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The Pentagon's New Generation of Secret Military Bases
July 17, 2012 2:02 PM   Subscribe

How the Pentagon is quietly transforming its overseas base empire and creating a dangerous new way of war.
posted by Chrysostom (68 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
The author of the piece, David Vine, has a book linked to in the article above - about Diego Garcia - it is well worth reading.
posted by lalochezia at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2012


"A lily pad on one of the Gulf of Guinea islands of S­ão Tomé and Príncipe, off the oil-rich west coast of Africa, helps explain what's going on. A US official has described the base as "another Diego Garcia," referring to the Indian Ocean base that's helped ensure decades of US domination over Middle Eastern energy supplies."

This paragraph is incongruous as part of an argument against further regional bases.
posted by jaduncan at 2:16 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting in this context that the UK has in fact kept several crucial bits of land mass useful for force projection.
posted by jaduncan at 2:20 PM on July 17, 2012


See Thomas Barnett.
posted by adamvasco at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, the United States is building tiny bases all over the place, filled with military equipment? They're well-hidden? Possibly underground?

How close do I need to be before they show up on my Pip-Boy?
posted by edguardo at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Anyone with a pragmatic sense of reality knows that drone warfare is the way of the future, and "lily pad" strategy seems perfectly designed to sync up with that. Most of our conflicts now are asymmetrical and require more targeted seek-and-destroy capabilities. Why have huge ineffective bases that take forever to get to the staging ground when you can simply have a smaller base right next to it, with thirty armed quadrocopter drones in the basement? This way, if Washington hears of a terrorist threat, all they have to do is call the lily pad nearest to the threat, have the nearest soldier arm an explosive payload on a quadrocopter drone, and guide the bomb to its target within minutes. Considering how inefficent our military usually is, I'm in awe that somebody actually had the vision to create a strategy like this.

As far as the "other countries feeling more threatened," well - there's always been a diplomatic cost associated with military bases. I'm not sure how this is news. And what exactly is David Vine's counterproposal? It sounds like he's suggesting we go back to the inefficient and woefully outdated method of military readiness simply because it's less likely to piss off other countries... which just doesn't make any sense. As long as we're doing that, why don't we stop using guns and arm our soldiers with sharp pointy sticks instead? I'm sure other nations would feel a lot less threatened then.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:34 PM on July 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


what is the other way of war that is not dangerous
posted by LogicalDash at 2:35 PM on July 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


In addition to the land bases, there's the navy, with attack carriers full of Marines and strike aircraft, patrolling back and forth from Japan, down through Indonesia, across the Indian Ocean, and over to the Arabian Sea. My nephew serves on one such ship doing the tour.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2012


Anyone with a pragmatic sense of reality knows that drone warfare is the way of the future

(tweeeet!) Word misuse: "ANYONE." Five yard penalty.
posted by JHarris at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2012


Drone manufacturing will be the key in the future once the drones start fighting each other. Hope the lily pads have enough room to hatch the zerglings.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:49 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


DefenseNews (Gannett): New Floating Base Ships Coming to the US Navy

Washington Post: Pentagon Wants Commando Mothership

WIRED's Danger Room blog ran a story: How This Landlubber’s Blog Became the Navy’s Ideas Machine on the Information Dissemination blog.

NYTimes: Floating Base Gives U.S. New Footing in the Persian Gulf
Allies and friends are important, but they can veto American missions initiated from bases on their territory. The Ponce operates from international waters. Surprise and speed are critical to military success; the Ponce can sail close to areas of conflict. And having the ability to carry out different missions for different branches of the armed services is more valuable than having a weapons platform that does just one thing for one branch of the military.
'lily pads' indeed.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:50 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


How the Pentagon is quietly transforming its overseas base empire and creating a dangerous new way of war.

Force projection from bases is hardly "a new way of war".

"Yet Washington still easily maintains the largest collection of foreign bases in world history: more than 1,000 military installations outside the 50 states and Washington, DC."

