Welcome to Iraq, Would You Like Burger King or Pizza Hut?
"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.Gorenc's fellow generals at the Tallil base just scored a new $14 million dining facility.
''Balad's a fantastic base," Brigadier General Frank Gorenc, the Air Force's tactical commander in Iraq, said at his headquarters here.
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?