Saturday, June 24, 2006

Q&A with Dahr Jamail on the Coverage of the Iraq War

We are now heating up for mid-term elections that will be taking place in November. A number of people are using this as their platform to aspire to become the next Commander-in-Chief. Hillary Clinton has stated that she is disappointed with Bush's handling of the war. But yet she is still proud to support the war, proud that she voted for it, and she stated that she is also against a timeline for pulling out. Are we beginning to see the formation of a new South Korea being set up in Iraq?

Well, we already have it. We can bypass the word "beginning" because, as we speak, we have a U.S. so-called "boot city" being constructed. I say "so-called" because it is an embassy that's going to house 8,000 government employees. It's an embassy of 21 buildings with a school there. So what kind of embassy would be built for that many people with a first-run movie theater; the largest swimming pool in the country; a vehicle maintenance garage; and when it's complete, it's going to be two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington D.C.

That's just the embassy being constructed in Baghdad. Then we have a bare minimum of six of these permanent bases, on up to as many as 14 that are absolutely massive. They're larger than, some of them much larger than, camp Bondsteele, which is in Kosovo, which prior to Iraq was the largest U.S. military installation not on U.S. soil. And the bases in Baghdad are much larger than that.

You have a base like Camp Anaconda for example, in Ballad, just outside of Baghdad, a little bit to the northeast of Baghdad. And this one base by itself has 20,000 soldiers, fewer than 1,000 of whom never leave the base whatsoever. It has 250 of its own aircraft. It has its own first-run movie theaters, swimming pools, a Hertz Rental Car Agency, Popeye's Fried Chicken, a 24-hour Burger King, a Subway sandwich shop, a Starbuck's Coffee outlet. So, this is the type of base being built in Iraq. They are being constructed by Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old company, and this base in particular has so many Kellogg, Brown, and Root employees that they have they're own little apartment area there called "KBR Land."

So that's just one base to give you an idea that the situation is permanent. You are correct to say that rather than troops being withdrawn from Iraq we actually, less than two weeks ago, had 1,500 more troops sent into Iraq from Kuwait. So the troops are going in the wrong direction. I think they would like to see a drawdown in the number of troops down to something like we have in Afghanistan now, but that is a very big number if we talk about drawing down troops vs. a total withdrawal.

This administration -- and I think any Democrat of the ilk of Hillary Clinton or Joe Lieberman or someone like that -- they have absolutely no plans whatsoever of a total withdrawal from Iraq.