Has the author actually researched this? What was the previous high. For instance a few minutes of Googling will tell you that in 1901, the US had 639 garrisons in the Phillipines alone (footnote 12 on page 16). How many overseas garrisons did the British Empire have at its height?
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 2:52 PM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


As long as we're doing that, why don't we stop using guns and arm our soldiers with sharp pointy sticks instead? I'm sure other nations would feel a lot less threatened then.

If only there were some sort of other security arrangement, somewhere between global militarization and pointy sticks!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Articles like this just slay me with the pound-foolishness and the penny-wiseness.

Yet Washington still easily maintains the largest collection of foreign bases in world history: more than 1,000 military installations outside the 50 states and Washington, DC. ... Although the US military vacated around 60% of its foreign bases following the Soviet Union's collapse, the Cold War base infrastructure remained relatively intact, with 60,000 American troops remaining in Germany alone, despite the absence of a superpower adversary.

60,00 people in Germany.

Yes, let's worry about the lily pads. Pay no attention to the garrison with the size and operating budget of Apple, Inc. stationed in 50-year NATO ally Germany.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


War is big business, folks.

How did that go? Ah yes, I remember.
Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


stationed in 50-year NATO ally Germany

Well, you know, Russia. Where else should they be?
posted by BeeDo at 3:14 PM on July 17, 2012


For instance a few minutes of Googling will tell you that in 1901, the US had 639 garrisons in the Phillipines alone

Important to note that this was during a war, that other time we conquered a country and had a decade-long counterinsurgency against Muslim residents of the place who didn't appreciate it.
posted by XMLicious at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


wolfdreams01, you forgot to say "What could possibly go wrong?"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:27 PM on July 17, 2012


Well, you know, Russia. Where else should they be?

That idea stopped making sense on Dec. 25, 1991.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:35 PM on July 17, 2012


Wasn't the "American Empire" a sarcastic exaggeration once? Why does America even need to project force around the world? (Other than a few places where the American military is unarguably keeping bad stuff from happening, like South Korea and maybe Eastern Europe.) Maybe our civilization is getting too interconnected for one nation to dominate everything.

Just think of all the money spent on those 1000+ bases, and what it could do if it went back into your domestic economy.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:39 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.
How else do you make more virgins?
posted by roystgnr at 3:41 PM on July 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


It sounds like he's suggesting we go back to the inefficient and woefully outdated method of military readiness simply because it's less likely to piss off other countries...

Isn't pissing off countries the first-principle problem here?

Seriously, we are treating the rest of the world as our domain, and this inevitably will lead to more threats like the one we face from Al Quaida. When we set up military bases in other countries, it is more than just a convenience for our armed forces. It communicates some very negative things about us and our presumed role in the world. If you support this approach to international relations, then you should recognize that this makes us a colonial power and you cannot back away from that characterization by muddying the analogies with previous colonial powers: this is what colonialism in the 21st century looks like.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Important to note that this was during a war, that other time we conquered a country and had a decade-long counterinsurgency against Muslim residents of the place who didn't appreciate it.

It's not important to my point or to his. The current count also involves a war, a decade-long counterinsurgency against its Muslim residents many of whom also don't appreciate our being there.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2012


Sure, let us borrow more from China, to ultimately protect against China.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


60,00 people in Germany.

Yes, let's worry about the lily pads. Pay no attention to the garrison with the size and operating budget of Apple, Inc. stationed in 50-year NATO ally Germany.


They are there because of NATO. Not in spite of NATO. It is a commitment to ensure the US views the safety of NATO allies as equivalent to their own by having their own there.
posted by srboisvert at 4:06 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't trust those NATO fools. They don't have near enough foreign bases in the US.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:07 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's not important to my point or to his.

