How big is the Green Zone? It is 4.5 square miles. Look here to see a comparison to the Minnesota Twin Cities.
From Talking Points Memo:
By saying that Korea is the model for the US military presence in Iraq, the president is saying that he envisions the US military presence in Iraq continuing for many decades into the future.
Or let’s put that in more stark terms, for most of you reading this post, the president envisions US troops remaining in Iraq long after you’re dead. (emphasis mine)
Also reader DS at TPM points out:
I have believed, from the beginning – though I have always hoped to be proven wrong – that the Bush White House (i.e. Cheney) has had as its principal goal in Iraq the establishment of a permanent military presence in that country. . . . (for) energy security and therefore the control of energy supplies. This means control of the flow of oil from the Middle East.
. . .
Cheney, in particular, is vicious enough to contemplate a long-term presence at the cost of a daily toll in the dozens or hundreds as well as ongoing domestic opposition.
. . . there’s only one goal that makes sense of that strategy. And that is to permanently dominate the cluster of oil fields in southern Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Nothing to do with democracy, as though that needed saying. But also nothing to do with terrorism. We’re permanently occupying Iraq to lock down the world oil supply.
But all that is commentary. The headline is clear enough to get the message out: the president wants US troops in Iraq for decades to come.
We have had this information around for awhile. Two years ago, in June 2005, I read in Baghdad Burning about how the Green Zone was being built as permanent city:
What people find particularly frustrating is the fact that while Baghdad seems to be falling apart in so many ways with roads broken and pitted, buildings blasted and burnt out and residential areas often swimming in sewage, the Green Zone is flourishing.
. . .
The price of building materials has gone up unbelievably, in spite of the fact that major reconstruction has not yet begun. I assumed it was because so much of the concrete and other building materials was going to reinforce the restricted areas. A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor who takes projects inside of the Green Zone explained that it was more than that. The Green Zone, he told us, is a city in itself. He came back awed, and more than a little bit upset. He talked of designs and plans being made for everything from the future US Embassy and the housing complex that will surround it, to restaurants, shops, fitness centers, gasoline stations, constant electricity and water- a virtual country inside of a country with its own rules, regulations and government. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone, also known as the Green Republic.
. . .
. . . if you could see the bases they are planning to build- if you could see what already has been built- you’d know that they are going to be here for quite a while.
The Green Zone is a source of consternation and aggravation for the typical Iraqi. It makes us anxious because it symbolises the heart of the occupation and if fortifications and barricades are any indicator- the occupation is going to be here for a long time. It is a provocation because no matter how anyone tries to explain or justify it, it is like a slap in the face. It tells us that while we are citizens in our own country, our comings and goings are restricted because portions of the country no longer belong to its people. They belong to the people living in the Green Republic.
Then recently I read in Firedoglake:
The $592 million embassy occupies a chunk of prime real estate two-thirds the size of Washington’s National Mall, with desk space for about 1,000 people behind high, blast-resistant walls.
. . . we are building a huge, permanent infrastructure in Iraq. We are putting in the latest equipment, and it is not there to support some temporary military presence. What’s going up is not something to be taken down and removed when our troops withdraw or respond to some uncertain Congressional appropriation. And the facilities that are being constructed, and the way they are being linked, indicate a more or less permanent military presence.
We’re spending billions upon billions on this, and it’s not slowing down. My friend has been there three times, and each time he goes back, he marvels at the tremendous change — in how much more there is now than there was last time. Much more sophisticated; more permanent.
Dick Cheney and his ilk think we can wait them out (even though they live there!) as long as the American public can be numbed to the ongoing death toll.
For example, you know that oil law the U.S. has been so hot and heavy to get the Iraqis to pass? It turns out that after months of massaging, the text of the law doesn’t guarantee Western oil companies anything; it just doesn’t exclude the possibility that they may get some lucrative deals. Oh, and during those months, billions of dollars’ worth of oil is unaccounted for, with one of the prime suspects being the Shiite militias/political parties that make up the government. I don’t think they’re about to pass a law that gives them a worse deal than what they’re getting off the books now.
The Americans aren’t the only ones who can play realpolitik, you know.