WASHINGTON - September 26 - The U.S. Congress this week finalized legislation that bars funding to construct permanent military bases in Iraq, and states definitively that it is the policy of the United States government not to exercise control over Iraq’s petroleum resources.
“The perception that the U.S. military plans to stay in Iraq indefinitely has fueled the insurgency and undermined the stability of the Iraqi government,” said Ruth Flower, legislative director for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). “This legislation is an important first step in changing the failed U.S. policy in Iraq.”
The 63-year-old Quaker lobby, FCNL, has been working with members of Congress on this policy since January 2005. Reps. Barbara Lee (CA) and Tom Allen (ME) advanced stand-alone bills to bar permanent bases in 2005, and in 2006 the House and the Senate approved similar amendments banning permanent bases as part of an emergency supplemental spending bill and then as part of the military authorization legislation. In both cases, the administration persuaded leaders in the House and Senate to strip out the “no permanent bases” language during conference committee negotiations.
But when similar language was attached to the FY07 military appropriations bill (H.R. 5631) by Rep. John Murtha (PA) in the House and Sen. Joe Biden (DE) in the Senate, negotiators from the House and Senate held firm. The final conference report on the military appropriations bill released September 25 prohibits the Pentagon from spending money to establish military installations or bases in Iraq. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the final version of this legislation later this week.
While we at FCNL believe this declaration of policy is an important step toward changing U.S. policy in Iraq, we are concerned that the military appropriations bill also includes an additional $70 billion in funding for the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The U.S. government’s own National Intelligence Estimate confirms what we have been hearing from people in Iraq for more than a year – that the U.S. presence in Iraq has fueled the development of a new generation of violent radical groups and has made the overall problem of terrorism worse,” said Flower. War is not the answer.