William Astore and Tom Engelhardt
Campaign For Liberty
Campaign For Liberty
Some words have a way of enduring. Take “endure.” As the Bush administration headed into Iraq in the spring of 2003, the Pentagon already had plans on the drawing board to build at least four gigantic American bases in that country and garrison them for the long haul. But when questioned on the subject, administration officials and spokespeople were eager to avoidlinking the word “permanent” to those as-yet-unbuilt bases and so, for a while, referred to them instead as “enduring camps,” a phrase that had a certain charm and none of the ominous overtones of “permanent base.” In the end, of course, more than four massive bases were builtand garrisoned. Given the slow American drawdown in that country, their fate remains unknown — and typically undiscussed in the U.S. — but as of this moment, they still “endure” and, huge as they are, they couldn’t look more permanent.
According to an agreement signed at the end of George W. Bush’s second term, all American “combat troops” are to be withdrawn from Iraq by this August, hence the U.S. military is planning to relabel any post-August “combat operations” as “stability operations.” Think of that as linguistic “endurance.” In the same spirit, all U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but as Tim Arango of the New York Times noted recently, “[F]ew believe that America’s military involvement in Iraq will end then. The conventional wisdom among military officers, diplomats, and Iraqi officials is that after a new government is formed, talks will begin about a longer-term American troop presence. ‘I like to say that in Iraq, the only thing Americans know for certain, is that we know nothing for certain,’ said Brett H. McGurk, a former National Security Council official in Iraq and current fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. ‘The exception is what’s coming once there’s a new government: they will ask to amend the Security Agreement and extend the 2011 date. We should take that request seriously.’”