-term advantage would America have in vastly lower oil prices? I understand that Bush has had an aggressive policy in Iraq, but what about when he leaves office? Will the new folks be like Bush too? Is this a Bush thing or an America thing? And why would America want a failed state in Iraq? None of it makes any sense to me...perhaps you can explain your opinion of what the long term (50-100 years) ambitions of America are?
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:14 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
I simply can't believe the majority of your assertions here. I can't believe that the Americans are going to get such favorable rates on oil as these things are strictly monitored.
Monitored by people who can do anything about it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Even if they weren't monitored, what long-term advantage would America have in vastly lower oil prices?
Seriously? Oil, right now the most valuable thing on the planet, and we're getting it at 99 cent store prices and you're asking what the benefit would be? Oil companies will make trillions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
I understand that Bush has had an aggressive policy in Iraq, but what about when he leaves office?
He'll either retire or go back to the oil industry. Either way, he's going to have money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Will the new folks be like Bush too? Is this a Bush thing or an America thing? And why would America want a failed state in Iraq? None of it makes any sense to me...perhaps you can explain your opinion of what the long term (50-100 years) ambitions of America are?
This is a Neocon thing. It's a PNAC thing. It's an oil industry thing.

My ambitions are in stark contrast to the Bush administration as to the next 50-100 years. I can explain mine, but it's not relevant to this thread or the discussion.
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:26 PM   #16 (permalink)
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American oil companies make trillions from secret oil deals with Iraq.

Ok.

Is that it?

End of story?


So America is going to suck Iraq dry, and leave it to rot.
Then go on to the next oil-rich country, suck it dry, and leave it to rot.
Then do the same to all the rest of the poor saps in the world, and pretty soon the world is full of states that America has sucked dry.
It has no one else to suck dry.
Having no one else to exploit, America eventually withers and dies.

Isn't that somewhat counter-productive?
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:14 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
American oil companies make trillions from secret oil deals with Iraq.

Ok.

Is that it?

End of story?


So America is going to suck Iraq dry, and leave it to rot.
Then go on to the next oil-rich country, suck it dry, and leave it to rot.
Then do the same to all the rest of the poor saps in the world, and pretty soon the world is full of states that America has sucked dry.
It has no one else to suck dry.
Having no one else to exploit, America eventually withers and dies.

Isn't that somewhat counter-productive?
Frankly, pursuing oil at all this late in the game is stupid, BUT there is still money to be made. A lot of money. Even if Hubbard's Peak was reached 20 years ago, there could still be 200-300 billion left to make. Some people, obviously, are willing to sell their soul for money.
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:31 AM   #18 (permalink)
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To all those feeling negatively about this project, I think you've missed an important feature of it. The embassy staff is going to be larger. I'm not talking about the security folks, but the on-the-ground folks that do the actual embassy work.

One of the largest failings of this whole mess has been the lack of support from the non-military branches of the administration. Where has the Department of Agriculture been? Last I heard, they'd sent a total of 10 people in 4 years. How's that going to help anything? What about HUD? Or Transportation? I don't think anyone here will argue that putting people to work wouldn't reduce the level of violence.

There are lots of career experts working within the administration that could be giving valuable advice on rebuilding the country, but they're still here. My hope is that the new embassy will be have a lot more people helping to rebuild the country. Maybe that's pie-in-the-sky, but it seems logical.
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:35 AM   #19 (permalink)
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It's an obvious intelligence resource and clearing house. How can anyone be surprised? Just planning for the future, for good or ill..........
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Aside from the oil. I think Bush thought he was playing a game of Risk 5 years ago. He might have thought that having bases in Afghanistan and Iraq would leave a strong foothold for a possible confrontation with Iran, and also having a presence to try and mediate any Pakistan/India nuclear disputes (yes those countries still have problems with each other). I think Bush honestly thought if we got rid of Saddam the Iraqis would celebrate and welcome us to their country, and we could move on. I don't think he realized that they would retaliate.

