Sunday, March 1, 2009

American Empire

The future course of global affairs rests critically upon popular awareness of the long-term trend of U.S. behavior. Will the last decade of blatant, in-your-face empire-building turn out to be the exception proving the rule of U.S. exceptionalism or will it indeed turn out, as so many neo-cons have gushed, to be the foundation of a "hundred-year war"?

No one should doubt for a minute the overwhelming attractiveness of endless war to investors in the military-industrial complex, to ambitious politicians, to those who put millenarian religious mantras ahead of patriotism, or to politicians who simply fear the decline of oil and want to postpone the pain as long as possible by controling every last drop.

You cannot defend yourself against an enemy unless you know the enemy exists. A volunteer project to gather relevant evidence about which way the U.S. is headed would be one way for the American people to start defending themselves.

Many types of evidence would be relevant, including:

  1. U.S. policy on nuclear proliferation. U.S. support for a non-nuclear Mideast would constitute a major change in direction. Serious efforts to slow the South Asian nuclear arms race would also constitute a major change in direction.
  2. U.S. military aid policy. A shift in U.S. military aid for Israel from offensive weapons (e.g., jet fighters, bunker-buster bombs) to defensive weapons would constitute a major change in direction.
  3. U.S. military budget. Under Obama, despite the decline of the Iraqi war and the recession, it is still rising, folks. Does that tell you anything?
  4. U.S. military budget items. Despite a military budget heavy on expensive weapons systems designed for global war against superpower enemies (which no longer exist), has anyone heard of a single one being canceled?
  5. The proportion of military to civilian aid. U.S. military aid to Afghanistan is twenty times the level of economic aid.

All are invited to contribute to this blog suggestions for additional types of evidence and, of course, to contribute the evidence itself. If there is sufficient interest, I would be willing to manage a Wiki-based "project headquarters" to facilitate discussion and organization of information.

Key Evidence: Global U.S. Military Bases

One of the best ways to cut through politicians' hot air to identify what the elite is actually doing is to track the massive globe-covering archipelago of U.S. military bases. For background on U.S. bases in the Mideast, see this analysis and this one. Other evidence is provided below:

1. U.S. military bases in Iraq. Dennis Kucinich noted in response to Obama's announcement on Iraq,

“America must determine at some point to end the occupation, close the bases and bring the troops home. We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people.”

Whether or not Washington has yet made such a determination is far from clear. Media reports of U.S. withdrawal from some Iraqi bases are misleading. As Major Sutton of the 25th Infantry Division said in reference to a U.S. withdrawal from one base,

Just because we pull back doesn't necessarily mean we aren't going to have any presence. We just won't be in the populated areas themselves.

In other words, U.S. troops may be relieved of domestic Iraqi police duties and free to concentrate, sight unseen, on whatever task related to regional military dominance that might be assigned to them. Even the number of bases, much less their extent and purpose, is uncertain:

A figure for the bases in Iraq is unavailable. U.S. Central Command authorities declined to disclose the number, citing security considerations, but there are scores.

Check out the interactive map offered by the Friends Committee on National Legislation to get an idea of the distribution of U.S. bases in Iraq.

On January 20, the U.S. "signed over" Camp Ramadi in Anbar province, though the commander called it "more symbolism than it is an actual event." The report noted that U.S. troops would remain for the time being but that "the physical structures built on Camp Ramadi will be handed over in 2011 or torn down." More significant may be the plans for the new superbases reportedly planned for construction starting in 2005: "Tallil in the south; Al Asad in the west; Balad in the centre and either Irbil or Qayyarah in the north."

2. U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, "As the first substantial illustration of the new military focus in Afghanistan," the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade is now moving into Wardak and Logar provinces, representing a major expansion of the U.S. presence in that part of Afghanistan. "All forward operating bases throughout these provinces will be reinforced to accommodate the influx of troops."

U.S. military construction plans for Afghanistan tell a clear story about policy intentions:

The Army is building $1.1 billion worth of military bases and other facilities in Afghanistan and is planning to start an additional $1.3 billion in projects this year, according to Col. Thomas E. O'Donovan, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan District.

As part of the surge of U.S. forces into Afghanistan begun by Obama, Uzbekistan is building a railroad from Termez to Mazar-e Sharif.

An ominous series of new forward operating bases (FOB) is being constructed to hold thousands of U.S troops in southern Afghanistan in preparation for the anticipated spring arrival of a severe intensification of the war.

FOBs are typically comprised of prefabricated buildings for dining, barracks, headquarters, recreation and training. That way, the U.S. command can refer to them as temporary, even thought they may remain operational for years.

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