Our country is a military empire, consisting of approximately 1000 facilities (not all are large enough to be considered bases), and spanning 150 countries; it costs us nearly a trillion dollars a year to maintain it in addition to the $600 billion Pentagon budget. Some are bases the equivalent of small towns, replete with fast food outlets, movie theaters, bowling alleys, laundromats and a shopping mall called the Post Exchange or PX.
To start with, every state hosts varying numbers of military facilities. In Ohio we have Wright-Patterson airbase near Dayton and a Coast Guard station in Lake Erie at Cleveland. Southern states have more.
In Germany there are 21 bases that have been there since World War II. Most noteworthy is Landstuhl Military Hospital. It is where our casualties evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are prepared for flight to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington for definitive care. There have been 32,000 casualties, including multiple limb amputees and severe traumatic encephalopathy. Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stieglitz calculated that by the time the last of the veterans from our occupation of Iraq alone dies, many of whom are wards of the United States government, our occupation of Iraq alone will have cost us $3 trillion! I would have thought that the Germans would like to be rid of the occupying Americans. They are apparently more enamored of the business activity, ultimately from American tax payers, generated by these bases.
In Africa, in a broad band across sub-Saharan Africa is the African Command, consisting of two forward operating bases, Camp Lemonniere in Djibouti and another on U.K.’s Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa; these serve a network of smaller facilities and “lily pads”. Many of these are service facilities for the drones that are spying on and rocketing small countries in the middle east, such as Yemen, where with the help; of a cholera epidemic, many are starving.
In Okinawa there are 25,000 troops, comprising 75 per cent of our troops still stationed in Japan since World War II. Our Seventh Fleet and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force are based there. The Okinawans regularly protest their presence to no avail. Japan nearly destroyed our automobile industry, courtesy of Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Who are we protecting them from?
In South Korea there are still 12 bases that are protested regularly, especially by older people. In an idyllic tropical island, called Jeju island, we are appending a new naval base, again despite the protests of many inhabitants.
In Thailand there are seven U.S. air bases. During our occupation of Vietnam, Thailand was a land-locked aircraft carrier.We are building five bases in the Philippines, despite the rhetoric from its president.
Maintenance of the empire, has bipartisan support; it may be unsustainable, however. We need to ask ourselves why we need to continue to base troops in these locations so long after World War II and the Korean wars? Do we intend to keep them there in perpetuity? At what cost?