Every Colonel I talked to a year ago while in Iraq was not thinking about "if we invade Iran", but "when we invade Iran what am I going to do to keep my forces alive". The next administration has to deal with this mess, and it's not going to be as easy as "pull out all our troops now!". I hate to say it, but by putting our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan Bush has directed most of terrorist attention there. Pulling out all our forces would redirect attacks to our soil. So, we can have 3-4 or more people die each day over there, or have a few hundred to thousand die on our soil, and we go back to the "I can't believe this, we have to retaliate some how!" mentality and we make some bold move, and end up in the exact situation we are in now (democrat or no in office). Remember, after 9/11 even most Democrats bent over backwards to permit going to war.

I feel sorry for our next president. No matter what they do they are going to get a bad rap because of Bush. If they pull out completely the people of this country will hate them, if they leave troops there, the people will hate them. I honestly don't know what to do or have a resolution to the situation. Aside from changing my life to try and use as little oil based energy products as I can, and starting with pushing my city and county officials to get them to change the energy consumption habits of both.

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Old 05-04-2007, 07:13 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The best thing we can do for ourselves and for humanity at large is to come up wiht a viable non-petroleum energy source. The need for energy has been distorting mankind's priorities for a century.
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:27 AM   #22 (permalink)
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loquitur,

we're on it dog
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Old 05-04-2007, 08:53 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
Well you seem to be implying that you know what the American long-term plan in Iraq is.
Why then is Bush (America) refusing to leave Iraq?

Oil? Surely the Iraqis themselves will be the ones manning the spigots and deciding how the oil revenues are used.
Security? Are they going to remain as a kind of skeleton "ultra-peacekeeping force"?
Political? Will they be the political puppetmasters in Iraq for the next 100 years?
Advisory? Will the Americans be like the Geek Squad, ie., in an onsite support & guidance capacity?
Nation Building? Are the Americans going to rebuild the country from scratch in its own image?

Other?
Are you unaware of the oil legislation being forced upon the Iraqi legislature? It is one of their specific benchmarks set by Bush, and I believe the "surge" has been merely to buy additional time to get that legislation passed.
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:15 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurty[B]
.....The next administration has to deal with this mess, and it's not going to be as easy as "pull out all our troops now!". I hate to say it, but by putting our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan Bush has directed most of terrorist attention there. Pulling out all our forces would redirect attacks to our soil. So, we can have 3-4 or more people die each day over there, or have a few hundred to thousand die on our soil, and we go back to the "I can't believe this, we have to retaliate some how!" mentality and we make some bold move, and end up in the exact situation we are in now (democrat or no in office). Remember, after 9/11 even most Democrats bent over backwards to permit going to war.......
I could not disagree with you more....there is no "war on terror", a long, long, war where we fight them "over there", so we don't have to "fight them here". If there was, the following incident that I wrote about yesterday,
http://www.tfproject.org/tfp/showthr...t=96966&page=4 and containted this:

Quote:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070416/berman

..........The apparent purging of Black at Abramoff's behest demonstrates the clout the lobbyist wielded at both the DOJ and the White House. Then-White House political director Ken Mehlman, the recent chairman of the Republican National Committee, told White House official Leonard Rodriguez, a protégé of Karl Rove, to "reach out to make Jack aware" of all Guam-related information, including candidates for US Attorney, according to the IG report.

In May 2002 Abramoff used his influence to kill a risk-assessment report of Guam and the neighboring Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), requested by Black, that called for federalizing immigration laws on the islands, a move that might have jeopardized the influx of cheap labor to CNMI and Abramoff's $1.6 million lobbying contract with its local government. Abramoff learned of the report from John Ashcroft's then-chief of staff, David Ayres, whom he hosted at a Washington Redskins game. "We'll hope that higher ups will take some time to squash this," Abramoff wrote. Sure enough, the report never came out, and the DOJ demoted its author, regional security specialist............
.....would not be happening. The contradictions between what the Bush admin. says, and what it does, should be a wake up call for all Americans.

