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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sorrows of Empire

Good interview with Chalmers Johnson from LA Weekly.
By an American empire I mean 725 military bases in 138 foreign countries circling the globe from Greenland to Asia, from Japan to Latin America. This is a sort of base world ó a secret, enclosed, separate world where our half-million troops, contractors and spies live quite comfortably around the world. I think thatís an empire. Granted, the unit of European imperialism was the colony. The unit of American imperialism is the military base.

These American bases are an outgrowth of U.S. containment policy from the Cold War. Whatís their role now? Are they just pork? Or are they there to defend U.S. investment?

What they donít do is defend U.S. security. They just grew, whether or not they had or have strategic value. We have 101 bases today in Korea even though the war has been over for 50 years. Once created, the military is endlessly creative in finding new functions for them, long after their real value has evaporated. This base world becomes part of the vested interest we associate not with security but with militarism, the danger of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against.