By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
The United States cannot be a moral or ethical country until it faces up to the realities of US empire and the destruction it causes around the world. The U.S. undermines governments (including democracies), kills millions of people, causes mass migrations of people fleeing their homes, communities and countries and produces vast environmental damage.
A new coalition, the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, held its inaugural event January 12-14, 2018 at the University of Baltimore in Maryland. The meeting was framed by a Unity Statement that brought together numerous peace and justice organizations. The basis for unity was:
"U.S. foreign military bases are the principal instruments of imperial global domination and environmental damage through wars of aggression and occupation, and that the closure of U.S. foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world."
You can endorse the statement here.
Responsibility to End Global Empire of Bases
Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace and the vice presidential candidate for the Green Party in 2016 opened the conference, describing the responsibility of the people of the United States (USians) to protect the world from U.S. aggression. He argued:
"The only logical, principled and strategic response to this question is citizens of the empire must reject their imperial privileges and join in opposing ruling elites exploiting labor and plundering the Earth. To do that, however, requires breaking with the intoxicating allure of cross-class, bi-partisan 'white identity politics.'"
This reality conflicts with one of the excuses the U.S. uses to engage in war--so-called "humanitarian wars," which are based on the dubious legal claim that the U.S. has a "responsibility to protect." The United States is viewed as "the greatest threat to peace in the world today" by people around the world. Thus, USians need to organize to protect the world from the United States.
U.S. empire is not only a threat to world peace and stability but also a threat to the United States. Chalmers Johnson, who wrote a series of books on empire, warned in his 2004 book, "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic," that there were four "sorrows" the United States would suffer. In the 14 years since they have all come true:
"If present trends continue, four sorrows, it seems to me, are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative impact guarantees that the United States will cease to bear any resemblance to the country once outlined in our Constitution. First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a growing reliance on weapons of mass destruction among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut. Second, there will be a loss of democracy and constitutional rights as the presidency fully eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from an "executive branch" of government into something more like a Pentagonized presidency. Third, an already well-shredded principle of truthfulness will increasingly be replaced by a system of propaganda, disinformation, and glorification of war, power, and the military legions. Lastly, there will be bankruptcy, as we pour our economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchange the education, health, and safety of our fellow citizens.
The footprint of U.S. empire are what Chalmers Johnson called an "empire of bases." David Vine, the author of "Base Nation," put U.S. empire in context by describing 800 U.S. bases in 80 countries and U.S. military personnel in more than 170 countries. Bases range from so-called Lily Pad Bases of hundreds of troops to town-sized bases of tens of thousands of troops and their families. He noted many bases have schools and they do not need to worry about heating or air conditioning, unlike schools in Baltimore where parents bought space heaters to keep children warm and where schools were closed due to lack of heat.
The contrast between Baltimore schools and military base schools is one example of many of the heavy price USians pay for the military. Vine reported that $150 billion is spent annually to keep U.S. troops on bases abroad and that even a Lily Pad base could cost $1 billion. More is spent on foreign military bases than on any agency of the federal government, other than the Pentagon and Veterans Administration.
The Pentagon is not transparent about the number of U.S. foreign bases it manages or their cost. They usually publish a Base Structure Report but have not done so in several years. The Pentagon only reports 701 bases, but researchers have found many, even significant bases, not included in their list of bases.
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