This is from the POTUS's own hand picked commission. The idea of deploying an army of 175,000, at a direct cost of more than $2 billion per week, to control "this" so that we "don't have to fight them here" (in the US) is not believable or practical....
From page 10 of the Baker ISG report:
Quote:
http://www.usip.org/isg/iraq_study_g...oup_report.pdf
....Sources of Violence

Violence is increasing in scope, complexity, and lethality. There are multiple sources of
violence in Iraq: the Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaeda and affiliated jihadist groups, Shiite
militias and death squads, and organized criminality. Sectarian violence—particularly in and
around Baghdad—has become the principal challenge to stability.
Most attacks on Americans still come from the Sunni Arab insurgency. The insurgency
comprises former elements of the Saddam Hussein regime, disaffected Sunni Arab Iraqis, and
common criminals. It has significant support within the Sunni Arab community. The
insurgency has no single leadership but is a network of networks. It benefits from participants’
detailed knowledge of Iraq’s infrastructure, and arms and financing are supplied primarily from
within Iraq. The insurgents have different goals, although nearly all oppose the presence of U.S.
forces in Iraq. Most wish to restore Sunni Arab rule in the country. Some aim at winning local
power and control.

Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some
of the more spectacular acts: suicide attacks, large truck bombs, and attacks on significant -
religious or political targets. Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters—numbering an estimated 1,300—play a supporting role or carry out
suicide operations. Al Qaeda’s goals include instigating a wider sectarian war between Iraq’s
Sunni and Shia, and driving the United States out of Iraq....
When the US took over in Afghanistan and installed their "puppet" Kharzai, there was no "drug problem" In Afghanistan:
Quote:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6205220.stm
Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 05:03 GMT
Afghanistan: A job half done


......Five years on, there is consensus on an urgent need to get a grip on the situation.

It is more difficult now with the emergence of a new "mafia": a nexus of drug smugglers, criminals, and in some provinces Taleban, filling a vacuum left by the government.

Nato forces are now acutely aware their fight is also about jobs and reconstruction. As General Eikenberry puts it: "Where the road ends, the Taleban begins".

As another harsh winter closes in, long cold nights without electricity, even in Kabul, concentrate Afghan minds. .........
The expectations that the imposed border "agreement" ....the "Dunbar Line" would expire, after 100 years, as it was suppose to, but didn't, IMO has as much to do with what is described as "Taleban insurgency" as it does about associating the fighting with "al-Qaeda".

Quote:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6572399.stm
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Afghanistan 'border fence' clash

Afghan troops have torn down part of a new anti-Taleban fence being erected by Pakistan on the border between the two countries, officials in Kabul say.

They say the move led to fighting between Afghan and Pakistani troops.

But Pakistan has denied the fence claim, saying the clashes started after one of its patrols came under fire.

It was the first such fighting since Pakistan announced plans earlier this year to fence and mine sections of the border to restrict Taleban fighters....

.....Afghanistan argues that the border between the two countries - known as the Durand Line - is disputed because it cuts off part of its territory.

The Durand Line was drawn up in 1893 by British India, which once included Pakistan, to divide powerful Pashtun tribes.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says few expect Pakistan's fence plan to stop Taleban movement.

But the measures might help ease pressure on Pakistan from the US, Nato and the UN who want it to do more to curb militant attacks in Afghanistan, he says.
The problem with a troop "pull out" now, is not about postponing or shifting the "GWOT", at best a propagandized myth. The problem is what to do about a region containing resources vital to the US, moreso because, instead of spending $1 trillion to fund a "Manhattan Project" style, research project to develop alternative energy sources, the US threw the money away destabilizing that key energy source region, and the result is that the most threatening and largest nation in that region that was checked militarily by Iraq, is now free to interrupt energy supplies/manipulate petroleum pricing, as it chooses...
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:29 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Nevermind...oil psa's.

Last edited by powerclown; 05-04-2007 at 10:07 AM..
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Old 05-23-2007, 03:57 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Bush's Requests for Iraqi Base Funding Make Some Wary of Extended Stay
by Peter Spiegel

WASHINGTON — Even as military planners look to withdraw significant numbers of American troops from Iraq in the coming year, the Bush administration continues to request hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases there, raising concerns over whether they are intended as permanent sites for U.S. forces.

Questions on Capitol Hill about the future of the bases have been prompted by the new emergency spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week with $67.6 billion in funding for the war effort, including the base money.

