Thursday, June 29, 2006

The US Military Bases

“The Department of Defense is one of the world’s largest landlords with a physical plant consisting of more than 571,900 facilities (buildings, structures and utilities) located on more than 3,748 sites, on nearly 30 million acres” (121 400 km2) says the Base Structure Report for Fiscal Year 2005 of the US Department of Defense based on data collected as of September 30, 2004. The report also states that 98% of this acreage is located in the United States or U.S. Territories. This means that US DoD owns or leases an area slightly smaller than Mississippi, or half of the UK.

According to the report “while over 79% of the 3,748 DoD sites are located in the United States or U.S. Territories, the majority of the foreign sites are located in three countries; Germany (302 sites), Japan (111 sites), and South Korea (106 sites). The remaining 251 overseas sites are dispersed among 36 other foreign countries.”

However, this is not the complete picture. Because, in order to qualify for entry in the report the site located in a foreign country must be larger than 10 acres or have a Plant Replacement Value greater than $10 million. Moreover, it must be owned or leased by the DoD. Facilities provided by other nations at foreign locations are not included. It is because of this reason that one does not see all the US military bases abroad reported by DoD.

For example the US military bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Hungary, Austria, Uzbekistan, Israel, Bulgaria, Honduras, UAE, Qatar, and Honduras etc. are not listed in Bases Structure Report. For a comprehensive list of US military bases with maps see GlobalSecurity Website. Also, see Dr. Sarah Meyer’s site for a very detailed analysis of US bases in Iraq. Still, they are not complete.

An article by Chalmers Johnson, which appeared on TomDispatch in January 2004, tackles the issue of “missing” military bases but with no success.

Which ever source you look at you can be sure that you will never find out how many US military bases exists worldwide. British Empire had only 35 military bases abroad, easy to count.

“On any given day, nearly 350,000 men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are deployed or stationed in approximately 130 countries,” says the Quadrennial Defense Review Report 2006

Note that according to McDonald’s Corporation 2004 Summary Annual Report McDonald’s operates and franchises more than 30,000 local restaurants in 119 countries only. Something countable.

What is the reason for having such a colossal base structure which is apparently not countable, and why is this secrecy then?

Johnson argues that “Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that grows with it. Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other.”

President Harry Truman declared is reported to say at the Potsdam Conference on August 7, 1945 that “we are going to maintain the military bases necessary for the complete protection of our interests and of world peace.” History, however, shows that military bases go far beyond the protection of peace or the role liberating power, and is becoming a tool for occupation, domination and imperialism.

In fact, in March 2002 issue of Monthly Review the editors made the reasoning of ever expanding US military overseas bases very clear: “The global expansion of military power on the part of the hegemonic state of world capitalism is an integral part of economic globalization. To say no to this form of military expansionism is to say no at the same time to capitalist globalization and imperialism and hence to capitalism itself.”

Dr. Zoltan Grossman questions whether new US military bases are side effects or causes of war. His presentation on history of US military interventions, from Wounded Knee (1890) to 2006, is worth looking at.

All these issues bring us to the name of Department of Defense. The US Department of War (established 7 August 1789) was renamed the Department of Defense on 10 August 1949. I think time has come the Department of Defense reconsiders its name. There are two alternatives: “Department of War” or “Empire of Defense.”


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