Since achieving majority control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats in Congress have forced 40 votes on bills limiting President Bush’s war policy. Only one bill was passed by both bodies and that was vetoed by Bush.
However, every one of the 40 bills contained a special section providing for a residual U.S. military force to remain in Iraq with no time limit to perform the military tasks U.S. forces are now doing. The exact wording is listed below.
While public opinion is dominated by opposition to this military adventure and by desire for withdrawal, few Americans read the fine print that allows continued occupation. Democratic office holders and presidential candidates do not discuss the details and agree on the maintenance of the residual force. And the media do not inform Americans about this key section.
In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal of November 12 writes, “U.S. digs in to guard Iraq oil exports. Long-term presence planned at Persian Gulf terminals viewed as vulnerable. While presidential candidates debate whether to start bringing ground troops home from Iraq, the new construction suggests that one footprint of U.S. military power in Iraq isn’t shrinking any time soon.”
Bill H.R. 4156, November 13, 2007
Title 1 – Policy on redeployment and conduct of operations in Iraq
Section 105 (e)
After the conclusion of the reduction in transition of the United States Armed Forces to a limited presence as required by this section, the Secretary of Defense may deploy or maintain members of the Armed Forces in Iraq only for the following missions:
1. Protecting United States diplomatic facilities, United States Armed Forces, and American citizens.
2. Conducting limited training, equipping, and providing logistical and intelligence support to the Iraqi Security forces.
3. Engaging in targeted counterterrorism operations against al- Qaeda, al- Qaeda affiliated groups, and other terrorist organizations in Iraq.
The activities listed in H.R. 4156 section 105 (e) essentially cover the current programs of the U.S. military in Iraq. These programs are now carried out by 162,000 troops. A continuation as specified in the bill would require approximately the same number of troops. Any reductions are likely to be token in size and cosmetic in purpose.
Given the importance to U.S. world hegemony of Middle East oil and gas reserves, protection of U.S. client states (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Israel), current construction of the U.S. embassy in Iraq (the largest in the world), the refusal of the leading Democratic candidates for president and the Democratic Congress to commit to full withdrawal, it is most likely that Iraq will have a permanent American garrison of considerable size for the indefinite future.