« Turkey, the Kurds and the U.S. | Main | I want it, so it must be so.. »

09 June 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


It's about full spectrum dominance.

The two biggest strategic prizes remaining on this spinning globe are the oil reserves under Iraq and Iran's Khuzestan province, and the natural gas deposits under the Caspian Basin.

America will be out of the superpower game if those resources are not sold under the current Petrodollar system. If those assets are sold under other currencies, America loses its extreme advantage of providing the de facto global currency.

It ain't about the oil directly and specifically. It is about economic advantage between jostling superpowers. As Russia regains some of its former muscle on the world stage, and as China and India outpace and outperform the American economy, the Middle East will either remain an American sphere of influence, selling its dwindling energy assets under the dollar system, or it will become a Chinese, Russian, or Other empire's sphere of influence.

How serious is America's wealthy class about maintaining dominance over there?

Nuclear serious.


"They will see this as inherently anti-Islamic, a 'crusade' against their religion and Islamicate culture." PL

You say that like it's a BAD thing, but it is exactly the policy of the Cheney-Neocon-PNAC wing of the Republican Party. These are the people who have been driving U.S. foreign policy for 6 years. The average FOX News watcher thrives on this. George Bush got reelected with the votes of 3 million religious fanatics who BELIEVE in this crusade. If it leads to the destruction of civilization as we know it, well, the sooner we'll all be raptured into heaven. (Well, not you Col., because you're obviously not following the right script.)

Babak Makkinejad

Crusaders' Castle; a.k.a. Fort Apache.

FB Ali


Your assessment of this dangerous plan and its likely effects is quite correct. The only thing I would add is that it will further destabilize the US-friendly regimes in the area. The strong reaction among the peoples of the Middle East to this "colonial" military presence will extend towards the pro-US governments in the region. No Iraqi government that accepts these bases will ever acquire legitimacy among the Iraqi people. This will provide another rallying point for all the opponents of other such regimes.


This petrodollar stuff has never made a lick of sense to me. Switching from dollars to Euros would mean a one-off decline in demand for dollars.

That's all.

Also, if you haven't been paying attention, America has been trying its damndest to get China to stop buying treasury bills...ie. lowering the demand for american currency.

Jerry Thompson

This is not just a bad idea, it is a VERY bad idea. It is not just stupid, it is wrong-headed on a scale for which my vocabulary is inadequate. An Arabic word comes to mind, "waHshy" (transliteration doubtful), conveying a sense of "wild, savage, brutal" in the sense of unspeakable violence like that of a ferocious wild beast -- a lion or a wolf on a kill. It represents a complete turning away from "the idea of America" . If this doesn't bring us a confrontation with a nuclear Iran, and perhaps the Russians to boot, I can't imagine how to prevent it.

Martin K

American bases on top of the ruins of Babylon. Sounds like achristian nut-case conspiracy theory, or some variant of the Thule-societys expeditions to Antarctica and Tibet. Or a H.P. Lovecraft novel, for those of you familiar with that author.

On a serious side, I do not understand how you propose to hold on to defensive positions in hostile territories for a long stretch. It does not seem like a sustainable policy to me, and it indicates that either A) the effort to build bases is a yet another scam in order to shovel money to Haliburton, or B) The admin is genuienly naive and still believes in the theory of the "inner american" in all humans, who will thank you all for saving their country in the end , just like the movies. I wont contemplate C): That they are all waiting for the good lord Jesus to come any day now and make it all irrelevant.



Also it seen as 'Israeli expansion', and many view the U.S. as nothing more than an extension or vassal of what many consider as Israeli imperialism for eventual total Israeli control and rule of the entire Mideast.

Happy Jack

America will be out of the superpower game if those resources are not sold under the current Petrodollar system. If those assets are sold under other currencies, America loses its extreme advantage of providing the de facto global currency.

I would suggest reading this, or perhaps this. There is nothing preventing a country from converting their reserves to euros, even after the fact.


