America’s empire of bases

“After the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union imploded, keen observers were surprised to discover that the whole global military structure that Washington had set up “America’s empire of bases” or a “globe-girdling Baseworld” – chugged right on. It didn’t matter that there was no real enemy left on Planet Earth. It was, indeed, an empire.

“And here’s the strange thing, though it goes remarkably unnoticed in our world: that vast global structure of military garrisons, unprecedented in history, ranging from some the size of American towns to small outposts, has remained in place to this very second. Though little attention has been paid in recent years — despite the fact that it couldn’t be a more prominent feature on this planet, geo-militarily speaking — there remain something like 800 American garrisons worldwide (not counting, of course, the more than 420 military bases located in the continental U.S., (Guam, and Puerto Rico).

“There’s never been anything quite like it, not for the Roman Empire, the British Empire, or the Soviet one either. And with our military now in the process of transforming the whole planet into an even more militarized place, those bases will be all the more relevant. The U.S. military is increasingly focused on future wars of every imaginable sort (right up to the sort that could leave this planet in shreds).” (Adapted from an article in Tom Dispatch, November 2018).

Empires expand until their borders are too long, the number of soldiers is insufficient to defend the territory, and the money runs out. The Roman Empire is a good example. The British empire is another: built up during a century of world peace, but too big and too expensive to defend. The United States is now over-extended and devotes an obscene amount of money on “defense” as the budget deficit balloons and the country becomes more in hock to China. There seem to be too many vested interests to do anything about it – trying to seriously cut the Pentagon budget would produce an uproar (bases were placed in every Congressional district to ensure full support for the Pentagon). The American Empire of bases is arguably unsustainable and hasn’t long to survive. When the inevitable happens picture to yourself the outrage from the military-industrial complex and its limitless hunger for yet more taxpayer dollars, all spent – for what exactly?

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