Sorry, I thought you were asking a bunch of questions about the history of the number of overseas bases.
posted by XMLicious at 4:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to say what China's ambitions may be. Obviously they want to continue to grow their economy and need access to lots of cheap resources, which will become harder to do as time goes by. But would they resort to military force to secure supplies? Doesn't seem likely. But then, we live in a world where the US dominates the South China Sea. If that wasn't true, maybe the Chinese would be way more aggressive.

I can see a world where the US still maintains a large military presence in a few places to maintain the status quo, but that's different from projecting force everywhere in the world.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:09 PM on July 17, 2012


If you support this approach to international relations, then you should recognize that this makes us a colonial power and you cannot back away from that characterization by muddying the analogies with previous colonial powers: this is what colonialism in the 21st century looks like.

The notion that analogies with previous colonial powers are flawed is apt, and there is already a word for the type of power that the US is exhibiting across the world; neither "imperialism" nor "colonialism" are quite accurate: it's hegemony.

This is what hegemony in the 21st century looks like.
posted by chimaera at 4:17 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Why have huge ineffective bases that take forever to get to the staging ground when you can simply have a smaller base right next to it, with thirty armed quadrocopter drones in the basement?

This policy doesn't involve downsizing current bases (the "smaller base right next to it"), but creating a sprawling network of new bases to supplement existing ones. On a practical level, as the article points out, doing so often involves disrupting native populations, partnering with dictators, and compelling competitors to ramp up their military activities. Your theoretical quadricopter lives on a manned base that brings with it some serious consequences, and does nothing to remove the "ineffective" bases you seem concerned about.

As for alternatives? How about this: ramping down military presence in Asia, and not going out of our way to intervene, or "project force," or desperately suck up to Karimov et al. in an attempt to secure "forward" positions that edge up on nonexistent fronts? How about not assuming that drone strikes can solve every threat posed to this country, or assume that they should always be our first plan of attack? How about not letting the military and arms industry create an excuse to continue their outside sap on our economy, even as we withdraw troops from two failed wars?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I thought you were asking a bunch of questions about the history of the number of overseas bases.

I understand that that was during the Phillipine-American War. The question is, is the number today really higher than the number in 1901? Than the number of British overseas bases during the height of the British empire? To say, "Well that was when we were in the middle of a war" has no bearing on whether there are now more bases than there were then. If there were more bases then than there are now, but we were in a war then, it would still be false that there are more bases now than there were then.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 4:35 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama’s Scramble for Africa: Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa
posted by homunculus at 4:36 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


That idea stopped making sense on Dec. 25, 1991.

European history goes back to before 1917.
posted by BeeDo at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sure, let us borrow more from China, to ultimately protect against China.

Well that's about the only part of the whole thing that actually makes sense. For us, not the Chinese. For the Chinese it's pretty insane. The net result of the transaction is that we end up with a lot of military hardware and they end up with Treasury bills that we could pretty easily decline to redeem.

It's heartwarming that somebody still believes that the United States is a fiscally responsible, even-keeled investment opportunity, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


the dangers section seems a little weak. Its not like those areas of the world aren't militarized. And its not like we haven't worked with despots before. We seem to work less with them now than ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:44 PM on July 17, 2012


It's being going on for a while.
posted by cardboard at 4:50 PM on July 17, 2012


In a world of global trade, what does the United States have to offer that other countries cannot produce for themselves more cheaply? Our most competitive export, food, is laden with distribution issues and costs. Intellectual property is a joke when foreign countries don't even have IP laws, and if they did, they'd be completely ignored.

No, what America has to offer, is Americans. Red blooded American kids, specifically.

Think about this; globalization is really in its infancy. China, Russia, and Europe are the only other realistic global powers, but nobody is situated as well as the US is. It's time to embrace globalization, extend American power and *ahem* extinguish the competition. It's not about American jingoism or Manifest Destiny. No, what the world of the future needs is a globally coordinated security apparatus. You need to move a steel and cotton in and out of Africa? Make nice with us, we'll let you do it, and we'll even provide security for you - for a price.

