zaterdag 21 augustus 2021
vrijdag 20 augustus 2021
Patterson Deppen, America as a Base Nation Revisited
In January 2004, Chalmers Johnson wrote “America’s Empire of Bases” for TomDispatch, breaking what was, in effect, a silence around those strange edifices, some the size of small towns, scattered around the planet. He began it this way:
“As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize — or do not want to recognize — that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire — an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can’t begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.”
Seventeen years have passed since then, years in which the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan, across the Greater Middle East, and deep into Africa. Those wars have all been — if you’ll excuse the use of the term this way — based on that very “empire of bases,” which grew to a staggering size in this century. And yet most Americans have paid no attention to it whatsoever. (Remind me of the last time any aspect of that Baseworld featured in a political campaign in this country.) And yet it was a historically unique (and expensive) way of garrisoning the planet, without the bother of the sort of colonies older empires had relied on.
At TomDispatch, however, we’ve never taken our eyes off that strange global imperial edifice. In July 2007, for instance, Nick Turse produced his first of many pieces on those unprecedented bases and the militarization of the planet that went with them. Citing the gigantic ones in then-U.S.-occupied Iraq, he wrote: “Even with the multi-square mile, multi-billion dollar, state-of-the-art Balad Air Base and Camp Victory thrown in, however, the bases in [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates’ new plan will be but a drop in the bucket for an organization that may well be the world’s largest landlord. For many years, the U.S. military has been gobbling up large swaths of the planet and huge amounts of just about everything on (or in) it. So, with the latest Pentagon Iraq plans in mind, take a quick spin with me around this Pentagon planet of ours.”
Similarly, eight years later, in September 2015, at the time of the publication of his then-new book Base Nation, David Vine took TomDispatch readers on an updated spin through that very planet of bases in “Garrisoning the Globe.” He began with a paragraph that could, sadly enough, have been written yesterday (or undoubtedly, even more sadly, tomorrow):
“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.”
Today, even more sadly, Patterson Deppen offers the latest look at that global imperial structure, still standing despite the recent American disaster in Afghanistan, and for so many on this planet (as it isn’t for Americans), symbolic of the nature of the U.S. presence globally. His piece is based on a brand-new count of the Pentagon’s bases and reminds us that, since Johnson wrote those words about our Baseworld 17 years ago, remarkably little has changed in the way this country approaches much of the rest of the planet. Tom
The COVID-19 pandemic, like other catastrophes before it, got some of us hooked on phobic energy and terror. Why?
To read the news in the spring of 2021 was to encounter every day a deluge of columns, editorials and think-pieces – so many think-pieces – on the diverse psychological traumas unique to our liminal moment, our transition out of quarantine, our return to something pundits insist on calling ‘normal’. We read, for instance, about the stresses of returning to the workplace; of leaving pets and family from whom we’ve grown inseparable; of resuming the horrors of dating; of reckoning with the (that is, the pounds we’ve gained); and with the acceleration of addiction (around cent of drinkers said that their alcohol consumption had increased since the pandemic began). A recent video essay in The New York Times called ‘Are You Dreading a Return to “Normal”? You’re Not Alone’ chronicles a reluctance to return that is, counterintuitively, widespread.
today the situation is radically different. And Joe Biden would be doing our struggling, freezing country a great service if he suggested, with evidence, that with continued effort and reasonably good fortune, the era of emergency might be over by the Fourth of July.
Tell me are you in the habit of closing your eyes and relaxing because you are almost home from a long difficult drive, or do you wait until you park your car? Do you often lie down of the floor of your home because it’s almost bedtime, or do you wait and actually get in bed?
If you really would like to help, how about telling people to mask up, wash their hands, and stay the heck away from people as much as possible until this thing is ACTUALLY over, and not trying to get back to normal as soon as things look like they are starting to change? The beginning of a recovery is not a recovery.
sharing viruses has come to be understood as a mechanism of alliance, a way of forming consanguinity with strangers or friends. Through HIV, gay men have discovered that they can ‘breed’ without women.
when the tension and rivalry come to an end, that’s when your worst nightmares begin. All the power and intimidation of the state will seep out of your personal bloodstream. You will no longer be the main … [p]oint of reference. Because other forces will come rushing in, demanding and challenging. The Cold War is your friend. You need it to stay on top … And when the Cold War goes out of business, you won’t be able to look at some woman in the street and have a what-do-you-call-it kind of fantasy the way you do today.
‘You don’t know the connection? You don’t know that every privilege in your life and every thought in your mind depends on the ability of the two great powers to hang a threat over the planet?’
‘That’s an amazing thing to say.’
‘And you don’t know that once this threat begins to fade? … You’re the lost man of history.’
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