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Garrisoning the Globe: How US Military Bases Abroad Undermine National Security and Harm Us All


Garrisoning the Globe: How US Military Bases Abroad Undermine National Security and Harm Us All

David Vine

With the U.S. military having withdrawn many of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans would be forgiven for being unaware that hundreds of U.S. bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops still encircle the globe. Although few know it, the United States garrisons the planet unlike any country in history, and the evidence is on view from Honduras to Oman, Japan to Germany, Singapore to Djibouti.


Extermination without representation--where was that written?


The imbecile George W. Bush once asked: "why do they hate us?" One reason "they" hate us is spelled out by David Vine in his excellent article: because we have military bases in other people's countries, and we use these bases as part of our futile violent effort to dominate the world.

Of course, most Americans have had no say in crafting the "empire of bases." The architects of this totalitarian system of military control reside in the Pentagon and other government agencies. Consciously or sub-consciously, these predatory bureaucrats serve the interests of the ruling class and the corporations. The bases exist to make the world safe for capitalism, which is precisely why the end of the Cold War saw no decline in the number of overseas installations run by the US military. The public is offered a false narrative that the bases are integral to "national security," but as Mr. Vine points outs the very presence of US troops in foreign nations makes us all insecure, because it leads to unpredictable forms of violent resistance. It's obvious that the plague of terrorism now sweeping the world is an outcome of US meddling here, there, and everywhere. Terrorism thrives because "the empire of bases" provides many targets and people who are resentful of American power know full that they cannot face the monster head on, so it only makes sense to throw bombs into crowds.

The public mind in the United States has been lobotomized by nationalistic schooling and the totalitarian media that misinform the citizenry from morning through to night. Many Americans have the childish notion that the rest of the world is happy to have American troops on their soil providing "security." Many Americans think that Guantanamo bay IN CUBA is just another piece of American territory. The brainwashed American is almost like a medieval peasant in their provincialism and chauvinism, except the American is living in a post-modern world of unparalleled cosmopolitanism. Vine points out that the idea of foreign bases on American national territory is simply "unthinkable" for most Americans. But the NeoCons can say that Iraqis will welcome the invading American forces with flowers and open arms, and not a few Americans accept this preposterous story with nary a hint of cognitive dissonance. You almost despair for the future of humanity when you consider how easy it is to get people to "buy into" the Big Lie.

Anyone who knows anything of the US military will easily recognize the portrait painted by Vine. The military is virtually an alternative society, with its own schools, churches, housing, etc, etc. Vine tells us that the military runs a 170 golf courses across the world. Presumably, this is to keep the officer class happy, by reminding them of the soulless suburbs in which they grew up. The ordinary soldiery has to make do with bars and brothels and other such diversions. It is well known that American solider endear themselves to the locals by raping young women, and creating mayhem wherever they are stationed. Obviously, this kind of behavior does not go down too well in a theocratic police state like Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia is supposed to be one of our allies!

Vine points out that the economic costs of maintaining bases across the world. This is no small issue. The military is a deadly parasite inside the host of the body politic. In order to feed itself and to keep growing, the bloodsucking military absorbs more and more of the social product, until there is no money for school books or health care. I just heard today that the city of New Haven in CT is launching an initiative in the schools to provide dental care to poor children. The US is a nation that takes care of the predatory/parasitic military before it takes care of anything else. It's becoming clear that in order to make the world safe for capitalism you might have to destroy the United States as a civilized nation.


I have decided to run for POTUS on the following platform. We deed all of our bases, including aircraft carriers and stateside bases as well, to the Chinese. They populate each base with their own military personnel and assume all annual operating costs in perpetuity. They become the world's most despised nation, their infrastructure falls into disrepair, and terrorists redirect their outrage to China. The only problem with my brilliant proposal is that the Chinese government is not stupid and would refuse this deal. There is only one government on this planet that thinks being the world's bully is smart.


The writer talks of a plague of terrorism.
Where is this plague other than on the TV screen?
Look at stats - it is all so utterly phoney. 9/11 doesn't even equate to 1% of Americans killed by Americans since.
And ISIS is fighting a war - only rebadged as terrorism to keep us all frightened.

Making a population frightened to control them is a supreme but cheap trick that any true patriot act would punish with jail or worse.


For those who really want to dig deeper than David Vine's useful book, the Blowback Trilogy by Chalmers Johnson is must reading. The titles include:

Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic

There are capsule reviews of all three books here:



David Vine has already admitted he was slow to catch on to the nature of US bases as the forward edge of its predatory foreign policy, "for most of my life, I rarely thought about military bases."
He's also not up to speed on the reality of money. "Think about what $85 billion per year would mean in terms of rebuilding the country’s crumbling civilian infrastructure."
As if money were real and was limited in amount.
Can't say I'm impressed with this article but then perhaps it's written for those who are yet to be aware of Chalmers Johnson and his very trenchant ideas with the facts to back them up. In which case, I have to admit that he is providing a service for others if not for me. Sometimes I get tired of having to make that excuse over and over and over. But there it is. And yes, I am feeling grouchy today.


"Worldwide, the military runs more than 170 golf courses."

So THAT explains why the USA has 1000+military bases around the world.

I am sure that the British Empire didn't go to such trouble to protect its overseas cricket pitches...........


another wordy, poorly written (in parts) article on a worthy subject that once again,promulgates the myth of Osama bin laden causing 9/11 . it must be a Toms Dispatch Affair as all of their writers recent "contributions" have promoted this totally false story.

what is going on over there at Toms Dispatch and why is it being echoed over here at CDs?


I publicly challenge these two news outlets to prove this or print retractions. Stop perpetuating these O.C.T. falsehoods and kiddietoon fairystories.

lets see you both put your beliefs in the Original Conspiracy Theory right here in print , in public. I hope your references are better than the worthless US NEWS citation of "Osama bin Laden’s professed motivation for the 9/11 attacks". My High School teachers would have a field day marking your articles up with red ink and maybe giving you all a C. Seriously,you people need to get an editor to help you de-word (my word) and organize these high school papers and then show you how to research them and use citations. lots of good info but poorly/overly worded.


I agree. It's gotten too obvious and redundant. In addition, many from Mr. Engelhardt's "stable of writers" do to militarism what liberal reformists do for Capitalism. Make apologies and pretend that they are devoted to providing better "services" through both. No matter how often Mr. Engelhardt and friends provide detailed tallies chronicling all the waste, never are those who benefit from "these losses" discussed. Those, of course are the weapons suppliers, the weapons' designers, with another being those who make a commission on seeing to it that this unstable world is thoroughly awash in dangerous weapons. So the frame of U.S. military not winning wars--constantly repeated by The Tom Dispatch Team never looks honestly at "cui bono."

The constant repetition of Official Narratives added to the incurious manner by which so many of Tom Engelhardt's writers JUSTIFY militarism suggest State Department collaboration and/or funding. The blind acceptance of the 911 Official Fiction lends further evidence to this likelihood. And I have boldly stated this before. Glad to see someone else has taken notice.