It's the capitalization of global security. It's the one thing we can offer and still make a profit. Because face it, the service economy of the US isn't making shit as long as we are selling Chinese made goods to each other.
posted by Xoebe at 5:03 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's the capitalization of global security.

It's been done before, by the Brits. I remember reading a history paper on how insurance rates for goods went through the roof after the Revolutionary War, because the US did not have the protection of the British navy when shipping goods across the Atlantic.
posted by FJT at 5:06 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The net result of the transaction is that we end up with a lot of military hardware and they end up with Treasury bills that we could pretty easily decline to redeem.

I'm no economist, but is there any scenario in which the U.S. repudiates T-bills that does not result in global economic meltdown quickly followed by warfare? Warfare which, I might add, we are dependent on technology that was to some extent sourced in China?

As an aside, I don't think we have even seen the merest beginning of China's latent, if not actual, electronic warfare capability. I don't think we -- in the general public at least -- have the slightest clue what they can do now or will be able to do inside a pretty close planning horizon.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:06 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


To say, ‘Well that was when we were in the middle of a war’ has no bearing on whether there are now more bases than there were then.

No, not in total, but the reason it's important to note the war is because that figure of 639 garrisons in the Philippines in 1901 isn't just a random representation of the U.S. presence in any foreign country you might pick out of a hat, you happened to choose the country we were in the process of military annexation of in that year. You made it sound like you had Googled and picked out something to illustrate the average overseas troop presence in the past.

It's like saying "Let's take a look at what things were like for the average student on college campuses in 1970" and opening up with the Kent State massacre. Not that Kent State doesn't have significance in characterizing the concerns of 1970 American college students, it's just that it doesn't represent their typical day.
posted by XMLicious at 5:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just trailed off into the internet tributaries of the Chagos Islands which doesn't even show up on google maps. This site isn't unbiased, but it does a nice job of tying all the historical facts into a readable (if tragic and infuriating) narrative
posted by dorcas at 5:16 PM on July 17, 2012


Why does America even need to project force around the world?

A lot of countries have effectively outsourced their security to the US. I have mixed feelings about the overall wisdom of this, but in places where there is not a clear military hegemony there are often nasty and long-running local wars. Same reason we have police forces; they're deeply flawed, but have you looked at the history of ad-hoc law enforcement before the establishment of institutional policing?
posted by anigbrowl at 5:39 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


but the reason it's important to note the war is because that figure of 639 garrisons in the Philippines in 1901 isn't just a random representation of the U.S. presence in any foreign country you might pick out of a hat, you happened to choose the country we were in the process of military annexation of in that year. You made it sound like you had Googled and picked out something to illustrate the average overseas troop presence in the past.

I don't know how you can get that out of a link to an Army War College paper about the Philippine Insurrection? The whole discussion is not about averages, but about highs.

It's like saying "Let's take a look at what things were like for the average student on college campuses in 1970" and opening up with the Kent State massacre. Not that Kent State doesn't have significance in characterizing the concerns of 1970 American college students, it's just that it doesn't represent their typical day.

The current U.S. basing doesn't represent a "typical day" either. It includes bases in Afghanistan.

It's like him saying "The California State University, Fullerton massacre" was the worst university shooting in the 60's and 70's. Then I point out that, I don't have any hard numbers about which one was the worst, but that the Kent State massacre was also pretty bad, so maybe there was another that was worse and we shouldn't just assume, but actually try to find some data.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 5:41 PM on July 17, 2012


You called a battleship Ponce? Really? Was it because of some vague association with seamen?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:42 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like the other Austin-class Amphibious Transport Docks, the Ponce is named for a US city.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:48 PM on July 17, 2012


Why does America even need to project force around the world?

