<\body> Stories in America: Welcome to Iraq, Would You Like Burger King or Pizza Hut?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Welcome to Iraq, Would You Like Burger King or Pizza Hut?

U.S. soldiers eat meals from Burger King, in al-Asad air base, 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, March 4, 2006. As the construction work goes on in full scale in Balad U.S. air base and handful of other installations, with Burger King and Pizza Hut already in, it is difficult to say weather U.S. forces in Iraq are here to stay for a short term or a long term. (AP Photo /Charles J. Hanley)

"We're pouring concrete. We're building little fiefdoms with security, moats, and walls. Eighty percent of Iraqis will grouse, but they have no political power. We'll stay whether they want us to or not."
-Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served in the office of the Secretary of Defense until spring 2003, in an interview with Mother Jones

In another enlightening press conference last week, Bush said it'll be up to future presidents to decided when to leave Iraq. Air Force mechanic Josh Remy was even more revealing in an interview with the AP. "I think we'll be here forever," said the 19-year-old. With easy access to Burger King and Pizza Hut, the Balad Air Base feels like home:
They've inherited an Olympic-sized pool and a chandeliered cinema from the Iraqis. They can order their favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor at ice cream counters in five dining halls, and cut-rate Fords, Chevys, or Harley-Davidsons, for delivery at home, at a PX-run ''dealership." On one recent evening, not far from a big 24-hour gym, airmen hustled up and down two full-length, lighted outdoor basketball courts as F-16 fighters thundered overhead.

''Balad's a fantastic base," Brigadier General Frank Gorenc, the Air Force's tactical commander in Iraq, said at his headquarters here.
Gorenc's fellow generals at the Tallil base just scored a new $14 million dining facility.

Over the past year, the Pentagon has reportedly been building up to 14 "enduring" bases across the country--long-term encampments that could house as many as 100,000 troops indefinitely, according to Mother Jones. How much is this costing American patriots?
KBR's first big building contract there, in June 2003, was a $200 million project to build and maintain "temporary housing units" for U.S. troops. Since then, according to military documents, it has received another $8.5 billion for work associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom. By far the largest sum--at least $4.5 billion--has gone to construction and maintenance of U.S. bases. By comparison, from 1999 to this spring, the U.S. government paid $1.9 billion to KBR for similar work in the Balkans.
Bush wants another $348 million in 'base construction money' as part of his 2006 emergency war funding bill.

Why feed the poor or provide the Iraqis with electricity when we can build a few more pools and fast food joints?

The swimming pool at Balad air base as seen through the window of a blackhawk helicopter,70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 25, 2005. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)

U.S. soldiers stand in a line with their purchases at a PX, in al-Asad air base, 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, March 4, 2006. (AP Photo/Charles J. Hanley)


At 3/29/2006 8:53 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

Maybe we should close up our bases in South Korea and Europe as well.

Or, at least make sure they aren't shamelessly playing Marco Polo in the pool and dining at 4 star eating establishments like Burger King.

At 3/29/2006 10:41 AM, Anonymous george clooney said...

or spending $14 million on a food dining hall. this is outrageous. if any democrat were in office, the media would be all over this and the republicans wouldn't stand for it (the "fiscal" republicans)

At 3/29/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Maybe it is outrageous. Of course, if I knew how much it costs to build a bomb-proof dining facility of indeterminate size in Iraq I'd know exactly how outrageous.

Maybe you can fill me in.

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