Tag Archives: American empire

750 Bases in 80 Countries Is Too Many for Any Nation: Time for the US To Bring Its Troops Home, by Doug Bandow

Shutting down bases would signal a winding down of the American empire. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

President Joe Biden did what his three predecessors could or would not: halt a seemingly endless war. It took two decades, but American troops no longer are fighting in Afghanistan.

An important aspect of the US withdrawal was closing Washington’s bases, which once spread across the country. Uncle Sam left Bagram Air Base, America’s biggest facility in Afghanistan, on his way home.

However, some 750 American military facilities remain open in 80 nations and territories around the world. No other country in human history has had such a dominant presence. Great Britain was the leading colonial power, but its army was small. London had to supplement its own troops with foreign mercenaries, as in the American Revolution. In wars with great powers Britain provided its allies with financial subsidies rather than soldiers.

Previous empires, such as Rome, Persia, and China, were powerful in their own realms but had little reach beyond. The latter never reached outside Asia. Persia was twice halted by the Greek city states. As great as Rome became, its writ never went much beyond the Mediterranean, with Central Europe, North Africa, and the Mideast its boundaries. The New World remained beyond the knowledge let alone control of all three.

A new Quincy Institute study by American University’s David Vine and World Beyond War’s Patterson Deppen and Leah Bolger details the global US military presence. Washington has nearly three times as many bases as embassies and consulates. America also has three times as many installations as all other countries combined. The United Kingdom has 145. Russia two to three dozen. China five. Although the number of US facilities has fallen in half since the end of the Cold War, the number of nations hosting American bases has doubled. Washington is as willing to station forces in undemocratic as democratic countries.

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End Of The US Empire: Orwell’s 1984 ‘Newspeak’ & Dirt Cheap Gold, by Egon von Greyerz

The fate of an empire’s currency generally mirrors the general fate of the empire. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

The final phase of Empires normally ends with the same signals whether it was 2000 years ago in Rome or  today in the US.

One of the first signs is losing wars together with excessive debts, deficits, devaluations and decadence  The US being defeated and hurriedly fleeing from Afghanistan in a few days clearly signifies the end of the US empire.

The mighty US military has in the last few decades conducted disastrous wars against very small countries with no big armies or weaponry. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan come to mind but there are many more as we show below.

Brown’s University has just made a study of the US cost of wars since 9/11. They arrive at a staggering $8 trillion and the loss of 900,000 lives .

So in the last 20 years, the US has spent $8 trillion or 40% of annual GDP on conducting totally unsuccessful wars. The report also states that even after the exodus from Afghanistan the US is still involved in wars in over 80 countries.

Current extent of the US empire

US CURRENT WAR ACTIVITY

The cost of being involved in some kind of war activity in 85 countries will continue to cost the dying US empire dearly for decades to come.

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The American Empire In Retreat, by Ross Douthat

Empires often collapse from the outside and work in, which is one way to think of the American empire’s most recent failure in Afghanistan. From Ross Douthat of the New York Times via zerohedge.com:

America leaving Afghanistan memeA meme artist’s conception of of America’s retreat from Afghanistan. 

In one of the more arresting videos that circulated after the fall of Kabul, a journalist follows a collection of Taliban fighters into a hangar containing abandoned, disabled U.S. helicopters. Except that the fighters don’t look like our idea of the Taliban: In their gear and guns and helmets (presumably pilfered), they look exactly like the American soldiers their long insurgency defeated.

As someone swiftly pointed out on Twitter, the hangar scene had a strong end-of-the-Roman Empire vibe, with the Taliban fighters standing for the Visigoths or Vandals who adopted bits and pieces of Roman culture even as they overthrew the empire. For a moment, it offered a glimpse of what a world after the American imperium might look like: Not the disappearance of all our pomps and works, any more than Roman culture suddenly disappeared in 476 A.D., but a world of people confusedly playacting American-ness in the ruins of our major exports, the military base and the shopping mall.

