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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Permanent Bases In Iraq

There’s been quite a buzz in the blogosphere and elsewhere recently about the likelihood that the Bush administration’s ultimate fallback goal in Iraq is to establish permanent U.S. military bases, as a sort of shriveled imperial booby-prize for our disastrous policies towards that country. Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED has a good summary of the latest talk. You’d think that maybe this was an issue nobody had noticed until recently. But I happen to remember that clearly and publicly abandoning any intention to set up permanent bases was one of the major recommendations made by Larry Diamond (an original opponent of the Iraq War, but whose unhappy service in the Provisional Coalition Authority made him suspect in some antiwar circles) in his 2005 book, Squandered Victory. As it happens, the DLC endorsed that position–not only opposing permanent bases, but making a clear, presidential renunciation of permanent bases a critical step in salvaging the disaster–at about the same time.I mention this very simply as a reminder of little-noticed Democratic unity on Iraq, obscured by the original decision to go to war; the more recent obsession with withdrawal deadlines; and the latest fight over troop funding and residual troop commitments after combat troops leave. The really big picture is that Republicans want to keep fighting this war and stay in Iraq forever; Democrats want to end the combat role very quickly and make it clear that any permanent military presence in Iraq is way out of bounds. Maybe that’s not everybody’s favorite way to draw the partisan lines on Iraq, but it’s a pretty clear line–the line between fighting a war and supporting a quick transition, and the line between soon and forever.

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