If the US did not exert influence around the world, would Russia and China be taking its place? Would that be more or less favorable internationally? It seems at least part of the role these forces play is protecting the global economy, "stability," human rights, representative governments, self determination, etc. As horrible as U.S. foreign intervention has been, it seems a bit naive to suggest things would be better if the west didn't project any military power. Realistically unless someone really crazy is elected president or the PLA takes over China or something, I don't think this will end badly. Many have predicted that China will soon project much more militarily and eventually subsume Taiwan. South Korea and Japan will be left hanging. India could be a big counter weight. Hopefully this is an exaggeration, and the major powers become less threatening to each other. Then bases like these would not be needed or could be handed over to the African Union, U.N., etc.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:13 PM on July 17, 2012


viz. China's Port Expansion in the Indian Ocean
cf. Beijing Exhibiting New Assertiveness in South China Sea
posted by kliuless at 6:28 PM on July 17, 2012


...Same reason we have police forces; they're deeply flawed, but have you looked at the history of ad-hoc law enforcement before the establishment of institutional policing?

But if we need a global police force, surely we could create one that represented everyone. I recognize that the United States military does keep the peace in many places around the world, and I'd rather they were doing it than Russia or China. But why do those have to be our only choices? And why does your nation (seemingly) have to choose between being the "global cavalry" and becoming irrelevant? Surely there are more sustainable options. Maybe we do need a global police or cavalry with bases around the world, but something that's represented and supported by many different nations. Then there'd be no (or at least less) favoritism, and less need for countries to arm themselves.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


But that won't happen in our lifetimes.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:37 PM on July 17, 2012


Europeans cut military spending during economic crisis
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:50 PM on July 17, 2012


As horrible as U.S. foreign intervention has been, it seems a bit naive to suggest things would be better if the west didn't project any military power.
It's not an either/or. We already have bases around the world; this is about establishing more bases. Also, we're not talking about "the West," we're talking about the United States.

unless someone really crazy is elected president
I'm going to guess that I'm not the only person who thinks that this happened in fairly recent history, and that we're still picking the pieces up from it.

the major powers become less threatening to each other
Engaging in a major ramp-up in order to "project force" is probably not going to accomplish that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:02 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The key phrases to look out for in the coming years are 'Asia pivot' or 'pivot to Asia.'

Washington Post Editorial: A Proper Pivot Toward Asia

Jakarta Globe: Myanmar: As the US Pivots to Asia, It Needs To Balance Values With Interests

Reuters: Analysis: Obama's Asia "pivot" advances, but obstacles await

The Brookings Institution: Understanding the U.S. Pivot to Asia, a video of a panel discussion.
On January 31, the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at Brookings hosted a discussion examining the announced rebalancing initiatives and their likely impact, especially on U.S.-China relations. Panelists also analyzed two key pillars of this effort, the evolution of U.S. force deployments in Asia, and the development of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative on economic and trade issues.
Foreign Policy: America's Pacific Century

FP, again: Clinton Embraces the Navy -
'Will U.S. competition with China for naval dominance spark a new Cold War on the high seas?' CNN has video of part of her lecture at the Naval Academy.

Wired: Despite Asia Talks, Navy Will Send Newest Ships To MidEast
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:54 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why does America even need to project force around the world?

Force projection solves the two fundamental problems that every Imperial society faces: securing the inward flow of energy and resources necessary to sustain the functions of the imperial core; and ensuring markets to dump goods and services into.

Societies grow by solving problems (growing food; generating electricity; building roads; distributing water; etc.). Problem solving increases complexity. Complexity begets complexity.

Increasing complexity increases energy and resource demands. Diminishing returns to growth require energy and resource demand to grow faster than problem solving capability. A level of complexity is quickly reached, beyond which, the society cannot sustain itself on the resources available to it within its own sovereign territory. Thereafter, it must appropriate the energy and resources of other sovereign territories to sustain itself.

Since sovereign territories have their own societies with their own growth aspirations, and resources are finite, appropriation is contested. Force projection resolves that contest.

