Washington, D.C. — Council for a Livable World today applauded Congress for approving a provision barring the United States from building permanent military bases in Iraq.
Congress approved this provision when it adopted the fiscal year 2007 Defense Appropriations Conference Report in the last week of September.
The Senate and House have previously adopted provisions to bar permanent military bases in Iraq a number of times before, but the provisions never survived in the final bill.
This time, the sponsors of the measure succeeded.
Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962, is one of the nationâ€™s oldest and largest organizations devoted to more sensible national security policies.
John Isaacs, President of Council for a Livable World, said: â€œWhile the measure does not end the war, it is a step in the right direction.â€�
Isaacs noted that the Bush Administration has been vague about whether the United States might establish permanent military bases to protect access to oil in the Middle East. In the meantime, a lot of concrete has been poured and many structures erected.
â€œCongress has said no to such permanent bases,â€� added Isaacs.
Isaacs further noted: â€œThe decision will help move many Republicans — who are still wary of outright opposition to the Bush Administration â€“ distance themselves from the Administrationâ€™s policy of perpetually â€˜staying the course.â€™â€�
Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha and Delaware Senator Joseph Biden originally convinced their respective houses of Congress to adopt the amendment.
When the House considered this bill on June 20, it overwhelmingly defeated an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to strip the Murtha amendment from the bill.
The King amendment, which in effect endorsed permanent military bases, failed by a 50 â€“ 376 vote, with only 47 Republicans and three Democrats voting â€œaye.â€� In fact, Republicans alone voted 47 â€“ 180 against permanent bases.
Senator Biden, in a statement about the provision, said:
â€œI have no illusions that this provision will somehow dramatically change the dynamic of events on the ground in Iraq. But the Iraqi people remain deeply suspicious of our intentions and are growing increasingly impatient, putting our men and women in uniform in greater danger. This is a message that needs to be proclaimed loudly and regularly and with the stamp of the Congress. The confereesâ€™ action is an important step toward that end.â€�
There were two recent polls of Iraqis which showed overwhelming Iraqi support for Americaâ€™s departure.
A Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland poll found that 71 percent of Iraqis want Americans out in a year.
Additionally, 77 percent of those polled believed that the United States intends keep permanent military bases in the country
The final language in Section 9012 in the conference report reads:
None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated or expended by the United States government for a purpose as follows:
(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United Stats Armed Forces in Iraq
(2) To exercise United States control over any oil resource of Iraq