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America’s growing footprint on the world

Most American citizens are blissfully ignorant of the extent to which America uses its armed might to control the world. Its 13 naval task forces built around aircraft carriers patrol the oceans, each one capable of launching a medium sized war thousands of miles from America’s shores. It now has well over half a million service personnel deployed in over 700 bases which encircle the world. Many of these bases are secret and unlisted.

In the aftermath of the Cold War a new rationale had to be found for this extraordinary network of military power. The Bush administration developed the concept of ‘preventive war’ and the ‘War on Terrorism’. More recently it talks of an ‘arc of instability’ which stretches from the Andean region of South America through North Africa, then sweeping across the Middle East to the Phillipines and Indonesia. This conveniently coincides with the world’s key oil reserves and provides legitimacy for US intervention almost anywhere in the developing world.

Self-contained

America’s overseas bases bring big profits to arms manufacturing and civilian industries alike. Some, like the Kellogg, Brown

Camp Bondsteel - the biggest US base in Kosovo, completed in November 2000 at a cost of $350 million

and Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, have secured huge contracts to build and maintain the far-flung outposts of empire. Thus US servicemen and their families are comfortably housed, fed and entertained with plenty of desirable rest and recreation facilities within reach. Their world is a closed-off, self-contaned existence with its own radio and TV stations, supermarkets and even its own airline - the Air Mobility Command with its own fleet of long-range C-17 Globemasters, C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters, KC135 Stratotankers, KC10 Extenders and C-9 Nightingales. For the most senior personnel there are Learjets, Gulfstream IIIs and Cessna Citation luxury jets to fly them to any one of 234 military golf courses around the world, or to the armed forces ski and vacation centre at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps.

To try to contain the huge costs of this empire of bases in a rapidly changing world, the Pentagon talks of restructuring America’s overseas deployment, closing bases where there is a historic Cold War concentration such as Germany, Japan and South Korea as well in the United States itself. But it faces real difficulties. The sheer cost of moving and rehousing 70,000 personnel from Germany makes any rapid re-deployment

impossible. In addition senior officers are often reluctant to move to a less attractive location in Asia or Eastern Europe. Part of the plan is to cut the number of military bases on American soil but even than is running into opposition. Several US senators are now insisting that foreign bases should be closed before considering base closures on their own patch in the US mainland. Meanwhile there is no let-up in the pace of new base construction overseas.

Staying in Iraq

These include at least 4 and perhaps as many as 6 new permanent bases in Iraq, giving a lie to the claims that the US intends to withdraw from that country. In April 2006 the Christian Science Monitor reported that the US has already spent $1 billion on construction work. Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad, occupies 15 square miles, boasts 2 swimming pools, a gym, a miniature golf course and first-run movie theatre. It is planned to accomodate 20,000 soldiers. Camp Taji, a former Republican Guard barracks, is now a huge US base equipped with a Subway, Burger King and Pizza Hut on the premises. And as if to emphasise its permanent presence, the United States is constructing a massive new Embassy Compound in the

Driver at Camp Anaconda, Iraq

heart of Baghdad - agigantic project ten times the size of the typical US embassy and the size of 80 football fields. It will have its own sources of power and water.

The Pentagon has clearly decided that Iraq will be the centre for its Gulf area operations after it was forced to close its bases in Saudi Arabia.

But despite all the talk of ‘repositioning’ very few bases have been closed in comparison to the number of new bases established. The ‘restructuring’ debate may even be a deliberate smokescreen to disguise the steady build-up of US power across the globe. New bases have been built or are in construction in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Pakistan, India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Vietnam, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Georgia, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan. And this list is far from comprehensive.

Alan Mackinnon

Scottish CND
Annual Conference

Saturday 4th November 2006
10.30 am – 4.30 pm
Renfield St Stephen’s Church Centre, Bath St, Glasgow

Deadline for Resolutions and Nominations for the Executive: Thursday 28 September
Deadline for Amendments to Resolutions: Tuesday 31 October
Members and supporters can attend on the day without registering in advance, but if you wish to be posted the papers for conference please register before Friday 20 October.

CND is a co-sponsor of the event in Manchester and ‘No Trident
Replacement’ is one of the agreed slogans.
Buses
Glasgow - 20 buses expected to be leaving from George Square & University Ave at 7am - price is £10/£15/£20 depending on income - contact Lorraine 07737 595 093
Edinburgh- 10-15 coaches leaving Waterloo Pl at 7am - contact Pete Cannell 07773 423 051
Aberdeen - buses going - contact Roddy 01382 223 610
Dundee bus leaves at 6am, and leaves Manchester at 4pm - price £25 - contact Roddy 01382 223 610

perfection had quite a cost. The first gas chambers were actually built for disabled people, which is still news to some. My question though is whether the British were any more humane than the Nazis in their experimentation? And I think not. Let’s not kid ourselves that this was ever a nobler cause. We wanted the power to annihilate en masse and at will. These were and still are the weapons of empire.

This particular piece of our history is not commonly known – and where it’s known it’s often denied. It serves us well to remember our past though, as our dalliance with all things nuclear seems far from over. The only reason, and it’s far from an acceptable one, that I can think up for keeping the genocidal technology to hand is so we can blackmail our way into an unfair share of the planet’s finite resources. The rest of the rhetoric is purely a smokescreen. The empire strikes back.

In February, this year, the US and UK embarked on further nuclear testing. This test was of a “subcritical” type and not designed to provoke an explosion. It took place 1000 feet below the Nevada Desert. The information they hoped to glean concerned the effects of aging in nuclear materials such as uranium. We are told that the information was required in order for us to take proper care of our existing nuclear stockpile. And if they happen to stumble upon something useful for the next bomb, all well and good!

Morag Balfour

 

 

 
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