The Pentagon is planning to expand American presence overseas, including in Iraq to fight ISIS, the New York Times reported Thursday. This proposition was put forward despite Iraqi statements that reject foreign troops aiding the fight against ISIS. Other countries are also apprehensive to an increase of American military presence.
“Administration officials said that the proposal for the new basing system…was not intended to be a specific Pentagon proposal to combat the affiliates of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL,” the Times reported. “The officials said that it was meant primarily as a re-examination of how the military positions itself for future counterterrorism missions, but that the growing concern about a metastasizing Islamic State threat has lent new urgency to the discussions.”
The Pentagon proposes a hub in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region of around 3,500 American troops. While the expansion plan is an attempt to create better coordination between bases and maintain a central base in the Middle East, the central Iraqi government in Baghdad’s recent comments indicates they may not appreciate a larger American presence in their country — even though Kurdistan has been semi-autonomous since 2005. Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, among other Iraqi politicians, said Iraq does not welcome foreign troops (despite the presence of Iranian militias on the ground) interfering in the fight against ISIS.
“The only contribution the American forces or the international coalition is going to help us with is from the sky,” al-Abadi told AP. “We are not giving any blank check to the international coalition to hit any target in Iraq.”
Iraq isn’t the only country that opposes an increased American presence. Other countries also feel uncomfortable with an increased American military force on their land.
“…some officials [are] advocating [for] a larger string of new bases in West Africa, and others, mindful of African fears about a large American military footprint on the continent, saying the main hub for West Africa would actually be located in southern Europe,” the Times reported.
In an interview with NPR earlier this year, David Vine, author of Base Nation: How the U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, said: “Largely, people of course don’t like their land occupied by foreign troops — and I think it’s worth thinking, for American audiences, to think about how it would feel to have foreign troops living next door, occupying your land with tanks. … There have also been a number of harms that these bases have inflicted on local communities — there have been accidents, crimes committed by U.S. personnel, environmental damage — a whole range of damage that people were quite upset about.”