But the glimpse provided in the video isn’t necessarily a foretaste of true imperial collapse. In other ways, our failure in Afghanistan more closely resembles Roman failures that took place far from Rome itself — the defeats that Roman generals suffered in the Mesopotamian deserts or the German forests, when the empire’s reach outstripped its grasp.

Or at least that’s how I suspect it will be seen in the cold light of hindsight, when some future Edward Gibbon sets out to tell the story of the American imperium in full.

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The Cost of an Empire, by Bill Bonner

The costs of America’s imperial wars are never borne by the criminals who promote them. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Let’s drink to the hard-working people

Let’s drink to the lowly of birth

Raise your glass to the good and the evil

Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Salt of the Earth, The Rolling Stones

YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Yes… we are hooting for the salt of the Earth. Saluting the faceless crowd, the lowly of birth… the masses… the hoi polloi… the proles.

In a few words: They are getting treated like Afghans.

Misled by the U.S. empire, corrupted by its fake money, and then left behind as the elite slip away.

Cost of Empire

Empires are always costly. And the costs are borne, mostly, by the working classes.

The Roman Republic was built by the blood and energy of its small farmers. Then, imperial conquests brought booty and slaves back to Rome. These were divvied up among the elite, who established large latifundia – farms run by slave labor.

The small farmers were driven out of business, forced to sell their farms to the big producers, and later, often forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

America never figured out how to make its empire pay.

From the very beginning, it was its own “little guys” who paid. They paid the taxes. They put on the uniforms. They may not have understood what “we” were fighting for, but they were ready to follow the sound of the cannon from San Juan Hill to Mỹ Lai.

The Vietnam War was one of the U.S. empire’s most spectacular fiascos. Your editor spent part of that war onboard a U.S. Navy cruiser… comfortably off the coast of California or at our base in San Diego.

Offered the glory of commanding a river boat on the Mekong Delta, he demurred. Even then, it was clear that the war was an expensive and dangerous boondoggle.

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Bring All the Troops Home: Stop Policing the Globe and Put an End to Endless Wars, by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

Mind your own business use to be folk wisdom. Now the mere suggestion of it to the US foreign policy and military establishment is apostasy. From John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad. This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves…. together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.”—George S. McGovern, former Senator and presidential candidate

It’s time to bring all our troops home.

Bring them home from Somalia, Iraq and Syria. Bring them home from Germany, South Korea and Japan. Bring them home from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman. Bring them home from Niger, Chad and Mali. Bring them home from Turkey, the Philippines, and northern Australia.

It’s not enough to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, America’s longest, bloodiest and most expensive war to date.

It’s time that we stop policing the globe, stop occupying other countries, and stop waging endless wars.

That’s not what’s going to happen, of course.

The U.S. military reportedly has more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 200,000 of them stationed overseas in nearly every country in the world.

Those numbers are likely significantly higher in keeping with the Pentagon’s policy of not fully disclosing where and how many troops are deployed for the sake of “operational security and denying the enemy any advantage.” As investigative journalist David Vine explains, “Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.”

Don’t fall for the propaganda, though.

America’s military forces aren’t being deployed abroad to protect our freedoms here at home. Rather, they’re being used to guard oil fields, build foreign infrastructure and protect the financial interests of the corporate elite. In fact, the United States military spends about $81 billion a year just to protect oil supplies around the world.

The reach of America’s military empire includes close to 800 bases in as many as 160 countries, operated at a cost of more than $156 billion annually. As Vine reports, “Even US military resorts and recreation areas in places like the Bavarian Alps and Seoul, South Korea, are bases of a kind. Worldwide, the military runs more than 170 golf courses.”

This is how a military empire occupies the globe.

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The Empire Does Not Forgive, by Chris Hedges

Empires forget their failures and repeat them, but they neither forget nor forgive those who expose their failures, lies, and depredations. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

The mandarins who oversee our collective suicide, despite repeated failure, doggedly insist the U.S. can reshape the world in its own image. 

