Ann Garrison / Counterpunch – 2018-01-23 19:30:54
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Ann Garrison / Counterpunch
(January 19, 2018) — Late last year, a divided Congress approved a military spending bill of $700 billion, more than either the President or the Pentagon had requested. Hundreds of billions will go to US military bases and troops on foreign soil.
The US is the largest, most lethal military power in human history with seven geographic commands spanning the globe, but that didn’t stop the new Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases from holding its first conference at the University of Baltimore from Friday to Sunday, January 12 to 14.
Here are just a few voices from the conference.
Leah Bolger, retired US military commander, full-time peace activist, and past President of Veterans for Peace:
“This conference is the first action, the first event, of a relatively new coalition, which is a coalition against US foreign military bases that has come together with 13 charter organizations. We are joined to address the issue of US foreign bases, which are everywhere — somewhere between 800 and 1000. It’s ridiculous.”
David Swanson, co-founder of World Beyond War and author of the books “War Is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just”:
“Y’know, I watch a lot of basketball games because the University of Virginia is so darn good, and I’m just disgusted because at every single game, they thank the troops for watching from 175 — sometimes they say more than 175 or 177 — countries. They thank the “almost a million men and women serving our country.”
“They don’t explain what the service is, they don’t explain why they have to be in 177 countries. They don’t explain that there are only about 200 countries on Earth, and that there are at least a dozen more countries they’re not telling us about. These are the ones they admit to.
“What are they doing there? What are they needed for? In some cases, it’s thousands; in some it’s tens of thousands. There are 50,000 troops still in Germany, still winning World War II three quarters of a century later.
“It’s insanity and, of course, it costs hundreds of billions of dollars. People who think that we’re running low on money and we can’t afford things should understand that we could afford anything we wanted if we didn’t do things this stupid.”
Ajamu Baraka, Black Agenda Report Editor, Founder of the National Black Alliance for Peace, and 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate:
“We have a task before us this weekend. We have to struggle among ourselves to build a base line for unity, because we know that all of us may not be there in terms of being prepared to take a clear class line, we may not be in full agreement about what national oppression and national liberation mean, we may not agree about the character of this state.
“But we can agree that anytime you have this state involved in direct intervention, anytime you have this nation attacking another nation, that is a crime that all of us can be united in opposing.”
The Real News Network, based there in Baltimore, live-streamed the event from gavel to gavel, and I produced a brief KPFA Radio-Berkeley News report while watching and downloading audio. However, I seemed to be the only other press to take any interest, beyond the websites of the conference participants themselves.
So on Monday I nominated the conference and its video archive for a Project Censored Award. I recommend all eight sessions now on YouTube:
* Public Meeting/International Night; US Foreign Policy and the Strategic Role of Foreign Military Bases
* History and Economic Costs of US Foreign Military Bases
* The Environmental and Health Impact of US Foreign Military Bases
* South America and Guantanamo; Asia Pacific and the Pivot to Asia
* The Middle East: US/NATO Plan
* Europe and the Expansion of NATO
* AFRICOM and the Invasion of Africa
* Coalition’s Future Plan of Action
In the final session, reps from the 13 founding organizations met to hammer out their unity statement [see belw] and plan the next conference. The location isn’t yet set, but it will take place on US-occupied foreign soil, so there’s a world of possibilities.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, The Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City. In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases
We, the undersigned peace, justice and environmental organizations, and individuals, endorse the following Points of Unity and commit ourselves to working together by forming a Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases, with the goal of raising public awareness and organizing non-violent mass resistance against US foreign military bases.
While we may have our differences on other issues, we all agree 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 US foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
Our belief in the urgency of this necessary step is based on the following facts:
1. While we are opposed to all foreign military bases, we do recognize that 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). Presently, there are US military bases in every Persian Gulf country except Iran.
2. In addition, 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.
3. These bases are centers of aggressive military actions, threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. In addition, these military bases are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.
4. The annual cost of these bases to the American taxpayers is approximately $156 billion. The support of US foreign military bases drains funds that can be used to fund human needs and enable our cities and States to provide necessary services for the people.
5. This has made the US a more militarized society and has led to increased tensions between the US and the rest of the world. Stationed throughout the world, almost 1000 in number, US foreign military bases are symbols of the ability of the United States to intrude in the lives of sovereign nations and peoples.
6. Many individual national coalitions — for example, Okinawa, Italy, Jeju Island Korea, Diego Garcia, Cyprus, Greece, and Germany — are demanding closure of bases on their territory. The base that the US has illegally occupied the longest, for over a century, is GuantÃ¡namo Bay, whose existence constitutes an imposition of the empire and a violation of International Law. Since 1959 the government and people of Cuba have demanded that the government of the US return the GuantÃ¡namo territory to Cuba.
US foreign military bases are NOT in defense of US national, or global security. They are the military expression of US 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.
We must all unite to actively oppose the existence of US foreign military bases and call for their immediate closure. We invite all forces of peace, social and environmental justice to join us in our renewed effort to achieve this shared goal.
Signed (in alphabetical order):
* Bahman Azad, US Peace Council *
* Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace
* Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
* Leah Bolger, World Beyond War
* Sara Flounders, International Action Center
* Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
* Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace
* Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Coalition
* Alfred L. Marder, US Peace Council
* George Paz Martin, MLK Justice Coalition; Liberty Tree Foundation*
* Nancy Price, Womenâ€™s International League for Peace and Freedom
* Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
* Gar Smith, Environmentalists Against War
* David Swanson, World Beyond War
* Ann Wright, CODEPINK
* Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
* For identification purposes only.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.