Mon Nov 5th, 2007 at 07:32:21 PM EST
Still, it's obvious that our imperial busy beavers remain tirelessly at work -- and you could be one of them. A few other countries have the odd base or two abroad, but here's a stat to be proud of: It's estimated that 95% of all foreign bases on this planet are ours! That's no small boast. Just consider Okinawa, a Japanese island smaller than the Hawaian island of Kauai. The United States has 38 bases there that cover 19% of the island's prime real estate. That has to be a record.
If this is news to you, I'm not surprised. Here's the strange thing: We Americans garrison the globe in a way no people has ever done -- not the ancient Romans with their garrisons stretched from North Africa to distant Britain; not even the nineteenth century British with their far-flung naval coaling stations. Our garrisons around the world are our versions of "gunboat diplomacy" and colonialism all wrapped in one. They are functionally our modus operandi on the planet. Everyone out there knows about them, but few Americans are particularly aware of them.
Staggering billions, for instance, have gone into those state-of-the-art mega-bases in Iraq, and scores of smaller ones, since Baghdad fell in April 2003. They are presences, facts on the ground of the first order. No matter what anyone was saying in Washington at any moment, they spoke of permanence, of a desire to be in Iraq forever and a day; and yet the Iraq debate in the mainstream these last years has taken place almost without serious mention of them. You can turn on your TV and watch American journalists, standing somewhere in Camp Victory, report on other subjects. But when has one ever taken you on a simple tour of that mega-base?
The fact is: In Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, our garrisons regularly slip beneath the American radar. Think of it, perhaps, as a way to have our cake and eat it too. We manage to be an imperial presence on the planet without ever quite having to be reminded that we are part of an empire, an identification which rubs against the American grain.
The indefatigable Tom Engelhardt: Advice To a Young Builder
Longish, but well worth the read.
The extraordinary thing, as he points out here, is how this enormous projection of power is invisible to the average American. So much money is syphoned out of the US economy to pay (at nepotistic cost-plus rates) for this extravagant occupational presence, yet it remains invisible, the elephant in the livingroom apparently having somehow slipped Sauron's ring over its trunk.
"Why do they haaaate us?" Call a friend or buy a clue...