(Original illustration by Mr. Fish)

The Carthaginian general Hannibal, who came close to defeating the Roman Republic in the Second Punic War, committed suicide in 181 BC in exile as Roman soldiers closed in on his residence in the Bithynian village of Libyssa, now modern-day Turkey.

It had been more than 30 years since he led his army across the Alps and annihilated Roman legions at the Battle of Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae, considered one of the most brilliant tactical victories in warfare which centuries later inspired the plans of the German Army Command in World War I when they invaded Belgium and France. Rome was only able to finally save itself from defeat by replicating Hannibal’s military tactics.

It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman consuls (with quasi-imperial power) since Hannibal’s invasion. It did not matter that Hannibal had been hunted for decades and forced to perpetually flee, always just beyond the reach of Roman authorities. He had humiliated Rome. He had punctured its myth of omnipotence. And he would pay. With his life.

Years after Hannibal was gone, the Romans were still not satisfied. They finished their work of apocalyptic vengeance in 146 BC by razing Carthage to the ground and selling its remaining population into slavery. Cato the Censor summed up the sentiments of empire: Carthage must be destroyed. Nothing about empire, from then until now, has changed.

Imperial powers do not forgive those who expose their weaknesses or make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of empire. Empires are fragile constructions. Their power is as much one of perception as of military strength. The virtues they claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate violence and state terror.

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Always Another War, by Philip Giraldi

With Afghanistan done, a lot of people are worried about where members of the military-industrial-intelligence complex are going to get their next meal. Not to worry, the complex will undoubtedly gin up another war. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Afghanistan is not exactly history quite yet as there still will be a lot final adjustments on the ground as well as the usual Vietnam-syndrome war of words that inevitably follows on yet another American-engineered foreign catastrophe. But the recriminations will go nowhere as there is certainly enough mud to stick on both major political parties that make Washington their home, and neither wants to be embarrassed to such an extent that anyone will actually demand change.

Regarding Afghanistan itself, I often recall hearing from a CIA friend of mine who served as the last Chief of Station in Kabul in the 1970s before the start of the Mujaheddin insurgency against the Marxist-Leninist government that was then in place eventually forced the US Embassy to close. He remarked how liberated the city was, full of smartly dressed attractive women and well-turned-out men going about their business. Though there was considerable repression in rural areas, education was highly prized by the people in the cities while many aspects of fundamental Islam were made illegal.

All of that came to a crashing halt when the United States and Saudi Arabia supported the Mujaheddin and eventually created al-Qaeda in a bid to damage the Soviets, who had intervened in the country and were backers of the Kabul regime headed by Babrak Karmal. Zbigniew Brzezinski was the “brain” behind the plan, in part to do payback for the Soviet role in Vietnam and in part because Zbig apparently had difficultly in separating his attachment for Poland, at the time part of the Soviet empire, from his role as national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America.

To be sure, wars that are unsuccessful, like Vietnam and Afghanistan, do generate a certain blowback. It was regularly observed that the 1990-1 US-led Desert Storm operation followed by a victory parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City helped the United States recover from Vietnam fatigue. That meant that it would not hesitate to again use armed force to enforce its often touted “rules based international order,” best translated as US global hegemony.

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The Elites’ Battle for the Future America, by Charles Hugh Smith

The Deep State is not a monolith, and there are indications that it is fracturing. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

No nation can produce less of lesser quality, and squander more on infinitely greedy and corrupt elites, all funded by issuing trillions of new units of currency, and imagine that this asymmetry will never have consequences.

As I have often noted, historian Michael Grant identified profound political disunity in the ruling class as a key cause of the dissolution of the Roman Empire. Grant described this dynamic in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a book I have been recommending since 2009.

