New Campaign: Close All US Military Bases On Foreign Soil

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The Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases is a new campaign focused on closing all US military bases abroad. This campaign strikes at the foundation of US empire, confronting its militarism, corporatism and imperialism. We urge you to endorse this campaign.

On the occasion of its announcement, the coalition issued a unity statement, which describes its intent as “raising public awareness and organizing non-violent mass resistance against U.S. foreign military bases.” It further explains that US 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.”

While the US sought to be an imperial force beginning just after the US Civil War and then escalated those efforts at the turn of the 20th Century, it became the dominant empire globally after World War II. This was during the time of de-colonization, when many traditional empires were forced to let their colonies become independent nations. So, while the US is the largest empire in world history, it is not a traditional empire in which nations are described as colonies of the US empire. Nations remain independent, at least in name, while allowing US bases on their soil and serving as a client state of the United States. They are controlled through the economic power of the US, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The US has used regime change tactics, including assassination and military force, to keep its empire intact.

Commentators have described the United States as an “empire of bases.” Chalmers Johnson wrote in 2004:

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.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage — Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

We do not know the exact number of US military bases and outposts throughout the world. The Unity Statement says “the United States maintains the highest number of military bases outside its territory, estimated at almost 1000 (95% of all foreign military bases in the world). . . . In addition, the United States has 19 Naval air carriers (and 15 more planned), each as part of a Carrier Strike Group, composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft — each of which can be considered a floating military base.”

The annual Department of Defense (DoD) Base Structure Report says the DoD manages a massive “global real property portfolio that consists of nearly 562,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures), located on over 4,800 sites worldwide and covering over 24.9 million acres.” They value DoD property located in 42 nations at over $585 billion. It is difficult to tell from this report the number of bases and military outposts, which has led analysts like Tom Engelhardt to describe US empire as an “invisible” empire of bases. He points out the US military bases are rarely discussed in the media. It usually takes an incident, like US soldiers being attacked or a US aircraft being shot down, for them to get any mention in the media.

Many of the bases remain from previous wars, especially World War II and the Korean War:

According to official information provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) and its Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) there are still about 40,000 US troops, and 179 US bases in Germany, over 50,000 troops in Japan (and 109 bases), and tens of thousands of troops, with hundreds of bases, all over Europe. Over 28,000 US troops are present in 85 bases in South Korea, and have been since 1957.

The number of bases is always changing as the US seeks to continuously expand its empire of bases. Just this week the US is opening a military base in South Korea, which is described as a city of 25,000 people. The Washington Post reports:

“We built an entire city from scratch,” said Col. Scott W. Mueller, garrison commander of Camp Humphreys, one of the U.S. military’s largest overseas construction projects. If it were laid across Washington, the 3,454-acre base would stretch from Key Bridge to Nationals Park, from Arlington National Cemetery to the Capitol.

* * *

Now, the $11 billion base is beginning to look like the garrison that military planners envisaged decades ago.

The Eighth Army moved its headquarters here this month and there are about 25,000 people based here, including family members and contractors.

There are apartment buildings, sports fields, playgrounds and a water park, and an 18- hole golf course with the generals’ houses overlooking the greens. There is a “warrior zone” with Xboxes and Playstations, pool tables and dart boards, and a tavern for those old enough to drink.

Starting this August, there will be two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. A new, 68-bed military hospital to replace the one at Yongsan is close to completion.

Also this week, it was reported that the United States has created ten new military bases in Syria. This was done without permission of the Syrian government and was exposed by Turkey in protest against the United States.

There is a cost to these bases, not only the $156 billion in annual funds spent on them, but also the conflicts they create between the United States and people around the world. There have been protests against the presence or development of US bases in Okinawa, Italy, Jeju Island Korea, Diego Garcia, Cyprus, Greece, and Germany. Some of the bases are illegal, as the unity statement points out, “The base that the U.S. has illegally occupied the longest, for over a century, is Guantánamo Bay, whose existence constitutes an imposition of the empire and a violation of International Law.”  Cuba has called for the return of Guantánamo since 1959. David Vine, the author of Base Nation, describes how these bases, which seek to project US power around the globe, create political tensions, are a source for military attacks and create alliances with dictators. They breed sexual violence, displace indigenous peoples, and destroy the environment.

The unity statement of the Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases concludes by urging all of us to unite to close US bases around the world because:

U.S. foreign military bases are NOT in defense of U.S. national, or global security. They are the military expression of U.S. intrusion in the lives of sovereign countries on behalf of the dominant financial, political, and military interests of the ruling elite. Whether invited in or not by domestic interests that have agreed to be junior partners, no country, no peoples, no government, can claim to be able to make decisions totally in the interest of their people, with foreign troops on their soil representing interests antagonistic to the national purpose.

Please endorse the statement and join the campaign to remove US military bases from foreign soil.

  • Dave Constable

    What would happen to all those USA military base golf courses American tax payers paid for, and pay for?

  • Robert H. Stiver

    I’m all for this campaign! Thank you. (I did endorse it, w/comment, as offered in the lead-in…I looked for but couldn’t find how many have signed on to date. I’d be very interested in being provided periodic updates as to the endorsement’s progress and population–and of course achievement of the campaign’s raison d’etre.)

  • ignasi

    If the US Army quartered,the World would be at Peace

  • Aquifer

    “New” campaign to close foreign military bases? Jill Stein ran on that in her ’16 Pres. campaign, so where were all these folks then?

  • chetdude

    Trump, the Palmer Group and the Ritz-Carlton would get ‘em…

  • kevinzeese

    As have many, including Nader long ago. This is not about a political campaign but a movement campaign that organizes people to build a movement to accomplish the goal.

  • Aquifer

    That’s the problem – it’s not about a political campaign …. but who will be the ones who actually close those bases – the folks we put in office …..

  • kevinzeese

    Of course we need to elect anti-war, anti-empire candidates. Building a movement around these issues will produce candidates who represent the movement so the next Jill Stein has a chance to get elected. Movements lead and politicians follow, including third party politicians who should represent the people’s movement. (Stein did so on many issues.)

  • Aquifer

    As you pointed out – Nader made this an issue “long ago” – so where was “the movement” then …

    And will the movement get behind Jill Stein as she continues to push this issue? She has “followed” these movements ….

    I hope “the next Jill Stein” is the same as the last Jill Stein – but why anyone would want to be “the next Jill Stein” when the last Jill Stein, chosen by the overwhelming majority of “her” party in ’12 and ’16 then gets tossed under the bus by that party, I can’t imagine … I sure would think twice about it ..

    I have heard this over and over again over the past years, yeah, years – about “movements first from which leaders arise which we THEN push to elect” – but we have had leaders arise – Stein, IMO, is one of the best – only to be shafted or “condemned with faint praise” …. nobody ever seems quite good enough to meet the approval of TPTB in party structures …

    The majority of folks have indicated, for some time now that they are behind these ideas – the time is long past to get beyond “movements”, we have them coming out of our ears, and get serious about elections …. I grow old and grey waiting on “movements” as elections come and go and things get worse and worse …

    The left can get “movements” basically at the drop of a hat – you can’t swing a cat without hitting one … What the left apparently can’t, or won’t, do is come behind a leader and put her in office ..

  • What’s the hash tag for this campaign?

  • Jim

    In the same sense that a graveyard is “peaceful”.

    The USA people are not even the “living dead”, we are only the “existing dead” (“life” does not apply when you exist in a constant state of extreme economic terror kept ramped up to the max by the government).