The Mistake of 700 American BasesSubmitted by LatinsforPaul on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:11
Have Overseas Bases Been a Mistake?
by William Pfaff, January 08, 2010
PARIS — It is time to ask a question that virtually no one in an official or political position in the United States is willing to contemplate asking. For a person in a responsible public position to pose this question would be to risk exclusion from the realm of "serious" policy discussion. It could be, as they say in the bureaucracies, "a career destroyer."
It would be like declaring that after long analysis you had come to the conclusion that the world is indeed flat, and not round. A round earth is merely an illusion, which everyone has accepted, and adapted to — and fears challenging.
My question is the following. Has it been a terrible, and by now all but irreversible, error for the United States to have built a system of more than 700 military bases and stations girdling the world? Does it provoke war rather than provide security?
Each of six world regions now has a separate U.S. commander with his staff and intelligence, planning and potential operational capabilities. Central Command, based in Florida, currently is responsible for America’s Middle Eastern and Central Asian wars.
The other five commands — Atlantic, Pacific, Southern (for Latin America), Africa and Europe — oversee in detail what goes on in their assigned portions of the world, generating analyses, appreciations, and scenarios of possible reactions to a myriad of perceived or possible threats to the United States.
Each commander also makes contact with regional government military forces, so far as possible, cultivating good relations, professional exchanges and training. Each promotes training missions to the U.S. and military aid, and supports equipment purchases.
Each regional commander controls "main operating bases" abroad, which in turn support fully manned "forward operating sites," usually including permanently stationed American forces and an air base.
Beyond them, "cooperative security locations" are established, shared with the forces of allies or clients.
The hegemonic implications and intention of all this, which provides the military structure from which to conduct global interventions (or indeed a third world war), are readily acknowledged in Washington, and motivated by what Washington considers internationally valid and constructive reasons.
The unthinkable question with which I began this article was whether all of this has been a ghastly mistake. Many Americans question or oppose this system, but ordinarily with anti-militarist motives, or because they see it as imperialist, or part of an interventionist or aggressive foreign-policy outlook that they oppose.
My reason for questioning it is that it generates apprehension, hostility, and fear of the United States; frequently promotes insecurity; and has already provoked wars — unnecessary wars.
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