One thing that has long been clear to me regardingthe construction of htese bases is that they form their own argument for staying.

If we build these giant, fortified bases in strategically significant locations, then they become strategic assets. We then "cannot afford" to allow any party hostile to us to inherit them, thus we must stay in Iraq.

The construction of these bases is about making it harder to leave. Why do we want to be there in the fisrt place? Because some historically ignorant (in both senses) fools want us to be universally acknowledged as a global imperial power.


I do not actually think it is a move to maintain the $s supremacy. After all what benefit would an oil market priced in Euros be to the Chinese? How are they going to be able to pay for their oil addiction with a pile of $'s that continues to fall in value?

While for the Russkies, again what is the point in joining any Iranian inspired Euro denominated oil market? At some point that will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, when the USA drags the rest of the world into a '30s style slump.

Presumably these competing oil suppliers/consumers have learned the lessons that the Arabs did in the mid 70s, that you screw with global oil market to your own long term economic/political disadvantage.

The only monetary loser here will be the good old US tax payer. It will fund the construction of these bases, without being told that they are only viable with a mega Berlin style airlift for everyone. This is just another example of the vapidity of thought that dominates the current US political class (and that includes Hillary, not just dumb Georgie, who too is keen to fund a stay behind presence).

Duncan Kinder


I'd be interested in your viewpoint of the current labor unrest in Basra.

It seems that besides IED's Iraqis - and the Mideast street generally - have other, heretofore unexplored, tools to asert their displeasure with the Bush administrations apparent plans for their future.


"Altogether, it is difficult to see what the point would be in establishing such bases."

Don't we have hundreds of bases established worldwide? Isn't Iraq in the zone of instability? Isn't Iraq the "central front in the war on terror?" Don't all of America's problems stem from our failure to deter those nations who would seek to be a rival in a unipolar world?

Given this logic, bases make a lot of sense. But then to have a compliant Iraqi government, which was part of the original goal (Chalabi), giving us basing rights and handing out favorable contracts to certain corporations would certainly be a nice dessert if not the center of the creamy nugget in a country with huge oil reserves. Wouldn't it be advantageous for us to be able to supplant OPEC by controlling the Iraqi oil spigot?

But wait there's more: we could guarantee Israel's security by putting Iran and Syria in a box. And in so doing, a Pax Americana would be established which would lead to an unbridled time of wealth creation.

Clearly, the advantages of going to war with Iraq far outweighed any supposed disadvantages. It was a no brainer.

Col. Lang, it does seem to me that the control of Iraqi oil spigot in a time of oil being priced by the marginal barrel, would be a significant advantage. I see oil as the lynch pin that has held and will continue to hold the logic of Iraqi gambit together.


Mr Lang,
I have a question in reference to your thread You want to leave who behind?. There you argued that after a partial withdrawal the remaining US assets would be at a greater risk than with the troops available now. I understand that as meaning either complete withdrawal, but no underdone 'compromises'. Correct?

In the Kurdistan thread you mentioned that the US are a de-facto regional power now and have to accept their responsibility - to mediate a 'Concert of the Middle East', or stay? Do you see a US military presence there as necessary? Wouldn't US influence be served better, cheaper, non-provocative by diplomacy, that is, more subtle embassies than the 'Baghdad Citadel'?

If it is about the latter that would imply permanent bases. How can permant bases be considered viable, when US presence in Iraq is opposed by about anybody but the Kurds, and even by them only as long and insofar as the US serve their romantic nationlism. The notion that the Mesopotamians will eventually come to accept the US having a legitimate presence in Iraq strikes me as delusional.

Having read Pape's The strategic logic of suicide terrorism I wonder if a permanent US presence does more harm than good. Do you see the 'offshore ballancing' he proposes as a viable alternative?


I imagine that the point of such bases, as per the original conception, was that in conjunction with a friendly Iraqi government giving carte blanche usage of facilities and airspace, and the showers of sweets and flowers of shiny happy Iraqis holding hands with America, they would be useful in projecting military power/threats of force/ political leverage throughout the region - ie against Iran, Syria, Hizbullah etc.

