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Iraq: The geographic center of the Mideast
sharing common borders with Saudi Arabia,
Turkey, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan and Iran

If you ask a real estate agent what the most important considerations in selecting a parcel of real estate are, chances are the answer will be: location, location, location. Now, if you happen to be fighting a global war on terror, have a lot of cronies in the oil business, and have a special relationship with Israel, it seems Iraq is the ideal parcel of real estate to acquire.

Fortunately for George W. Bush, the Lord led him to a real estate agent who had been trying to cut a deal on Iraq for years. Working closely with the brokers at the Project for the New American Century (not affiliated with Century-21), agent Ahmad Chalabi helped get the deal closed.

Global real estate speculators speculated over why Bush chose Iraq. Being a clever real estate speculator himself, Bush held his cards close to his vest. He claimed it was the weapons of mass destruction that Chalabi promised that sold him on Iraq. Of course, there was other real estate available that had plenty of weapons of mass destruction and some experts were pretty sure that Iraq had none.

To throw off the speculators, Bush claimed that al Qaida connections prompted him to choose Iraq. But if you want al Qaida, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have lots more al Qaida than Iraq.

Some speculators were worried that there was no exit strategy. They worried the deal might go sour. Some worried that America would be stuck managing the Iraq real estate development project forever - bogged down collecting rents from dead beat tenants.

It was the lack of an exit strategy that should have tipped off the speculators that this wasn't just another urban renewal project. Some arm-chair real estate agents assumed Bush would level the old Iraq, build a new Iraq, and then turn the whole thing over to rental agent Ahmad Chalabi. But, the reason there wasn't an exit strategy is that Bush did not plan on leaving.

Iraq is at the geographic center of the Mideast and part of the strategy for the generational war on terror is to reshape the Mideast. Hence, Iraq was the perfect location. The operation in Iraq is not a war, but merely a battle. The reason Iraq was selected is because it makes an ideal staging area for the battles to come.

Bush spoke of the battle on May 9, 2003:

And in the battle of Iraq, we faced a regime that aided terrorists, armed itself with weapons of mass destruction to threaten the peace, and persecuted its own people. And today, that regime is no more.

Paul Wolfowitz further defined the operation in Iraq on June 25, 2004:

But Saddam’s old gang and their terrorist allies won’t go down without a fight. That is why there is so much violence in Iraq today. That is also why we say that Iraq is presently the central battle in the war on terrorism.

Some global real estate speculators might be thinking that Bush is one heck of a wheeler-dealer to have come up with a plan to acquire Iraq and build American military bases there. Actually, this is an old strategy that neoconservative speculators worked up years ago.

Neocons Richard Perle and Douglas Feith wrote about regime change in Iraq in 1996 for the benefit of Israel. In 1998, a group of neocons and warhawks (that included Perle, Bolton, Kristol, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Woolsey) from the Project for the New American Century sent a letter to President Clinton insisting on regime change in Iraq.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was established in 1997 as an educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership. PNAC issued a report in 2000, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, based on the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces.

PNAC uses "history" to promote interventionism and preventive war as part of their educational mission:

America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Nearly two years before President Bush gave his axis of evil speech, PNAC identified the three evil-doing nations in the conclusion of their report:

We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered.

Over a year ago, stories were circulating about four (or six) military bases being built in Iraq by America. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the former interim administrator of post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Iraq, said that a U.S. military presence in Iraq should last the next few decades.

On March 23, 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported that America was building 14 military bases in Iraq. The article stated that "from the ashes of abandoned Iraqi army bases, U.S. military engineers are overseeing the building of an enhanced system of American bases designed to last for years".

The Florida Times-Union reported the same story on May 13, 2004, pointing out that the military wanted to consolidate from about 100 bases of various sizes to 14 large bases. The Pentagon doesn't say much about these bases, but the Christian Science Monitor reported on September 30, 2004 that 12 bases had been indentified.

According to a Fox News report, Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed any serious talk of a permanent military presence in Iraq and suggested such bases would be unnecessary. Rumsfeld made these statements in 2003. In December 2004, Rumsfeld said U.S. troops would remain in Iraq until 2008. Recently, Bush has ruled out any deadline for troop withdrawal.

Apparently, U.S. forces are already putting American bases in Iraq to use for future battles in the region. On February 13, 2005, the Washington Post reported that America has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year.

It appears that America will be in Iraq for the long haul. Mother Jones News describes Camp Victory North, located near the Baghdad International Airport, as a small American city. According to Mother Jones, about 14,000 troops live in air-conditioned bungalows and there is even a Burger King. Currently under construction, Camp Victory North will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo once completed. Camp Bondsteel is one of the largest overseas posts built since the Vietnam War.

Proponents of aggressive real estate acquisition often point to Germany, Japan and South Korea as successful examples of American redevelopment and management. America has had thousands of troops in those countries for over half a century. If the past is any indication of the future, America will be in Iraq for decades to come.

The real estate game that Bush is playing in Iraq is much like the old Parker Brother's game Monopoly - to win the game you acquire a parcel of real estate, hold on to it, and acquire the adjacent properties. The big difference is that in the game of Monopoly, you can't mortgage the future of others to acquire real estate, nobody dies, and the game doesn't last for decades.

This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.