OK, let's try to keep up here. Here's the original plan (all emphasis added):
From the ashes of abandoned Iraqi army bases, U.S. military engineers are overseeing the building of an enhanced system of American bases designed to last for years.
Last year, as troops poured over the Kuwait border to invade Iraq, the U.S. military set up at least 120 forward operating bases. Then came hundreds of expeditionary and temporary bases that were to last between six months and a year for tactical operations while providing soldiers with such comforts as e-mail and Internet access.
Now U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases," long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years. The bases also would be key outposts for Bush administration policy advisers.
Well, maybe not, according to recent developments:
Senate appropriators this week said the United States should not establish permanent military bases in Iraq and cut millions of dollars in funding for long-term military construction projects from the emergency supplemental funding bill. The Senate Appropriation Committee action on Tuesday follows a vote by the House last month to prohibit the use of new funds to enter into basing rights agreements with the government of Iraq...
Trotochaud welcomed the Senate Appropriations Committee declaration, written into the language of a report accompanying the $107 billion emergency supplemental funding legislation, that states, "It is the current policy of the United States to establish no permanent military bases in Iraq."
Hang on, though ... we're not done here yet:
For example, SOCOM has dispatched small teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to U.S. embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where they do operational planning and intelligence gathering to enhance the ability to conduct military operations where the United States is not at war.
And what's my point? How about this?
Cost of the [new U.S. embassy in Iraq]: $US592 million
Land involved: 42 hectares
Security wall: 3 meters thick
Construction workers: Kuwaiti contractor who employs only foreign workers
Facilities: "the biggest swimming pool in Iraq, a gymnasium, a cinema, restaurants offering delicacies from US food chains, tennis courts and a swish American Club for functions."
So who needs a "permanent base" when you have one of those suckers, out of which you're prepared to do military planning? A military base by any other name, and all that.
Of course, one can always just be as cynical as Atrios here:
The Senate can pass as many amendments as they want but if Bush decides that we need permanent bases in Iraq he'll build them. He's claimed that authority. Congress can continue to participate in the sham that Bush thinks he needs to abide by their laws or they can do something about it.
It's days like this when I realize that, no matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.