Perino On Permanent Bases: It Depends On How You Define ‘Permanent’

In recent weeks, the administration has gone on a PR offensive claiming they do not seek permanent bases in Iraq, even removing a “security guarantee” from its “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship.”

Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in the Washington Post, “nothing will authorize permanent bases in Iraq (something neither we nor Iraqis want).”

But this rhetoric has not been implemented into action. In January, President Bush issued a signing statement allowing him to disregard a provision in the Defense Authorization Act banning permanent bases in Iraq. This week, the administration agreed to a “pause” in the rate of withdrawal.

Today, White House Press Secretary revealed how misleading the administration’s rhetoric on permanent bases is, arguing the White House does not view any U.S. military installations overseas as being “permanent”:

“The United States, where we are, where we have bases, we are there at the invitation of those countries. I’m not aware of any place in the world — where we have a base — that they are asking us to leave. And if they did, we would probably leave,” said spokeswoman Dana Perino. […]

Top aides to US President George W. Bush have countered that the strife-torn country’s government could ask US forces to leave at any time, meaning that bases are not technically “permanent.”

The U.S. has roughly 700 overseas bases in about 130 countries, many for decades. For example, U.S. forces have been stationed in Japan, Germany, and South Korea since post-World War II.


The White House’s rhetoric echoes that of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who frequently lists the presence of U.S. bases abroad to bolster his case for a 10,000 year occupation of Iraq.

Perino’s comments suggest that the White House’s public statements that it opposes “permanent bases” in Iraq is just a game of semantics.