Biden Amendment on Prohibiting Permanent Military Bases in Iraq Passes Senate
Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. Senate accepted an amendment by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) that would prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq and U.S. control of the country's oil. The provision is now part of the FY07 Defense Authorization bill passed by the Senate today.
Although American military and political leadership in Baghdad have said that the United States does not have plans for permanent bases in Iraq, senior administration officials in Washington have sent mixed messages. For example, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that the United States has no plans "at the present time" to establish permanent bases and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to categorically state U.S. policy at a recent hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In addition, columnist Helen Thomas asked White House press secretary Tony Snow just last Thursday to unambiguously declare that the United States will not seek permanent bases in Iraq. Again, Snow could not unequivocally declare the United States' position on permanent bases in Iraq.
"The Iraqi people remain suspicious of our intentions and are growing increasingly impatient, putting our men and women in uniform in greater danger," Biden said. "And Osama bin Laden and like-minded jihadists use the U.S. occupation' and their assertion that we aim to steal the region's oil as rallying cries in their regular calls to arms."
"I have no illusions that a single amendment will somehow change the dynamic of events on the ground," he said. "But I do believe that we have a duty to proclaim - and proclaim regularly and clearly - that we have no intention of either maintaining permanent American military bases in Iraq or controlling its oil. I urge my colleagues to support this provision in conference."
Sen. Biden offered a similar amendment to the FY06 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill last month. The Senate approved the measure, but it was subsequently removed by Republicans in conference.
According to a recent University of Maryland poll, 80% of Iraqis (and 92% of Sunni Arabs in Iraq) believe that the U.S. intends to have a permanent military presence in their country, thereby contributing to the violence against American military personnel.