Whilst this scenario has not survived first contact with reality, there still seems to be some hope that the Iraq reality can be re-engineered into a less inconvenient configuration than currently obtains.

The question that has as yet to be asked ( and which I have no idea how to answer ) is, given the entropy trap that the US military is now stuck in, what is the minimum garrison level required for it to sustain itself in Iraq without progressively heading towards a collapse of some description?

stanley Henning

I'm speechless. we appear to be heading to the brink.


Okay, I'm no expert, but the reason for the bases is one word:


Zionist domination of American politics is at its zenith. We have editorials in the Wall Street Journal calling on Americans to sacrifice their only sons in the fight against "Islamofascism" that oh so convenient conflation of Hitler and the Arab world. A call for a "reverse Passover" if you will.

The United States has become the 51st State of Israel.

That is the reason for the bases: young American men and women are now Israel's Hessians.

Got A Watch

Spot on analysis Col. But if it is obvious to us, why is it so difficult for Washington insiders to perceive the plain facts in front of their face?

Antifa - your rhetoric sounds good, but it is way behind the facts on the ground. America has already lost the "Great Game" for Central Asian oil, and the "PetroDollar" system is collapsing.

Refer to Asia Times Online, where many quality writers have published articles in the last few years recounting how the US loses every time, totally out-maneuvered by Russia and China, when trying to get the oil out of Central Asia. I can supply some links, but the works of W. Joseph Stroupe (http://geostrategymap.com/) and F. William Engdahl are prime examples of coldly realistic assessments of how the Great Game was lost. As we discuss it now, the oil is flowing to Russia and then mostly east to China. The Russians and Chinese own the pipelines and a lot of the oilfields, and have little interest in selling any of that oil to the USA.

As for the "PetroDollar System", that quaint concept is crumbling daily, often led by "allies" of America. Today, Iran, Venezuela and Russia are switching all oil exports over to their native currencies or Euros. Norway has been sellling all their production in Euros for years. The others listed above have around half of their oil exports priced in non $ now, and will get to 100% eventually. Gulf oil producers are bailing out of the $, Kuwait has gone, UAE looks next, the rest will be there soon. Saudi will be last, but when they look around and see all their neighbors are not $ based any more, they will wonder why they should remain the last hold-out. Despite massive American arm-twisting, you can be sure.

And if the American oligopolists are "elite", their IQ credentials need to be examined, and their lofty position re-evaluated. They have led America to the brink of long-term strategic disaster, and probably guaranteed that they won't get to burn any of that oil they profess to be so concerned about.

The complete idiocy of chasing control of a diminishing resource that will be pretty much exhausted in 15-20 years - Middle East oil - is not even considered. If America had put the amount of money wasted on the Iraq adventure into alternative, renewable and efficiencey technologies, the USA could be the world leaders in this field, and exporting the equipment to many nations. That position has been ceded to Germany and other Euro nations, and even China is now entering the alt/green industry sector.

America could thus have been well-positioned to weather the declining-production phase of the Oil Age, popularily known as Peak Oil. It IS happening right now, and the implications for a non-prepared America are profound.

Real leadership means planning for what can be actually accomplished, not placing all your bets on delusional fantasy. Ron Paul has it exactly right, which is why he is attacked or ignored by the MSM, his ideas are deadly poison to a naked Imperial America.

Cold War Zoomie

Time for another post straight outta my hind quarters while I wait for the missus to leave before I crank up the stereo to "11" and clean the house...

My guess is that these guys are bound and determined to show that we aren't going to skedaddle like we did in Vietnam, Beirut and other smaller terrorist strikes. Nope, this time we're fighting for the long term - until the other side peters out - hell or high water.

If they know their history, they probably have studied how we dealt with the Barbary pirates when we were a fledgling nobody and based their entire foreign policy on that.

