The Washington Monthly is back kicking around the unaskable question - will there be permanent U.S. bases in Iraq? The bloggers there have noted that, in the American media at least, the words "permanent", "bases" and "Iraq" must never appear in the same article, let alone the same sentence. However, the U.S. is set to build four super-bases anyway and it appears Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif) and other Democrats are going to try to make some political hay by bringing up the unaskable question at next week's debate on the war.
I can make it easy for them.
Of course there will be permanent bases. There will be bases for as long as the Iraqi military is incapable of facing an external security threat. No matter how well they might do against their own internal security problems, facing an external national threat needs things like planes with real guns and missiles on them, more than a couple dozen real modern tanks, some artillery, a command and control structure...etc.
As it stands right now, the tiny UAE air force could blow through the entire Iraqi military in one afternoon of "shock and awe". Let's not even think about the Syrians, Saudis, Iranians, Turks etc etc.
There are NO plans to provide any real military equipment to the Iraqi military at the present time and current plans reach out until 2010. Until there are such plans, the Iraqi military is a glorified paramilitary police force and permanent US bases to protect the nation against possible external aggression will be needed.
Welcome to the Satrapy of Iraq.
But that doesn't actually help the Democrats much. You see, none of their plans for Iraq have mentioned giving the Iraqis anything like a fully functional military either!
We're left, no matter which party is in charge, with a choice between staying to provide national defense against possible external national threats or an immoral abandonment of Iraq to the good natures of their various regional neighbours - damn few of whom seem to be at all good natured when it comes to a whole bunch of oil lying around with the doors unlocked.
Not incidentally, this lack of planning to replace what we destroyed during the invasion makes a mockery of any idea of Iraqi sovereignty - and the Iraqis have figured it out even if the American public hasn't. In every case, GOP or Dem, what we have is a plan for a Lebanon/Syria model, with the U.S. playing the Syrian role of permanent occupiers and steerers of the weaker nation.
A nation which must rely on another for every aspect of it's national defense (as opposed to internal security) is no nation at all - it is a client state. There are no plans to change that status. From either party.
I just wish both had the integrity to admit it.