Although the House approved the measure, lawmakers are demanding that the Pentagon explain its plans for the bases, and they unanimously passed a provision blocking the use of funds for base agreements with the Iraqi government.

"It's the kind of thing that incites terrorism," Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said of long-term or permanent U.S. bases in countries such as Iraq.

Paul, a critic of the war, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would make it official policy not to maintain such bases in Iraq. He noted that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden cited U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia as grounds for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The debate in Congress comes as concerns grow over how long the U.S. intends to keep forces in Iraq, a worry amplified when President Bush earlier this week said that a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq would not occur during his term.

Long-term U.S. bases in Iraq would also be problematic in the Middle East, where they could lend credence to charges that the U.S. motive for the invasion was to seize land and oil. And they could also feed debate about the appropriate U.S. relationship with Iraq after Baghdad's new government fully assumes control.

State Department and Pentagon officials have insisted that the bases being constructed in Iraq will eventually be handed over to the Iraqi government.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Baghdad, said on Iraqi television last week that the U.S. had "no goal of establishing permanent bases in Iraq."

And Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable said, "We're building permanent bases in Iraq for Iraqis."

But the seemingly definitive administration statements mask a semantic distinction: Although officials say they are not building permanent U.S. bases, they decline to say whether they will seek a deal with the new Iraqi government to allow long-term troop deployments.

Asked at a congressional hearing last week whether he could "make an unequivocal commitment" that the U.S. officials would not seek to establish permanent bases in Iraq, Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander in charge of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, replied, "The policy on long-term presence in Iraq hasn't been formulated." Venable, the Pentagon spokesman, said it was "premature and speculative" to discuss long-term base agreements before the permanent Iraqi government had been put in place.

All told, the United States has set up 110 forward operating bases in Iraq, and the Pentagon says about 34 of them already have been turned over to the Iraqi government, part of an ongoing effort to gradually strengthen Iraqi security forces.

Bush is under political pressure to reduce the number of U.S. troops before midterm congressional elections, and the Pentagon is expected to decide soon whether the next major deployment will reflect a significant reduction in forces.

But despite the potential force reductions and the base handovers, the spending has continued.

Dov Zakheim, who oversaw the Pentagon's emergency spending requests as the department's budget chief until 2004, said critics might be reading too much into the costly emergency spending, needed to protect U.S. forces from insurgent attacks and provide better conditions for deployed troops.

The spending "doesn't necessarily connote permanence," Zakheim said. "God knows it's a tough enough environment anyway."

The bulk of the Pentagon's emergency spending for military construction over the last three years in Iraq has focused on three or four large-scale air and logistics bases that dot the center of the country.

The administration is seeking $348 million for base construction as part of its 2006 emergency war funding bill. The Senate has not yet acted on the request.

By far the most funding has gone to a mammoth facility north of Baghdad in Balad, which includes an air base and a logistics center. The U.S. Central Command said it intended to use the base as the military's primary hub in the region as it gradually hands off Baghdad airport to civilian authorities.

Through the end last year, the administration spent about $230 million in emergency funds on the Balad base, and its new request includes $17.8 million for new roads that can accommodate hulking military vehicles and a 12.4-mile-long, 13-foot-high security fence.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted in a report last year that many of the funds already spent, including for the facilities at Balad, suggested a longer-term U.S. presence.

Projects at the base include an $18-million aircraft parking ramp and a $15-million airfield lighting system that has allowed commanders to make Balad a strategic air center for the region; a $2.9-million Special Operations compound, isolated from the rest of the base and complete with landing pads for helicopters and airplanes, where classified payloads can be delivered; and a $7-million mail distribution building.

Other bases also are being developed in ways that could lend them to permanent use.

This year's request also includes $110 million for Tallil air base outside the southeastern city of Nasiriya, a sprawling facility in the shadow of the ruins of the biblical city of Ur. Only $11 million has been spent so far, but the administration's new request appears to envision Tallil as another major transportation hub, with new roads, a new dining hall for 6,000 troops — about two Army brigades — and a new center to organize and support large supply convoys.