I’ve been writing about the fractures in America’s ruling elites for many years, as well as the erosion of the foundations of society that lead to systemic collapse, for example, Collapse, Part 2: The Nine Dynamics of Decay (June 2015), Going to War with the Political Elite You Have (May 14, 2007) and The Conflict within the Deep State Just Broke into Open Warfare (March 10, 2017)

America’s elites are fracturing along multiple tectonic fissures: while the conventional media focuses on the ginned-up bread and circuses of Red and Blue political games (i.e., The Purple Empire), the real conflicts are within the camps running the Red and Blue games, the Imperial Project of global hegemony (a.k.a. The Deep State), the New Nobility of Big Tech attempting to overthrow the Old Nobility, the Nationalists versus the Globalists and the Financial Gamesters versus The New Foundation.

These are my informal acronyms, of course, but the conflicts are real and intensifying as extreme policies reach new extremes and the risks of breakdown increase.

The most dangerous elites are the ones clinging to the perverse but compelling faith that the Federal Reserve and Treasury can conjure endless trillions of U.S. dollars without any consequence other than continued global hegemony, the faith that the Federal Reserve has god-like powers to tweak the dials so that 1) the U.S. dollar remains the pre-eminent reserve currency 2) but not so strong that it sinks the emerging market economies and 3) magical enough that there are no limits on how many can be absorbed by global stock, bond, debt, risk and commodity markets and 4) remains the primary method of limiting the global financial leverage of geopolitical rivals. Uh, sure. No problem, the Fed is all-powerful, right?

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Afghanistan: A Tragically Stupid War Comes to a Tragic End, by Ron Paul

Ron Paul is too polite to say, “I told you so,” but he did warn Washington about what it was getting into. From Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Sunday’s news reports that the Biden Administration mistakenly killed nine members of one Afghan family, including six children, in “retaliation” for last week’s suicide attack which killed 13 US servicemembers, is a sad and sick epitaph on the 20 year Afghanistan war.

Promising to “get tough” on ISIS, which suddenly re-emerged to take responsibility for the suicide attack, the most expensive military and intelligence apparatus on earth appears to have gotten it wrong. Again.

Interventionists love to pretend they care about girls and women in Afghanistan, but it is in reality a desperate attempt to continue the 20-year US occupation. If we leave, they say, girls and women will be discriminated against by the Taliban.

It’s hard to imagine a discrimination worse than being incinerated by a drone strike, but these “collateral damage” attacks over the past 20 years have killed scores of civilians. Just like on Sunday.

That’s the worst part of this whole terrible war: day-after-day for twenty years civilians were killed because of the “noble” effort to re-make Afghanistan in the image of the United States. But the media and the warmongers who call the shots in government – and the “private” military-industrial sector – could not have cared less. Who recalls a single report on how many civilians were just “collateral damage” in the futile US war?

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Looking For Monsters to Slay, by Andrew Napolitano

The American empire is a moral and Constitutional abomination. From Andrew Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

The debacle of the nearly 20-year American occupation of Afghanistan continues to unfold. This disaster began when President George W. Bush — stung deeply by the intelligence that he failed to heed, thus enabling the attacks of 9/11 to take place unimpeded — convinced the American people and Congress and most of our allies that the bad guys who ran Afghanistan in the early part of this century needed to be taught a lesson, whether they personally enabled or facilitated the 9/11 attacks or not.

This moral monstrosity was executed in the name of retaliation, deterrence and liberation, but in reality, it was American hubris.

Here is the backstory.

Bush — knowing days after the 9/11 attacks that they had been perpetrated and paid for by the Saudis — believed that by blaming the attacks on Afghanistan, destroying much of that country and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, he would somehow teach the world that no one would “mess with us” without severe consequences.

His knee-jerk reaction, and exploitation of raw American fear in the weeks following 9/11, set in motion a series of events that culminated last week in the triumph in Afghanistan of the very mindset Bush and his military, and his 2 trillion borrowed American dollars, tried to destroy.

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