Thursday, June 02, 2005

Base Motives: The Long March to American Empire

The estimable Mr. Engelhardt at TomDispatch offers this excellent overview of one of the most profound -- and unremarked -- developments in modern world history: the rise of an American empire of military bases, an iron chain of bristling outposts running along the Oil Arc through the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia. An excerpt:

"Put in historical terms, in the last decade-plus, as the pace of our foreign wars has picked up, we've left behind, after each of them, a new set of bases like the droppings of some giant beast marking the scene with its scent. Bases were dropped into Saudi Arabia and the small Gulf emirates after our first Gulf War in 1991; into the former Yugoslavia after the Kosovo air war of 1999; into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and those former Central Asian SSRs after the Afghan war of 2001; and into Iraq after the invasion of 2003. War in Iraq, in turn, has spawned at least 106 bases of various sizes and shapes; while a low-level but ongoing guerilla conflict in Afghanistan has produced a plethora of fire bases, outposts, air bases, and detention centers of every sort. It's a matter of bases and prisons where there is opposition. Just bases where there isn't. This, it seems, is now the American way in the world."