By Paul Balles

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ending the cold war, America breathed a sigh of relief.

A problem that should have been addressed at that point was neglected. The question that should have dominated American thinking: Do we really need to maintain the many US military bases abroad?

Twelve years after the Soviet collapse, America reportedly had 702 overseas military bases in about 130 countries and another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. That report failed to include a number of so-called secret bases and bases in the Middle East.

As military historian Chalmers Johnston observed, “…the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire….”

By 2009, the number of American bases outside of the USA had increased to over 1000. Anthropology professor David Vines said these represented “the largest collection of bases in world history.”

Vines added, “Officially the Pentagon counts 865 base sites, but this notoriously unreliable number omits all our bases in Iraq (likely over 100) and Afghanistan (80 and counting), among many other well-known and secretive bases.”

Where are all those military bases outside the military zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, and what purpose do they serve? “More than half a century after World War II and the Korean War,” wrote Vines, “we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea.”

Are the bases in Germany and Japan there to deter any present or future leaders in those countries from a repeat performance of the events that led to WWII or to the Korean War?

What Congress and the public hear from the administration and the military establishment is that these bases are necessary for national security. That, of course, is a paranoid claim.

The Vietnam War should have taught us that we weren’t invincible. Whatever affect it had on the thirst for power was short-lived. The power-grabbers needed the worldwide power stations for reasons other than fighting wars.

Hundreds of thousands of military personnel and their families had employment in jobs that kept the unemployment numbers down and raised few complaints from taxpayers who foot the bill. It also kept the military-industrial complex profitable.

The problem with the whole scheme is that hundreds of these military bases are located in areas that are not war zones, and their sole function is to assure America’s interests in a particular area.

The side effects of the entire scenario have been disastrous, and will continue to be. Personnel from the bases pose a clear threat to local communities and ultimately to America simply for being there.

Military personnel don’t have the same access to US entertainment that they had at home, so they become involved in drugs, excessive alcohol, prostitution and rape — the spoils of non-wars.

Equally heinous results come from the reactions provoked by a military presence anywhere.  American military personnel threaten the local cultures in such a way that they provoke the development of resistance. They create enemies.

That is exactly what happened with Osama bin Laden.  He had a persuasive argument against America’s hunger for world control and the threat that posed.

What is America doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? It’s called “nation building.” What business is it of America to be building other’s nations? It’s really none of their business.  It’s nothing more than the arrogance of power.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.

Also read:

Chalmers Johnson America’s Empire of Bases


  1. Cold Wind on the 25. Jul, 2010 remarked #

    The US is not pursuing American interest with its proliferation of bases across the world. America is a fiction the American people endure at the behest of the Corporate elite and lying media. There is no republic. The American people are unprotected, looted and criminalized by the lawless gang that occupies the US Congress. The US military defends Empire alone and not America or its people. Tyranny is at our doorstep and we must remember the US Military works for Empire and not the American people.

  2. Earlaiman on the 25. Jul, 2010 remarked #

    War is a Racket
    By Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC
    From a speech, 1933

    War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

    I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

    I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

    There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

    It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

    I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

    I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

    During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

    This is a speech which he gave in 1933. You can read his entire book of the same name, which elaborates on the same theme, at:

    Try it… it is a small book,, not too large for the limited attentions span or forth grade reading level of most Americans.

  3. Egoigwe on the 28. Jul, 2010 remarked #

    Thank you Professor Balles but I think your beautiful expose bears a little more examining. What and whose empire is America really protecting? The Military Industrial Complex is in actuality an Israeli military industrial complex as a wholesome portion of the profits thereof are controlled by and vested in Zionists or their minions. This translates to most innovations emanating therefrom being duplicated or simply stolen and stored in Tel Aviv.

    Most corporations we call American, are controlled by Jewish shareholders who pledge their loyalty to Israel first and are in their complete nakedness Zionists. Ditto American banks and bankers.

    British Petroleum should be British as the name suggests but from the unfolding scenario in the Gulf, we’ve also come to realize that it has such a stranglehold on America’s political processes that it can and did command movement while exercising total control over a large swath of territory considered American soil. On closer investigation, we discover that it is not so British after all, as we see the same Zionist hands and their puppets at play there too.

    It goes on and on, and in no true sense can the proceeds from most of these investments be said to be of any benefit to the average American on the streets.

    Without a shadow of doubt instead, it has been established that most of their tax-exempt dollars float back to Israel towards the continuing placement of Israeli settlements on Palestinian soil.

    I’d say, if you ask me, that those bases, in their real essence, constitute the tools of a roving and lawless gunman for hire, attending to the rapacious greed of a Zionist few, worldwide, that find the resources and cunning for obtaining its services.

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