By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
Feb. 10, 2008 - The United States does not plan to establish permanent bases in Iraq, President Bush said today. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Bush told host Chris Wallace that the best interests of the United States and Iraq would guide any agreement on long-term U.S. presence in Iraq, just as similar agreements are in place between the United States and other countries that host U.S. forces.
"We will be there at the invitation of the Iraqi government," he said. "And we won't have permanent bases."
For the near term, Bush said, he'll make decisions on the next steps in Iraq when military leaders provide their next reports and recommendations in the spring. Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command; and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, are slated to present their recommendations to Bush in April.
Bush said he met with Petraeus in Kuwait during a recent trip to the Middle East, and that he urged the general to base his recommendations on whatever is necessary for success in Iraq, which he defined as having enough security and stability for reconciliation to take place and for the country's democracy to take hold.
"My message to the general was, 'Success is paramount. Therefore, whatever you recommend, make it based upon the need to succeed,'" Bush said. "I'm not sure what his recommendation will be, nor am I sure what the recommendation will be of the Pentagon. ... They may be all the same; they may not be all the same.
"But I will listen, give them careful consideration, and make up my mind," the president said. "But it's going to be based upon whether or not we can succeed."