Gary Hart: Out of Iraq…by 2055


For many months, at least since President George W. Bush announced that we would “stand down” in Iraq as quickly as the Iraqis “stand up”, it has been a puzzle as to why we were building permanent military bases in Iraq if “standing down” meant, as most Americans assumed, getting out–withdrawing our troops.
The British occupied the newly-formed Iraqi nation from 1920 until at least 1948, a mere 28 years. Within a few years after their withdrawal, required by British public opinion, the Baathist party and Saddam Hussein took over and governed, often with our assistance (including during the Iraq-Iran war), until 2003.
If we are planning a long-term occupancy in Iraq, shouldn’t the American people be told? Our government is spending billions of our tax dollars building permanent bases that it will not publicly admit are being built. That is because our leaders do not want to confess that “standing down” merely means withdrawing to garrisons outside the troubled urban areas that we cannot seem ever to pacify.
Why not?, you may ask. Why not is because this was the French strategy in Indochina, the British strategy in Iraq and other possessions and occupancies, and a number of other colonial powers in a last-ditch effort to retain a foot hold in their possessions. In every case, they failed. The garrison, or fort if you will, simply became a big, fat, tempting target for insurgents who refuse to accept token relocation as a substitute for genuine withdrawal from the nation’s territory.
In a government envisioned by James Madison, the Congress, a branch of government equal to the executive, would be asking questions about our strategy of stealth. But this Congress is Madison’s worst nightmare–quiescent, passive, emasculated, rubber stamp, and totally abandoning its Constitutional duty of oversight of the executive. The current Congress resembles most the Duma in the Soviet era.
It is quite simple. An enterprising reporter (remember those?) or a member of the Republican majority in Congess simply asks this question: “Mr. President, are we, or are we not, building permanent military bases in Iraq, and, if so, why are we doing that if you are telling the truth about the U.S. withdrawing its troops?”
It is probably best if you do not hold your breath waiting for this question…or for the answer.
— Gary Hart
Kittredge, Colorado


15 comments on “Gary Hart: Out of Iraq…by 2055

  1. Hydrocodone says:

    Welcome to Great Blog here!


  2. Duane Burghard says:

    Not to be completely cheesy here, but anyone wanting to support a candidate running for the US House this year who is a former US Navy Officer, businessman and community leader (whose already been endorsed by VetPAC, the UAW and more) and who completely agrees that we should STOP construction of these permanent military bases (a move which will also hopefully serve to weaken support for the insurgency and thus make it easier to draw down troops faster) … is strongly encouraged and invited to visit our site at The incumbent, according to, has voted with Bush over 90% o the time (98% in 2003) and chaired the Bush Cheney re-election campaign in 2004. His support, according to a $15K poll done for the DCCC by Anzalone before this cycle, is soft and shallow. He has survived on weak opponents. Help save our Republic and restore our Congress to its Constitutionally mandated responsibility of serving as a check to runaway Executive power. All we need to win is you and your support.


  3. Ron Mitchell II says:

    OUT BY 2055?? What, we’re leaving early???
    They start wars on lies, force book outlets to stop selling “America Deceived”, gag Ernst Zundel and cage protestors. We’re never leaving Iraq until every 18-35 year old is dead.
    Last link before Google Books capitulates:


  4. Zathras says:

    Given how American military bases are traditionally put together the difference between a temporary base and a permanent one may be a little hard to define. Perhaps Gary Hart should be a little more specific.
    It might enhance his credibility as well, as someone who was somewhat soft on Communism during his early political career, if he would acknowledge that Iraq under the Baathists was a Soviet client, not an American one. It was somewhere between a serious problem and an annoying nuisance to American policymakers for most of that period, until the advent of homicidal Khomeini regime in Iran and the prospect of its coming to dominate the Persian Gulf prompted a brief, and very limited, alliance of convenience during the Reagan administration — one that never involved American support for Saddam’s domestic means of control, which in fact needed none.
    I know Hart is aware of the history, and may even acknowledge it someday. I won’t hold my breath for that, though.


  5. Jon Stopa says:

    Maybe its just that the builders have contracts to fulfill. Can’t cancel those. It’s money, you know!


  6. netro says:

    An enterprising reporter (remember those?) or a member of the Republican majority in Congess simply asks this question: “Mr. President, are we, or are we not, building permanent military bases in Iraq…”
    The word “permanent” leaves too much wiggle room. Bush would flatly deny it, and when the bases eventually fall he can say, in all truthiness, “See? I told you they weren’t permanent!”
    But seriously, you have to ask questions of these people with something approaching legal precision. Is Stonehenge considered permanent by people who believe that they may be “raptured” to Heaven at any moment? No. Are the pyramids? No. Anything built by Halliburton on a no-bid contract? Dust to dust, baby.
    Reporters need to start assuming that they will be punked on any question that isn’t rigorously stated. As for “the Republican majority in Congress” — being punked has become a (lucrative) way of life. There’s a word for that. It starts with “W”.


  7. Bud says:

    Well, thanks for writing what I have been thinking for a very long time. I have lived in the Middle East region for the last six years, and the question of permanent bases and permanent U.S. hegemony is on the mind of virtually everyone (Arabs, Persians, Africans, etc.). What can Americans be thinking? Is everthing short-term: who will win the next sports playoff?


  8. Carroll says:

    Very good Cotterperson..
    I had seen the AP story some time ago and don’t see how anyone can doubt we are there to stay…
    It should make us all wonder why NO ONE IN CONGRESS has said a peep about it…huummm???
    Every day we sit here waiting for the next election or some “insiders” to save us is a day closer to the cliffs edge.


