The U.S. mil­i­tary bases abroad are dis­rupt­ing the world or­der

Tehran Times - - ANALYSIS - By Ma­sud Wadan

In years be­fore 2014, the Afghan think tanks would opine that the U.S. may wind down the Afghanistan’s con­flict through the end of this year, in­fer­ring that the goal of found­ing the nine large mil­i­tary bases across the coun­try is al­most ac­com­plished. Many would de­light­fully say that Afghanistan is phas­ing into a new chap­ter with the flames of war quelled as the U.S. gov­ern­ment in­sisted on troop withdrawal.

En­trench­ing mil­i­tary head­quar­ters in strangers’ ter­ri­to­ries has no ex­cuse or le­gal ground un­der any cir­cum­stances. The Afghan na­tion would cast aside ob­jec­tion to this per­ma­nent mil­i­tary foothold thanks in most part to the bit­ter re­al­ity that the U.S. op­er­ates about 800 enor­mous mil­i­tary sta­tions and in­stal­la­tions in more than 70 coun­tries world­wide, and would em­brace the ap­proach of so many other host coun­tries that are eco­nom­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily too pow­er­ful, pro­vided that they are of­fered the same peace­ful life the oth­ers en­joy.

Afghanistan’s war, no­to­ri­ous for be­ing pro­tracted and the length­i­est in the U.S. his­tory has spi­raled into a state the U.S. calls “out of con­trol”. Even if the U.S. de­ter­mines to end the war, com­mand­ing the very mil­i­tary bases in dif­fer­ent re­gion is quite a threat to hu­man life there, an im­pe­tus to likely war with re­gional ad­ver­saries. The per­pet­u­al­ity of Amer­i­can bases in Afghanistan – and per­haps else­where – is sub­stan­ti­ated with the com­ments of an Amer­i­can war ex­pert made in an in­ter­view last year that Afghanistan’s con­flict and cri­sis is bound to last for at least an­other fifty years

The largest U.S. mil­i­tary base by quan­tity of per­son­nel is sit­u­ated in Ger­many with over 9000 mem­bers. The world’s chal­leng­ing power claims that Europe-based mil­i­tary head­quar­ters safe­guard its al­lies in the con­ti­nent against Rus­sia; sta­tions in the Mid­dle East en­sure the free flow of oil and con­tain Ira­nian in­flu­ence, and bases in Asia in­clud­ing Afghanistan pro­tect its Asian al­lies from a ris­ing China and North Korea.

The re­al­ity is no coun­try in the world is will­ing to bully the other to a mea­sure that might re­quire build­ing up of as much huge and as many more bases. North Korea, for ex­am­ple, has been de­mo­nized in re­cent years through the lens of me­dia, but in­deed, after the brouhaha over threats from North Korea un­ex­pect­edly faded out, it un­veiled the se­cret be­hind it which was the in­stal­la­tion of THAAD de­fense sys­tem in South Korea’s bor­der with North. It elicited ex­ten­sive re­ac­tions from South Korean com­mu­ni­ties. It also opened the mind that the North Korea’s en­tire boast­ing of nu­clear ad­vances and test-fir­ings were just seen as potato-small chal­lenges that is over­played to al­low the U.S. place THAAD for ob­jec­tives be­yond the re­gion – China and Rus­sia.

The U.S. mil­i­tary se­niors are rea­son­ing that if they bring troops back home, they may be less safe. As a largest mil­i­tary op­er­a­tor abroad, hasn’t there been any so-called ter­ror­ist at­tack in the U.S. or other Euro­pean coun­tries so far. Or the num­ber of over­seas servicemen still needs to mount to con­tain th­ese risks.

In Septem­ber 2016, the new Philip­pine president, who rose against Amer­i­can poli­cies, told U.S. Special Forces to leave the south­ern Philip­pines, ac­cused them of fan­ning the flames of con­flict. Re­fer­ring to re­cast­ing of its for­eign pol­icy to­wards the Wash­ing­ton, he says:

“For as long as we stay with Amer­ica, we will never have peace in that land [Min­danao], we might as well give it up.”

Even dur­ing the Cold War, as Robert John­son has ar­gued, the Soviet threat was sub­ject to “un­due alarmism” and even with­out Amer­i­can forces de­ployed in Western Europe; a Soviet at­tack was extremely un­likely. Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions scholar Robert Jervis:

“The Soviet archives have yet to re­veal any se­ri­ous plans for un­pro­voked ag­gres­sion against Western Europe, not to men­tion a first strike on the United States.”

In 2005, the Uzbek­istan’s gov­ern­ment gave the U.S. a dead­line of six months to quit its large mil­i­tary base in south­ern town of Khan­abad which was also re­ferred to as K2. The mil­i­tary sta­tion was opened weeks after 9/11 to sup­ply lo­gis­ti­cal aid for the Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom in Afghanistan. Wash­ing­ton faced quandary and scram­bled to re­new the leas­ing agree­ment for the base, with U.S.$ 15 mil­lion al­ready paid to that date. The U.S. of­fered a hefty aid pack­age to make this for­mer Soviet strong­hold ac­cept the re­quest. But the or­der re­mained firm to take ef­fect.

The U.S. bases all over the world has back fired in many ways. Tak­ing Iran as ex­am­ple, the Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion­ary regime kicked off and beefed up its nu­clear en­rich­ment pro­gram due in main part to de­ter ris­ing U.S. bases on the east and west. By the same to­ken, North Korea so­lid­i­fied its of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive power, prompted to do so for the large-scale U.S. in­stal­la­tions in South Korea and Ja­pan.

Un­der present cir­cum­stances when the U.S. bases are over­whelm­ing the ju­ris­dic­tions of the en­emy states [Rus­sia, China or Iran], how would it re­act if one of ri­val states move its mil­i­tary base some­where close to the U.S.?

Apart from Afghanistan which is un­der out­right oc­cu­pa­tion, the rest of the world na­tions hous­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary bases feel be­long to colo­nial ter­ri­tory. In 1991, the Philip­pine Se­nate at­tacked on the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence, calling it tan­ta­mount to colo­nial­ism and af­front to Philip­pines sovereignty and then president Aquino ordered com­plete withdrawal.

Those U.S. mil­i­tary bases sit­ting some­where be­tween the ex­tremes of the U.S. and a po­ten­tial ri­val may play bul­wark to the U.S. de­fense. That is to say, th­ese mil­i­tary bases armed to teeth with ad­vanced war­fare are on the front­line and fire would ini­ti­ate from the same points as in­stant re­sponse or preemp­tive strike on the op­po­site fronts. What is vague to mind is to what ex­tent does the U.S. guar­an­tee the safety of the ac­com­mo­dat­ing states?

If Rus­sia or China points one arm to the U.S. in the event the chances of a hot war come to a head, the other is tar­geted at Afghanistan or oth­ers. No in­hab­i­tant would be in se­cu­rity. This the­ory, thus, dis­cred­its the le­gal­ity of mil­i­tary bases at all. If the U.S. goes to war with China over the South China Sea dis­pute, first it needs to de­liver a se­cu­rity guar­an­tee to Tai­wan, Ja­pan, South Korea and the Philip­pines. The last coun­try in row has al­ready backed down from the U.S.-China strife by ut­ter­ing “NO” to the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence there.

Afghanistan is the most de­fense­less of all sub­mit­ting states host­ing the U.S. troops. The U.S., as al­leged “cus­to­dian” of Afghan na­tion against for­eign ag­gres­sion [stated in Kabul-Wash­ing­ton Bi­lat­eral Se­cu­rity Agree­ment] has done the least for the dy­ing na­tion in re­turn for im­mense mil­i­tary bases it oc­cu­pied. There is no mod­ern de­fense sys­tem in place, other than some­thing to pro­tect the bases.

As a most de­struc­tive non-nu­clear bomb, the use of MOAB on Afghan soil alerts the Afghan ci­ti­zens about loads of such ex­plo­sives be­hind the perime­ters of the U.S. sta­tions. If there can be MOAB in their camp, there cer­tainly are other de­mol­ish­ing ord­nance like those used in lat­est truck bomb­ing in Kabul’s diplo­matic quar­ter that sent pow­er­fully blow­ing shock­waves to sur­round­ings.

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