Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Iraq, Vietnam all over again?

In Permanent bases in Iraq? Tom Engelhardt suggests we interpret Iraq as Vietnam.  Iraq is a worsening situation, where it's hard to see any face-saving exit from the country and where the population is increasingly rising up against the American presence.  Plus, at home there's a growing anger over this war.  I don't know what's taken the American people so long, the war is clearly illegal and immoral.

Engelhardt's main point of discussion is to contrast the plan for troop reductions with a fact "on the ground".  Namely the presence of the permanent bases that have been constructed, which cost several billion dollars.  An army engineer tasked with facilities development described them in an engineering magazine article with "staggering" cost.  If the plan is to withdraw, then why spend billions of dollars on bases?

One of the bases has finally been discussed in the mainstream press as having a "small town feel".  It has all the comforts of home, extensive telecom and other infrastructure, etc.  And in the London Telegraph is another covering the still-under-construction al-Asad airbase.  Apparently each of these bases cover 15-20 square miles of land.  There are at least four of these bases in Iraq and the fact we're stating this as "at least" is a symptom of the secrecy.