Don't Allow Iraq to Become Another South Korea
The White House press secretary announced this week that President Bush wants to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq similar to the half-century long U.S. military role in South Korea. This public acknowledgement confirms what we at FCNL have long suspected: President Bush wants to establish a permanent military presence in Iraq.
A Violation of Law and Reality
Establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq would be a violation of U.S. law -- Congress has twice passed, and the president has signed, legislation which prohibits the U.S. from spending money to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. That is the law, at least for now. Originally proposed by FCNL, your grassroots lobbying made that provision the law.
The White House announcement that this administration wants to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq also reaffirms that this administration is simply not prepared to acknowledge the reality of what is happening in Iraq. The impression among Iraqis that the U.S. is planning a permanent military occupation of their country feeds the violent groups fighting the Iraqi government, helps them to recruit fighters, and undermines U.S. credibility throughout the Middle East region. Almost every opinion poll conducted in Iraq in the last three years -- including one commissioned by the State Department -- has confirmed that a majority of Iraqis fear the U.S. plans to permanently occupy their country, and majorities want the U.S. to leave Iraq.
The White House announcement, by itself, could further destabilize Iraq and the region, by setting off a new wave of anti-government violence; it could recruit more supporters for violent extremist groups such as Al Qaeda.
Write your senators today:
Ask them to condemn the White House proposal for South Korean-style permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq and to pass legislation to establish a new U.S. policy in Iraq to stabilize Iraq by ending the occupation. Urge your senators to support bipartisan legislation to require the U.S. to engage in diplomatic talks to end the war and set a date for withdrawal of U.S. forces.
FCNL first proposed legislation to prohibit the U.S. from establishing permanent military bases in Iraq at the beginning of 2005. After nearly two years of lobbying, Congress passed legislation in the fall of 2006 which prohibits the U.S. from spending money to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.
The emergency supplemental funding bill providing $100 billion in additional money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also contained a ban on permanent U.S. military bases. But, as that legislation was being debated in the House, Rep. Steve King (IA) offered an amendment which would have essentially lifted the ban on permanent bases -- that amendment failed by a vote of 219 to 201. But the White House announcement suggests the administration may ask its allies in Congress may make another effort to lift the ban on permanent bases.
This announcement may also be timed by some in the White House to undermine a growing consensus here in Washington that the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group recommendations for a political solution through internal and regional diplomacy is an alternative to the escalation of the U.S. war.
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