Vote to Block Funding for Permanent Bases in Iraq

March 20th, 2006 - by admin

Rep. Barbara Lee / – 2006-03-20 08:29:07

Barbara Lee Amendment on Permanent Bases
Approved in Debate on Iraq War Supplemental Spending Bill

Congresswoman Barbara Lee / t r u t h o u t

WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2006) — Today, during debate on the to an emergency spending bill for the War in Iraq, the House approved an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) that will prohibit the use of funds to enter in to basing agreements that would lead to a permanent military presence in Iraq.

The amendment to H.R.4939, the administration’s $91 billion supplemental request for Iraq, Afghanistan and Katrina relief, was approved by a voice vote. Lee, who last year introduced H.Con.Res. 197, to make it “the policy of the United States not to enter into any base agreement with the Government of Iraq that would lead to a permanent United States military presence in Iraq,” gave the following statement on the House floor:

“This amendment is not about the war, though I offered an alternative to keep us out of Iraq. This amendment is not about bringing our troops home, though I believe we should. This amendment is not about holding the President accountable for misleading us into an unjust and unnecessary war, though we should.

“Mr. Chairman, the amendment we are offering is very simple: it would provide that no funds be used under this bill to enter into military base agreements between the US and Iraq. Stating this will clearly indicate that the US has no intention of making military bases permanent.

“Mr. Chairman, can’t we all agree – right here and right now – that we should not be in Iraq permanently. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the administration’s position is unclear.

Mr. Chairman, the President shares our view and has said as much. April 13, 2004 the President said, ‘as a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America.’

“But just yesterday, General John Abazaid, the Army general in charge of the US troops in Iraq, told the House Defense Appropriations committee that the US could end up having permanent bases in Iraq.

“Mr. Chairman, we need to be clear. The aim of our amendment is to simply codify the sentiment that the President, many of our constituents, and many of us strongly believe.

“As we stand here today, the United States has renewed a bombing campaign against the insurgents; the largest assault since the invasion. And this is taking us in the exact wrong direction. Destroying villages in the hopes of routing out insurgents will only create more.

“In adopting this amendment we can take the target off our troops’ backs by sending a strong and immediate signal to the Iraqi people, the insurgents, and the international community that the United States has no designs on Iraq.

“Mr. Chairman, this very point is supported by a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) earlier this year. PIPA found that 76 percent of Iraqi’s believe that US will maintain bases in Iraq permanently, even if the newly elected government asks the US to leave Iraq.

“Congress needs to be on record. We must not have permanent military bases in Iraq.”

Abizaid says US May Want to Keep Bases in Iraq
Vicki Allen / Reuters

WASHINGTON (March 15, 2006) — The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect the flow of oil, the Army general overseeing US military operations in Iraq said on Tuesday.

While the Bush administration has downplayed prospects for permanent US bases in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid told a House of Representatives subcommittee he could not rule that out.

Abizaid said that policy would be worked out with a unified, national Iraqi government if and when that is established, “and it would be premature for me to predict.”

Many Democrats have pressed President George W. Bush to firmly state that the United States does not intend to seek permanent military bases in Iraq, a step they said would help stem the violence there.

Abizaid also told the Appropriations subcommittee on military quality of life that while an Iraqi civil war was possible, “I think it’s a long way from where we are now to civil war.”

Echoing Bush’s statement on Monday on the outlook for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq, Abizaid said if Iraqis can form a unified government, “I think there’s every reason to believe … that we’ll be able to bring the size of the force down much more so by December of ’06.”

Abizaid cited the need to fight al Qaeda and other extremists groups and “the need to be able to deter ambitions of an expansionistic Iran” as potential reasons to keep some level of troops in the region in the long term.

But he said it would be far less than the 200,000 currently deployed in the region, including 132,000 in Iraq.

“Clearly our long-term vision for a military presence in the region requires a robust counter-terrorist capability,” Abizaid said. “No doubt there is a need for some presence in the region over time primarily to help people help themselves through this period of extremists versus moderates.”

Abizaid also said the United States and its allies have a vital interest in the oil-rich region.

“Ultimately it comes down to the free flow of goods and resources on which the prosperity of our own nation and everybody else in the world depend,” he said.

Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, questioned “what kind of signal that sends to the American people and to the Iraqis and the region … if somehow there is ambiguity on our ultimate designs in terms of a military presence in Iraq.”

Rep. Jane Harman of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, in a letter to Bush last week said his “continuing failure to clarify US intentions provides an excuse for certain Iraqis to avoid compromise and jeopardizes our ability to succeed in Iraq.”

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