With the Afghan Collapse, Calls to Get US Boots Off the Ground

August 25th, 2021 - by Green Party Peace Action Committee & Brad Wolf and Patterson Deppen / The Progressive

Statement on the Collapse of the Government of Afghanistan 

Green Party Peace Action Committee

 (August 20, 2021) — The sudden, calamitous collapse of the US-empowered government of Afghanistan is the consequence of 20 years of dishonest and incompetent foreign policy. The blame for this disastrous era lies squarely with the Washington foreign policy establishment, also known as the military-industrial complex.

This powerful alliance of defense contractors, government officials, academics, and media organizations has advocated bellicose policies and military adventurism that have spread ruin and chaos in nations across the globe. The failure in Afghanistan is only the latest and most stunning proof of the malignant and incompetent character of this pro-war establishment.

Madelyn Hoffman, co-chair of the Green Party US Peace Action Committee (GPAX) and candidate for Governor of NJ:
“The US media, as well as many of our elected officials, have incredibly short memories about the US role in Afghanistan. The current situation is the result of many years of illegal US attempts to gain control over a country strategically located in Asia. In violation of international, humanitarian and US law, the public was intentionally deceived by elected officials from both the Democratic and Republican Parties that it was necessary to invade, occupy and bomb Afghanistan.

This longest war in American history has drained the US treasury of trillions of dollars and inflicted terrible suffering on the Afghan people. Regime change wars are illegal and must be stopped. Those who lied us into this war must be held accountable for their war crimes. Officials from both the Democratic and Republican Parties must not walk away with impunity from this nightmare!

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS), unlike the Republican and Democratic Parties, has steadily opposed the militarization of US foreign policy. As the Peace Action Committee of the Green Party, we call for the following measures in response to the Afghanistan debacle: 

  1. A Congressional inquiry into the US military-industrial complex and its harmful control of US foreign policy.
  2. The resignation of all US government officials who provided false or misleading information on the political and military situation in Afghanistan.
  3. Termination of active and clandestine warfare by US forces in all foreign nations.
  4. Joining the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to hold our civil and military leaders accountable to basic standards of international criminal law. 
  5. Resumption of nuclear arms negotiations and restoration of abrogated arms control agreements.
  6. Substantial cuts in the US military budget.

Until the US breaks the control of the military-industrial complex over foreign policy, our nation is doomed to fighting more unnecessary wars and making costly preparations for future wars. We must turn away from the pursuit of war before it results in our nation’s moral and economic ruin. It is time to restore rationality and accountability to the foreign policy of the US, and the Green Party encourages all like-minded citizens to join this effort. 

Let’s Get Those Boots Off the Ground

Brad Wolf and Patterson Deppen / The Progressive & Portside

 (August 19. 2021) — Measured in terms of military bases, the United States has the largest empire in world history. It maintains 80 to 90 percent of all the foreign military bases on Earth. 

As US bases close, more are proposed or constructed elsewhere. And so the total number of bases remains vague and in flux, an arrangement quite conducive to the Pentagon.

The stated goal of this sprawling military footprint is to maintain peace, protect allies, defend trade routes, and support democratic ideals. But research shows that these bases have an opposite effect: They increase global tensions, stoke local resentment, endanger allies, pollute the planet, and increase the likelihood of war. 

The Pentagon sees its worldwide network of bases as part of its “full spectrum dominance.” It could also be called imperialism, colonialism, or the last desperate acts of an overstretched empire. 

Even the highest ranking member of the military, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, agrees that the United States, as he put last December, has “too much infrastructure overseas.” He called for “a hard, hard look,” stating that many overseas bases are “derivative of where World War II ended.”  

Yet the bases remain, scattered in so many far-flung locales that not even the Pentagon can keep count. But it does appear that the number of bases has been declining in recent years, to where it is at an all-time low for the twenty-first century. 

In Afghanistan, no US military bases remain. A little over a month before the Taliban’s rapid rise to power in Kabul this week, the US military left its last major stronghold, Bagram Airfield, late in the middle of the night. With ongoing drawdowns in Iraq, just six remain there. At the height of the “global war on terror,” there were hundreds of bases and smaller combat outposts across both countries. 

Yet, as US bases close, more are proposed or constructed elsewhere. And so the total number of bases remains vague and in flux, an arrangement quite conducive to the Pentagon.

In Guam, construction is now underway to build Camp Blaz, the first US military base in the territory since 1952. More bases are proposed on other smaller islands in the Pacific, including Palau, Yap, and Tinian. Dozens of smaller, more secretive bases span the globe, what the military now refer to as “lily-pad bases.” These can covertly house less than a hundred troops and occupy distant places unknown even to most members of Congress.

Why does the United States need so many overseas bases? The short answer is that it doesn’t.  

In response to the staggering number of US military bases abroad, the Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases, a group of fourteen organizations committed to closing all foreign bases, was created in 2017. It argues that these bases are the “principal instruments of imperial global domination and environmental damage” and sees closure as a necessary step toward a “just, peaceful and sustainable world.”

The Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition, launched in 2018, also seeks to make the world safer and more secure, as well as save billions of dollars, by reducing the number of bases. The group, made up of university professors, retired high-ranking military officials, and foreign policy institutes, states that maintaining so many foreign bases “undermines the safety of the country and the world.”

World BEYOND War’s “No Bases Campaign” actively seeks for the closure of all US foreign military bases. The Black Alliance for Peace, with its “US Out of Africa Network,” demands a complete withdrawal of US military forces from Africa, the demilitarization of the African continent, and the closure of all foreign military bases around the world. The Red Nation, an Indigenous-led political organization, cites the hundreds of US foreign bases as a major focal point of resistance in its most recent political program. 

These groups are seizing the moment as an opportunity for consequential change. The Biden Administration has committed to a Global Posture Review to reevaluate the deployment of military forces around the world. According to Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and David Vine, author of classic books on the topic, Base Nation and The United States of War, this Global Posture Review provides a chance to “close bases carefully and responsibly, save money, and build back US alliances and diplomatic presence worldwide.”

For many in government, it’s hard to imagine any other form of foreign policy aside from garrisoning the world. But the pressure from these groups and organizations, their diverse composition, and the soundness of their arguments, makes change seem possible. In a world rife with war, that change cannot come soon enough.

Brad Wolf, a former lawyer, professor, and community college dean, is co-founder of Peace Action Network of Lancaster and writes for World BEYOND War. Patterson Deppen serves on the editorial board at E-International Relations and is a member of the Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.