An empire of US military bases
14 Feb, 2011 18:56
The United States boats hundreds of military bases around the world, perhaps even thousands. But, no one knows for sure because even the Pentagon does not bother to keep track.
Historian and journalist Nick Turse explained, “What I’m relatively sure of is that there are no less than 1,077 US bases or sites in foreign countries….and likely there are many more than that, we just can’t be sure.” What is known is that the US Defense budget is now about the equal to military spending in all other countries combined, and since 9/11, military and security expenditures have soared 119 percent. Some of these bases are on tiny islands, and some, like Guantanamo Bay, serve dual purposes. A great deal of money goes towards maintaining those bases, but once again, taxpayers and the military do not know exactly how much is allocated towards construction and maintenance at each. Experts argue the reason for sustaining all these military installations abroad is to “maintain a far flung global empire,” and they point out that in places like Saudi Arabia and Okinawa, US military presence has been denounced by locals. “Cleary there’s no need from the point of view of self defense for the US to have military installations all over the world. It’s really part of maintaining a far flung global empire, and at the heart of the empire and corporate and banking interests and elites that the US military is defending. Each place that the United States has a military base, the US has political power, economic power, and it’s a matter of coercion,” said Brian Becker of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. A local Kyrgyz man told RT, “We are living here and raising our children. Why do we need this US Air base?” In Okinawa, locals are forced to give up ten to twenty percent of the island to the US military for a base that they associate with noise, crime, and pollution. Some say the US plays under a double standard when it comes to this. Becker argued, “The United States would never tolerate China having military bases in Canada, in Mexico, in Haiti, in the DR, in other words in countries that ring the United States. It’s not a question of law, it’s a question of might makes right. In other words, the United States is the 700 pound gorilla. It sits wherever it chooses to sit.” While the US chooses to “sit wherever,” those most affected by these bases, both at home and abroad, don’t necessarily have a place at the table.Jacob Hornberger, the president of The Future of Freedom Foundation said the secrecy of empire leads to the massive number of bases, a number which is not disclosed.“They call it a Department of Defense, but we all know that’s just a charade,” he said. “This is really just a department of empire and war.” He explained the extensive military empire combined with foreign aid to dictators generates anger and hate towards the US, which in turn which generates terrorism and the validation the government uses to take away freedoms from Americans in the United States. “It’s really created nothing but problems for us,” Hornberger added.
David Vine, a professor of anthropology at American University explained the argument the Pentagon uses to justify its military presence across the globe is “self-defense”. Even when it comes to confirmed US allies like Japan, Italy and Germany, as well as various tiny islands through the Pacific and Indian oceans.“Why does the United States have a military base in the middle of the Indian ocean? Why does the United States need one? Is it protecting the United States in anyway?” asked Vine. “Not to mention, why are we spending tens of millions of dollars on things like golf courses. The Pentagon has somewhere on the order of 230 golf courses around the world. Couldn’t we cut a few of those, close down a few of those, put the money back into Pell Grants or housing programs or homelessness diversion programs?” Afghan President Hamid Karzai once admitted that with the US military bases established permanently in Afghanistan there’ll be economic prosperity and end to the violence in the country. At the same time, the US economy continues in dire straits yet little is being done to address it. “We should take the money that we would spend to expend building US bases overseas and invest in real national security needs here at home. Not just the military, but going far beyond,” argued Vine.