Mission Creep

What Permanent Iraq Presence?

What the Beltway crowd said way back when about how long we'd be in Baghdad.

Fri Aug. 22, 2008 2:00 AM EDT

"It is never our intention to go and stay in a place and to impose our will by the presence of our military forces." —Secretary of State Colin Powell, October 2002

"We will stay as long as necessary to make sure that the Iraqi people have a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. And then we'll come home." —George W. Bush, May 2003

"We have no desire to stay any longer than necessary." —American envoy Paul Bremer, July 2003

"I assured [Iraqis] that America wasn't leaving. When they hear me say we're staying, that means we're staying." —George W. Bush, November 2003

Advertise on MotherJones.com

"I can't say whether it is going to be 2006, 2007...It is not going to be months for sure." —British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, January 2004

"As a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation—and neither does America." —George W. Bush, April 2004

"We have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases in Iraq." —Then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, February 2005

"We have no goal of establishing permanent bases." —Zalmay Khalilzad, then US ambassador to Iraq, March 2006

"US troops could be in Iraq for a thousand years or a million years...It's not American presence; it's American casualties." —John McCain, explaining his "100 years" remark to Mother Jones, January 2008

"[America's Korean and German bases] have been there for 50 years; they are US facilities in the sense that they are US-only in many instances. That's not what we have in mind…We have no desire for permanent bases in Iraq." —Defense Secretary Robert Gates, June 2008