To create financial inflow to sustain the core, goods and services created in the imperial core from the resources appropriated from the periphery require must be exported. Exports require markets. Export in the global political economy is a zero sum game - there must exist some net sink market. Since being a sink denies the sink society export revenues, being a sink market is resisted. Force projection resolves that resistance. Since lack of access to a sink denies a competing empire export revenues, access to sink markets is contested. Force projection resolves that contest.

Some major trends:

(1) The US imperial core is now hypercritical: the level of complexity is now so great that it is at risk of imminent collapse (formally, a discontinuous loss of complexity)

(2) Resources critical to functions sustaining the imperial core, notably affordable formats of high EROI liquid hydrocarbon, are entering their global depletion phases, intensifying imperial competition

(3) Traditional imperial export sink markets are saturating and reversing, with no replacement

(4) Weapon miniaturisation is forcing asymmetric warfare, obviating current imperial military structures (e.g. the carrier battle group and all of its protective auxiliary and logistics fleet is an expensive, vulnerable and high risk anachronism )

To counter asymmetric warfare, the US is shifting to Unconventional Warfare (UW). UW exploits a variety of mechanisms. For example, the US military will cultivate opposing sides in a region of interest, foment conflict, then back one side with weapons and money to ensure that it prevails and becomes a client to the US, guaranteeing it access to its resources and markets. This process often goes wrong, and is the origin of the majority of so-called "enemies" the US now engages in conventional war e.g. Taliban, Pakistan insurgents, Al Quaida, Iraq rebel forces, etc. - previous failed US UW candidate clients.

Notwithstanding, the US is committed to UW, and therefore requires forward operating bases from which to conduct UW operations. That's what these "secret bases" are for.
posted by falcon at 12:28 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


tldr: because we're greedy assholes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:37 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Central as it's becoming to the long-term US stance, this global-basing reset policy has, remarkably enough, received almost no public attention, nor significant Congressional oversight.
This is a key point, and worth making sure you understand the significance of. A key trend in US governance in the last decade has been the shift of power into what is referred to as the "deep state" - the extra-legal institutions and activities of the state which are beyond public scrutiny and accountability.

To pull this off, the US has had to "securitise" certain threats i.e. assert that they present existential threats to the survival of the state, in order to justify going beyond normal security measures.

Some threats don't really present existential threat - a domestic terrorist attack, for example. They are simply stated as such in order to confer legitimacy on the response. But some certainly do - the US Army Strategic Studies Institute, for example, warns that the US must prepare for a ”violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States”, provoked by ”loss of functioning political and legal order” and ”unforeseen economic collapse” arising from peak oil.

Lots has happened in the deep state. The President has been given the power to unilaterally invoke martial law without reference to Congress. The military's powers under martial law have been dramatically widened, and US citizen's rights dramatically reduced. US troops are now being stationed on US soil on active duty, and trained in US urban civil disorder control and city lockdown tactics. Do any of you recall giving your permission for the installation of an airport security system that frisks old ladies in their wheelchairs? Absolutely no use in preventing terrorist attack. But it has been necessary to get you used to it ('social engineering', in the parlance of the deep state) ahead of time to ensure you submit to it after martial law is declared - all deep state decisions.
posted by falcon at 1:27 AM on July 18, 2012


that was a crap article. check out this paragraph:

"In Afghanistan, the US-led international force still occupies more than 450 bases. In total, the US military has some form of troop presence in approximately 150 foreign countries, not to mention 11 aircraft carrier task forces—essentially floating bases—and a significant, and growing, military presence in space. The United States currently spends an estimated $250 billion annually maintaining bases and troops overseas." [emphasis added]

the "US-led international force" is a super-broad term and the only way they came up with that number of 450 is to include every little Danish civil affairs office as a "base." and following that number up with US spending on "bases and troops" is deliberately misleading.
posted by moss free at 2:07 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


from the same author, in his links to support that number:

"Colonel Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), tells TomDispatch that there are, at present, nearly 400 U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan, including camps, forward operating bases, and combat outposts. In addition, there are at least 300 Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) bases, most of them built, maintained, or supported by the U.S."...