  9. burro says:

    This is indeed the turd in the punchbowl. Billions are being spent to guarantee a very significant American presence in Iraq. That presence is being talked past with a vengence. The media and congress willfully blind themselves to this reeking reality and talk about timetables and democratic Iraqi governments like they are relevant topics. The United States of America is awash in a tsunami of bullshit and the rest of the world looks upon us like they would a moron holding a loaded assault weapon with a hair trigger.
    Our corporate players in Iraq must be protected and the new corporate mercenary armies must be provided with an ongoing purpose.
    There is more than a hint of insanity involved in catapulting the propaganda of standing down and leaving Iraq while at the same time building infrastructure that is far beyond Quonset huts. It’s like the question is too scary to ask because too many people know we’re going to choke on the answer. It’s time to air this sucker out. It’s crazy to go on wasting lives, money and whatever credibility this country has left just to avoid admitting that America was stupid enough to try crossing the train tracks while the crossing guard was down.
    The train’s horn is blowing like hell. The crossing bells are ringing madly. Turning up the damn radio to drown out the noise isn’t the answer.


  10. cotterperson says:

    Thanks to Senator Hart for raising the question. The question of our leaving is apparently moot. Why are current senators not speaking out?
    Permanent bases have been reported recently without much fanfare.
    Chicago Tribune March 23, 2004
    14 `enduring bases’ set in Iraq
    Long-term military presence planned
    Iraqis Think U.S. in Their Nation to Stay
    By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent Mon Mar 20, 4:30 PM ET
    *BALAD AIR BASE*, Iraq – The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States.
    At another giant base, *al-Asad* in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads.
    At a third hub down south, *Tallil*, they’re planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.
    AND (helping our friends, the Saudis?)
    U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 “enduring bases,” long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years. The bases also would be key outposts for Bush administration policy advisers.
    As the U.S. scales back its military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq provides an option for an administration eager to maintain a robust military presence in the Middle East ….
    “Is this a swap for the Saudi bases?” asked Army Brig. Gen. Robert Pollman, chief engineer for base construction in Iraq. “I don’t know. … When we talk about enduring bases here, we’re talking about the present operation, not in terms of America’s global strategic base. But this makes sense. It makes a lot of logical sense.” ….
    The policy has involved not just resorting to military action, or the threat of action, but constructing an arc of new facilities in such places as Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar and Djibouti that the Pentagon calls “lily pads.” They are seen not merely as a means of defending the host countries — the traditional Cold War role of such installations — but as jumping-off points for future “preventive wars” and military missions.


  11. bdnn says:

    senator hart — you inspire! i hope that many read this and start asking the right damned questions and DEMANDING answers.
    thank you for posting on the washington note. this is a great, informative blog.


  12. richard power says:

    The US mainstream news media carry the Bush/Cheney regime’s water on Iraq before, and it carries it even now. They do not even have to aks the question to his face, the punditocracy could simply start acknowledging it among themselves, but they won’t — because they are complicit. Unfortunately, so does much of the leadership of the Democratic Party. It is a disgrace. It was obvious, at least to anyone who took the time to read a few pages of “Program for a New American Century,” published in the 1990s and signed by all of them, that they never intended to leave Iraq. And those US senators from the other side of the aisle who lacked the political will to defy them with a no vote back when it mattered knew this then, as they probably also knew that there was a distinct possibility (if not a probability) that Hans Blix was right and that there were no WMD. Much more courage has been shown by Hagel, Scowcroft and others on the Republican side, including officials like Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson (both Republicans who they swift-boated), as well as principled resistance from Colonel Wilkerson (Powell’s top aide) and Gen. William Odom (Reagan’s NSA Director). Unlike these heroic individuals, almost all of the US mainsteam news media, and most of the opposition party’s congressional leadership (with the exception of Sen. Feingold (D-WI) and a few others, have failed the country, and the world. By the same is true on the issues of global warming, and the compromise of the electoral process within the USA.


  13. marika says:

    Has any reporter ever been able to question the President? We generally see some blue haired Granny thanking him for being President.
    It would seem this plan, the permanent bases to withdraw troups from Saudi Arabia, and the huge Embassy, was circulating well before the invasion, so if the Congress does not know about it, it is because they don’t want to know.
    Mr. Hart is so right. From day one the Congress betrayed their constituents and their duty. They surely know, though many when they speak would make one hesitate to ask for information if they were salesmen in a hardwware store.
    Even as they are frantically building in Iraq, it seems they work 24/24, the feasibility of the entire projet is taking on the air of a mirage in cement.
    Congress and the Press are now like toy soldiers, defending no one–most certainly not the constitution.


  14. vaughan says:

    No one has asked this yet? Outrageous!


  15. richard power says:

    The invasion and occupation of Iraq was never anything more than a foolsh military adventure based on a neo-con wet dream. The longer this debacle is perpetuated, the greater the danger. Look at what has happened in Afghanistan since this folly was forced on us by Bush-Cheney? Jack Murtha is right. Gary Hart is right. And yes, Pat Buchanan was right. Gary Hart continues to articulate a 360 degree vision of the global and national security crisis, and deliver a viable strategy for managing it. As a security professional, I strongly recommend his “The Shield and The Cloak: The Security of The Commons.” The Bush/Cheney cabal has a 19th Century view of the world, not a 21st Century view of the world.


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