Practically Permanent

Iraq rejects permanent U.S. bases: adviser

Once again the “permanent bases” story is publicly shot down:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq will never allow the United States to have permanent military bases on its soil, the government’s national security adviser said, calling the issue a “red line” that cannot be crossed.

“We need the United States in our war against terrorism, we need them to guard our border sometimes, we need them for economic support and we need them for diplomatic and political support,” Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said.

“But I say one thing, permanent forces or bases in Iraq for any foreign forces is a red line that cannot be accepted by any nationalist Iraqi,” he told Dubai-based al Arabiya television.

This isn’t really meaningful news. It’s all in the definition of “permanent”, you see. The United States is not about to announce that it plans to “permanently” station military forces in Iraq. Iraq is not about to announce that it wants US troops “permanently” based in Iraq. Those sorts of announcements don’t play well in any nation or with anyone’s citizens.

However, we should expect that the arrangement is going to be “practically permanent”, in the sense that they’re going to ask us to stay for a long, long time and we’re going to want to stay for a long, long time. Iraq is going to remain vulnerable to enemies inside and outside of its borders for quite some time, and the strategic location of the nation makes it very valuable territory to have.

I’ve said from day one that we’re going to have a long-term troop presence in Iraq of at least 50,000. The basing situation is going to be no more or less “permanent” than that in Korea or Germany.


  1. I don’t know from Korea, but in Germany it can have severe consequences on the local economy when US forces go away. Certain trades and merchants who came to rely on soldiers’ business for decades suddenly have to find something else to do. I wonder if Iraq will ever be stable enough to have that problem?