"After nearly a decade of war, close to 700 U.S., allied, and Afghan military bases dot Afghanistan. Until now, however, they have existed as black sites known to few Americans outside the Pentagon."

yes, "ANA and ANP bases" constitute "black sites known to few Americans outside the Pentagon." oh well, at least the author's intentions are obvious.
posted by moss free at 2:21 AM on July 18, 2012


tldr: Vital space, manifest destiny
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:37 AM on July 18, 2012


You said: Maybe we do need a global police or cavalry with bases around the world, but something that's represented and supported by many different nations.

But then:I recognize that the United States military does keep the peace in many places around the world, and I'd rather they were doing it than Russia or China.

Goes into a bit of answering your own question. You already mistrust Russia and China to be able to intervene or respond effectively to humanitarian crises, genocide, and other conflicts. So it would not make sense for the United States to form some sort of global gendarmerie with them. Heck, even when countries don't have mistrust there are still difficulties, like the European Union and EUFOR.
posted by FJT at 6:29 AM on July 18, 2012


furiousxgeorge: tldr: because we're currently the richest greedy assholes, so we can.
It was ever thus. Enjoy your time as an apex predator, T. Rex USA.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2012


You already mistrust Russia and China to be able to intervene or respond effectively to humanitarian crises, genocide, and other conflicts.

Can you think of any humanitarian crises or genocide that that the US has intervened in for their own sake, and not because they are proxies for a resource/market interest? I can think of plenty it hasn't, united by the common factor that none of them are 'interesting'.

The one that comes up here sometimes here is Bosnia, portrayed to the general public as a humanitarian intervention, and a good example of US UW operations. In fact, US Unconventional Warfare units destabilised Yugoslavia (seeding newspapers and pro-hate groups on both sides to aggravate historical tensions) and manufactured the Bosnian conflict in order to establish the pretext for establishing Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. This was the largest "from scratch" base since the Vietnam War, conferring overfly rights in the Balkans down to US oil interests in the Caspian, the resources to defend a suite of trans-Balkan oil pipelines, and $350 million in private contract construction costs.
posted by falcon at 1:45 PM on July 19, 2012


TomDispatch: Tomgram: Engelhardt, The National Security Complex and You
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2012


manufactured the Bosnian conflict

Cite? I'm not saying this rhetorically. I would genuinely like to see your sources on this.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:06 PM on July 19, 2012


See, for example, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Engdahl, 2004 P.238)

Extract available here
posted by falcon at 9:41 PM on July 19, 2012


An Amazon reviewer has pretty well summed up my reaction to Engdahl: "You don't have to be paranoid to believe that the British and US pursuit of oil has driven world events for the past century, that characters offstage manipulate world events.... That's the five-star part. The one star part is how these minutely-detailed sections on economic history and oil politics are broken up by patches of speculation--opinion, really--Engdahl presents as the truth."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:22 PM on July 19, 2012


Cheney: ‘Keep The Money Flowing’ To ‘Plan For The Next War’
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, you aren't going to get "the truth" by inspecting the public domain behaviour of an institution that operates out of the Deep State, and you are free to govern your life around whatever "truths" you choose, including the ones the British and US carefully manufacture.

But as with all intelligent reading, you evaluate the primary references and, in this case, the references are, in my opinion, sound. The National Endowment for Democracy's activities in Yugoslavia are well documented and entirely consistent with the thesis that the US destabilised the region and instigated the conflict that provided the casus belli. Nafeez Mosad Ahmed's "Crisis of Civiilasation" covers some of the same ground, and the references are of academic standard and forensic. And there is the matter of the rather large US base in the middle of the Balkans that wasn't there before, has no other purpose, and is otherwise without precedent.
posted by falcon at 1:23 AM on July 22, 2012


Escalation and Land Warfare in Offshore Concepts
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2012


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