Obama has said in his policy statements that he’s going to bring troops home from Iraq without permanent bases there, but unless I’m wrong, there seems to be a great deal of wiggle room in his position:
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
But isn’t the U.S. Embassy there one of the largest in the Middle East and can’t “protecting” it amount to having a base in Iraq? Is this his wiggle room?
Also, if the U.S. supposedly “leaves” Iraq and then Al Qaeda sets up shop, we can simply reestablish a base in Iraq and/or carry out a targeted strike on AQ in what would be a sovereign nation?
When it comes to Iraq, the isssue of permanent bases will be the most significant difference between Obama and McCain. I just wonder if Obama’s being squirrely here.
And to be honest, if he is being squirrely, it doesn’t bother me one bit — it’s naive to assume that a) the U.S. can simply pull out of Iraq without any permanent (or Korea/Germany/Bosnia permanent) bases and besides, b) it would be foolish to lose the strategic benefit of having bases there in the first place. Why not just go with it? Pretend it’s a little good cop/bad cop . . .