Khalilzad Says What Bush Won't: No Permanent US Presence In Iraq

Juan Cole quotes US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad telling al Hayat that he has assured sectarian opponents of the US presence in-country: "We don't want to stay in Iraq." He's apparently concluded that one way to tamp down the hostility toward the American military, and perhaps even political tensions more broadly, is to reassure the relevant parties that America does not intend to station its military permanently in the country. But President Bush and and Secretary Rumsfeld have never given such assurances, and -- as Kevin Drum has reported -- are instead allocating resources to build up what are said to be permanent military installations.

Right now Khalilzad's efforts are about the only thing standing between Iraq and full-scale sectarian warfare. Why won't the Administration support him by officially disavowing any intention to build permanent bases?

Suzanne Nossel is a Senior Fellow at the Security and Peace Institute, a joint project of the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress. She blogs regularly at www.democracyarsenal.org.