As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not
want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its
military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant
of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of
bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a
new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely
to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the
dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand
the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new
kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.
Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians,
teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate
the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task
forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial
heritage . . .
Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design
and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now
well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the
Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and
maintain our far-flung outposts. . . .
It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases.
Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive.
According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for
fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real
estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130
countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its
territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least
$113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a
figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries --
and an estimated $591.5 billion to replace all of them. The military high
command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus
an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials,
and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon
claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and
other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.
These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the
actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to
mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site
of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by
Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S.
military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called
arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.
For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American
military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one
Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps
bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in
the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's
Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails
to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations
in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force
bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire
would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no
one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure,
although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years. . . .
In addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole northern quarter of
Kuwait -- 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait's 6,900 square miles -- that we
now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for Green Zone
bureaucrats to relax. . . .
In his notorious "long, hard slog" memo on Iraq of October 16, 2003, Defense
secretary Rumsfeld wrote, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning
or losing the global war on terror." Correlli-Barnett's "metrics" indicate
otherwise. But the "war on terrorism" is at best only a small part of the
reason for all our military strategizing. The real reason for constructing
this new ring of American bases along the equator is to expand our empire
and reinforce our military domination of the world.
[Chalmers Johnson's latest book is The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism,
Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (Metropolitan). His previous book,
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire , has just been
updated with a new introduction.]
[Three long-term trends are threatening to bankrupt America: the burgeoning
costs of waging the war on terrorism, the U.S. economy's increasing reliance
on foreign capital, and rapid aging throughout the developed world.--Peter
G. Peterson, "Riding for a Fall," Foreign Affairs,
[. . . the Defense Department has gone out of its way to avoid using the
term "military base." . . . to avoid giving the impression that the United
States is seeking a permanent, colonial-like presence in the countries it
views as possible hosts for such installations.--Michael T. Klare, "Imperial
Reach," The Nation, April 25, 2005]
Robert W. Merry, "Sands
of Empire : Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of
Global Ambition," Simon & Schuster (May 31, 2005)
[With U.S. markets crashing and wealth vanishing, what are we doing with 750
bases and troops in over 100 countries?--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Liquidating the
Empire," antiwar.com, October 14, 2008]
[The Pentagon's most recent inventory of bases lists a total of 716 overseas
sites. . . . one conspicuously absent site is al-Udeid air base, a
billion-dollar facility in nearby Qatar, where the US Air Force secretly
oversees its ongoing unmanned drone wars.
. . . close to 700 US, allied, and Afghan military bases dot Afghanistan.
Until now, however, they have existed as black sites known to few Americans
outside the Pentagon.--Nick Turse, "Black sites
in the empire of bases," atimes.com, February 11, 2010]
[By one Pentagon count there are 865 foreign facilities. But that doesn't
count bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, which probably pushes the total past
1000.--Doug Bandow, "Just What
Is America Doing all Over the World?," campaignforliberty.com, July
Andrew Bacevich, "Washington
Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," Metropolitan Books (August 3, 2010)
[The Defense budget alone exceeds $526 billion. We have 4,855 military bases, including
4,169 in the United States, 110 in U.S. territories, and 576 abroad. Defense civilian
employees number 718,000, supplemented by countless contractors who operate in a
monopolistic or oligopolistic environment. The national debt is $17 trillion and
growing.--Bruce Fein, "Faustian bargain of global leadership,"
washingtontimes.com, November 13, 2014]
[Today, the United States empire has over 800 U.S. military installations around the world.
. . . more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation or empire in history.
Other countries have a combined total of about 30 foreign bases. Great Britain has seven
bases and France five bases in their former colonies. Russia has eight military bases in
the former Soviet republics and one in Syria.--Ann Wright, "Challenging
US Overseas Military Bases," consortiumnews.com, December 19, 2015]
[Special Operations forces, now at almost 70,000 and growing. . . . our secret "warriors" now
outnumber the military contingents of major nations.--David Vine and Tom Engelhardt, "Enduring Bases, Enduring War in the Middle
East," tomdispatch.com, January 15, 2016]
[According to retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, . . . "There is a cowardly empire
killing them from the skies and the only way for them to fight back is asymmetrical. The
things they do seem like heinous acts of terrorism to us, but in fact that is the only
option we've left them with."--Vegas Tenold, "The
Untold Casualties of the Drone War," rollingstone.com, February 18, 2016]
[Officially, the Department of Defense maintains 4,775 "sites," spread across all 50
states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these
outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon's worldwide property portfolio.
Just to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego
Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as in Peru and Portugal, the United
Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. But the most recent version of that portfolio,
issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn't include any
mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or
Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales
where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be
expanding.--Nick Turse, "Bases, Bases, Everywhere . . . Except in the Pentagon's Report,"
consortiumnews.com, January 16, 2019]
[Britain split the archipelago off from its colonial island territory of Mauritius in 1965, . . .