The administration also has spent $50 million for Camp Taji, an Army base north of Baghdad, and $46.3 million on Al Asad air base in the western desert.

These large bases are being built at the same time that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on separate bases for the growing Iraqi military. According to the U.S. Central Command and data obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, for example, about $165 million has been spent to build an Iraqi base near the southern town of Numaniya and more than $150 million for a northern base at the old Iraqi army's Al Kasik facility.

The big numbers have begun to cause consternation in congressional appropriations committees, which are demanding more accountability from Pentagon officials on military construction in the region.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the president's newest funding bill this month with a strongly worded warning. In a report accompanying the legislation, the committee noted that it had already approved about $1.3 billion in emergency spending for war-related construction, but that the recently declared "long war" on terrorism should allow more oversight of plans for bases in the region.

It "has become clear in recent years that these expeditionary operations can result in substantial military construction expenditures of a magnitude normally associated with permanent bases," the committee reported.

Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees military construction, said his panel was concerned that money the Pentagon was ostensibly seeking for short-term emergency needs actually was going to projects that were not urgent but long-term in nature.

Walsh pointed to a $167-million request to build a series of roads in Iraq that bypass major cities, a proposal the administration said was needed to decrease the convoys' exposure to roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Walsh's subcommittee cut the budget for the project to $60 million. He said the project sounded "more like road construction" than it did a strategy to protect troops from IEDs.

The Appropriations Committee also inserted a ban on spending any of the new money on facilities in Iraq until the U.S. Central Command submitted a master plan for bases in the region. Abizaid, in congressional testimony last week, said such a plan was in the process of getting final Pentagon approval for release to the committee. But he noted: "The master plan is fairly clear on everything except for Iraq and Afghanistan, which I don't have policy guidance for long term."

Without such detail, it might prove impossible for congressional appropriators to get a firm idea of how the administration views the future of the U.S. presence on big bases in Iraq.

In any event, said Zakheim, the former Pentagon budget officer, projects that expand bases' ability to handle American cargo and warplanes will eventually be of use to the Iraqi government.

"Just because the Iraqis don't have an air force now doesn't mean they won't have it several years down the road," he said.

But critics said it was all the more reason for the administration to stop being vague about the future.

"The Iraqis believe we came for their oil and we're going to put bases on top of their oil," said Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), a critic of the administration's approach. "As long as the vast majority of Iraqis believe we want to be there indefinitely, those who are opposed to us are going to fight harder and those who are with us are going to be less enthusiastic."

Times staff writer Doug Smith contributed to this report.

On the rise

Here are four of the bases in Iraq for which the Bush administration has planned upgrades. Money spent through 2005 was granted through emergency spending bills since 2003:

1. Al Asad air base

By some accounts the second largest military air center in Iraq and the main supply base for troops in Al Anbar Province, which includes the insurgent strongholds of Fallouja and Ramadi. It houses about 17,000 troops, including a large contingent of Marines.

Spending: Unknown*

Bush 2006 request: $46.3 million

2. Balad air base

The U.S. military's main air transportation and supply hub in Iraq, with two giant runways. Also known as Camp Anaconda, it is the largest support base in the country, with about 22,500 troops and several thousand contractors.

Spending: $228.7 million*

Bush 2006 request: $17.8 million.

3. Camp Taji

One of the largest facilities for U.S. ground forces in Iraq, the base also serves as home to about 15,000 Iraqi security forces. It has the largest military shopping center (PX) in the country.

Spending: $49.6 million*

Bush 2006 request: None

4. Tallil air base

An increasingly important air and transportation hub, with a growing population of coalition troops and contractors. It has become a key stopping point for supply convoys moving north from Kuwait and is close to one of the Iraqi army's main training facilities.

Spending: $10.8 million*

Bush 2006 request: $110.3 million

--

Sooner or later, American Democratic leadership is going to have to admit the obvious to the American people....that America is in Iraq, in a big way, for the long term. I happen to think it an insult to people's intelligence to call for wholesale troop withdrawal, especially from those government officials running for President and basing their candidacy on public appeals for said withdrawal.
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