Barbary Wars

Almost everyone running the show today conveniently missed service during Vietnam. I think they came up with their own list of mistakes made back then and decided to show the world that we are still top dog by invading Iraq the "right" way. To show the world that Vietnam was a one-time clusterf*ck screwed up by incompetent politicians.

Nope, this time The Executive is going to run the show 100%. No draft. No higher taxes. No meddling from Congress. No open news reporting. No draped coffins on the nightly news. No more "failed ME policies" from the last 60 years leading to "false choices."

We'll go in there and show the world what we can really do and negate Vietnam, Beirut, the USS Cole, the first World Trade towers attack, and all the other smaller terrorist attacks we supposedly ignored. It’ll be like the golden years right after WWII all over again, but without the Soviet Union holding us back.

Of course, everyone is seeing the limits of our power now and it’s only making matters worse! Everyone’s seeing us fail. So we definitely cannot leave now within this logic.

If it's not about economic interests, then that's my guess and I'm sticking to it! (Well, until next week when I change my mind for the umpteenth time.)

W. Patrick Lang


I presume that most of what you have said here is ironic.

Yes. We have a lot of bases but they are not in active war zones. To maintain numerous big installations in actively hostile territory amidst paeoples skilled in irregular warfare is a vast and ominous undertaking.

Does it seem to you that Iran and Syria are "in a box?"

You think that the price per barrel of oil can be controlled by opening and closing "the spigot" on Iraqi oil? Even if that were possible economically, do you see any prospect of being able to do that ant time soon considering the combat situation?

Robert A. Seeley

Permanent bases in Iraq is an idea that is beyond bad. I don't think the English language has strong enough words to characterize how wrong-headed it is. Very good analysis.

W. Patrick Lang


Yes. I would continue to argue that the maintenance of these bases will require a force just about as large as the present force when all requirements; combat, logistical, communications, transportation, etc. are taken into consideration. This, of course, is not MY solution. I still want my "Concert of the Middle East" solution applied.

Yes. Diplomacy is the answer, but that diplomacy must have some bargaining "weights" on the american side, the most important of which is the presence of our force until agreements are reached.

Whether or not the idea is delusional, it will probably be necessary to keep some military presence in the area to protect our embassy in the event of serious attack. If the Kurds want an american military presence, I can imagine that a US/Turkish agreement for an extended presence there could be reached. pl



Do you really think it will be feasible to protect the US embassy, assuming most of the rest of the force leaves? If so, would it be worth the effort? They already have to wear body armor in the green zone.

I've always imagined instead that this will end somewhat like Saigon in '75


To paraphrase Rummy, 'you go to war with the leaders you have.' In this case, the US leaders are backed by Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex.

Therefore, alternative energy and diplimacy are both seen as irrelevant, because they don't do anything to advance the selfish interests of this government's backers.

Big Oil and the MIC are not unhappy with the current situation, because profits are at all-time highs in the oil biz, and the MIC are like union guys for the war effort--all they have to do is show up and get paid.

US govt. policy decisions in the region, seem to be largely driven by the old saw 'Everything looks like a nail to a man whose only tool is a hammer,' and what seems to be brilliant idea in a Beltway drawing room over cocktails is wilting under the heat of the mideast sun.

To sum up, it seems that our current leadership is indeed a 'bag of hammers!

W. Patrick Lang


Baghdad is not like Saigon in those days. In Baghdad the enemy is already in the city and is likely to become more numerous in a crisis.

In Saigon there was a native force that at least slowed up the occupation of the city long enough for the fleet to evacuate people.

In Baghdad in a crisis it is easy to envision the embassy being immediately besieged by forces already in place.

What I am talking about is a force sufficent to effect and protect an evacuation. Baghdad is a long way from the sea. That means there have to be some forces on the ground somewhere nearby.

If you prefer to wait and see if the insurgents would massacre the embassy's personnel, I do not share your inclination. pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad