American empire most powerful in world history
As a college professor for more than 40 years specializing in the Constitution and current events, I have been deeply troubled by our nation’s tendency to become easily involved in the problems of other nations and, once militarily involved, we seldom leave. For years, I presented students a handout published by U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 19, 1998, showing a military presence in 31 foreign countries, 53 years after World War II. These included Germany (65,080), Japan (41,460), Italy (11,785) and even the United Kingdom (11,380).
Under the worthy goals of stopping the spread of socialism, then drugs, then terrorism, we seemingly invited ourselves into every conflict. Were globalists secretly using these causes to build an American empire? We seemed to have moved from defense to offense. No empire of yesteryear controlled or influenced more territory than we do today.
Today Wikipedia documents U.S. troops deployed in, not 31 countries, but in “more than 150 countries” (The New York Times says 172 — we have “troops in nearly every country”) around the world with thousands of military personnel still in the above-named countries 73 years later. Approximately a third of our troops serve outside the U.S. in places most Americans have never heard of, such as Aruba, Bahrain, Kenya and Qatar. And we have approximately 800 military bases encircling the globe, all in the name of “our” national security.
American soldiers are in active combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and are “actively engaged” in Yemen, Niger, Somalia, Jordan and Thailand. “Others are deployed as part of several peacekeeping missions, military attaches, or are part of embassy and consulate security. Nearly 40,000 are assigned to classified missions in locations that the U.S. government refuses to disclose” (“America’s Forever Wars,” New York Times, 23 October 2017). I have no issue with embassy and consulate security.
We have four new bases in Bulgaria. New bases are also in Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, from where the U.S. “controls all of the Balkans,” and Manas Air Base in Kyrgystan “from where the U.S. controls the airspace over Central Asia and most of the nations south of present-day Russia” — all once “member-states of the old Soviet Union.” And new bases have been popping up throughout Africa.
NASA has huge spy bases in Waihopai, New Zealand, and Geraldton, Western Australia, called the Global Electronic Surveillance System (sometimes dubbed America’s Secret Global Surveillance Network). Thus, these U.S. military bases “serve as surveillance and data centers” on other countries.
Huge naval bases throughout the world accommodate our gigantic U.S. warships such as at Changi Naval Station in Singapore. The U.S. Navy also has floating military bases called aircraft carriers that can be positioned anywhere on the seven oceans. These are known for their incredible strike capabilities, whether by planes dropping bombs in any direction hundreds of miles away or by launching cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk. Then there are super-carriers, of which we have 12; no other nation has “supers.” The USS George Washington can carry more than 6,000 sailors (a floating fortress), 70 warplanes and “4 million pounds of bombs” (Cora Fabros, “Bases of Empire — The Global Spread of U.S. Military and Intelligence Bases, Nov. 2008).
Bases differ in size. Some are city-size as is Ramstein Air Base in Germany, or Kadena Air Base in Okinawa or Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Others, called “lily pads,” are much smaller and house “drones, surveillance aircraft or pre-positioned weaponry and supplies.” But all have some influence over the host nation (David Vine, “The United States Probably has more Foreign Military Bases than any Other People, Nation or Empire in History,” September 14, 2015).
President George Bush best epitomized the globalist philosophy of military expansion when he wrote: “To contend with uncertainty and to meet the many security challenges we face, the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the longdistance deployment of U.S. forces” (George Bush, National Security Strategy,
2002) Unfortunately, this is the same doctrine historically advocated by other empire builders, even Stalin and Hitler. When is enough, enough?
But two presidents before him saw it differently. Ironically, each expressed such in farewell addresses just before leaving office. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the development of a “military-industrial-congressional complex,” a marriage feeding these entities, which is precisely what we have just described. Call it globalism. George Washington warned of the debt that could destroy the U.S. were we not to use “time of peace, to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned.” Unavoidable wars? We seek war!
U.S. bases within a country infer the host country’s loss of territorial sovereignty without formal political control, as was the old way of governing empires. It is a form of imperialism — even colonialism. The mere presence of military bases intimidates the host country and gives coercive power to the United States, enabling it to gain concessions from its host, even to interfere in domestic concerns. Some of us do not want our military to police the world, or our industrialists to govern it, or the crippling debt that accompanies it.
We would see things very differently if China or Russia had military bases in the United States or even Mexico. John F. Kennedy almost went to war with the U.S.S.R. when it sought to place nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.