BASES IN IRAQ….Former Condi Rice friend Larry Diamond states the obvious today:

It?s now pretty clear that the ambition to establish long-term American military bases in Iraq, in order to secure the Persian Gulf region, contain Iranian expansion, and enable us to draw down or withdraw altogether our forces in Saudi Arabia, was an important motivation for going to war.

….What concerns me as much as anything is the listless state of our own democracy. Why have the Congress and the news media not effectively challenged the Administration on this issue? Why has the White House press corps not asked President Bush the obvious and urgent question, ?Mr. President, do we seek long-term military bases in Iraq? If so, do you believe this strategic goal is worth the loss of more American lives in Iraq? If not, why don?t you declare that we will not do so, so as to remove one of the most powerful political mobilizing grounds for the insurgency?? Why have the Congress and the media not challenged Secretary Rumsfeld: ?Mr. Secretary, are we building permanent military bases in Iraq? What are our intentions there??

So far, the press has allowed Bush and Rumsfeld to get away with mealy-mouthed evasions that there are “no current plans” for permanent bases and that ? of course! ? this decision is up to a future democratically-elected Iraqi government. At the same time, billions of dollars have been spent in both Afghanistan and Iraq on bases that look pretty damn permanent to anyone who takes even a casual look at them.

Why does the press let them get away with this obvious sophistry? Beats me. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson by now.