As it’s been noted by a former professor of the University of California, Chalmers Johnson, in his book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, published at the turn of the twenty first century:
As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize — or do not want to recognize — that 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 — an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can’t begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.
Last June, Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has once again voiced his protest against the crimes committed by US servicemen in Okinawa, as the latest resulted in two more local citizens being seriously injured.
This development was followed by a total of 65,000 Japanese citizens gathering on the island to participate in an anti-American protest – one of the largest ones observed in Japan over the last two decades, as noted by Reuters. This protest marked a new low in US-Japanese relations.
In this situation, the officers commanding US armed forces deployed in Japan were forced to announced that they would hand over some 4,000 hectares of land to Okinawa’s government last month. For years this land has been occupied by the US military.
Entire world resists the expansion of US military
However, Japan’s population is not the only one opposing continuous US military presence abroad, with the threat of the imminent withdrawal looming over a large number of US military installations in different parts of the world.
Last January, thousands of protesters demanded the closure of a US military facility in the in the northern Italian town of Vicenza. The protest was organized by an opposition party known as the “5-star Movement” (D5Z) which has even presented the Chamber of Deputies of the national parliament with a bill demanding a review of Italy’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO).
Thousands of pubic speeches against American bases are being delivered to the inhabitants of Germany on a yearly basis by representatives of various political movements. These activities have become particularly commonplace in the town of Ramstein-Miesenbach, where a large US military installation is situated.
Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has publicly stated recently that Iraqi society opposes foreign military bases being deployed across the country, including those that belong to the US.
Last July, the Turkish Anadolu Agency published a detailed report on the numerous American military bases being created in Syria, emphasizing that the Pentagon deploys its installations and military personnel in residential areas in the immediate vicinity of large local enterprises, which would transform Syria’s population into “human shields” should ISIS launch an attack against one of these positions in retaliation.
American population vs. US military bases
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that protests of various countries across the globe are now being supported by the population of the United States itself, where one can find a rapidly growing movement demanding the closure of US military bases overseas.
Thus, American political forces have formed a coalition against US military bases abroad, which, they believe, are used as an instrument of ensuring global domination and have little to nothing to do with ensuring the security of the United States. The above mentioned coalition was founded by a total of 11 public organizations. Among the founders of this new political force one can find the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), which, at various points in time, was joined by a total of 52 large public organizations and movements, such as the US Peace Council, Veterans for Peace along with a number of independent activists.
Among the stated goals of the coalition is the task of “raising public awareness and organizing non-violent mass resistance against US foreign military bases.”
Since those supporting the coalition are convinced that US military installations abroad constitute an intrusion into the affairs of sovereign states including the financial, political and military interests of their elected representatives, they state that the closure of US foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
So, how many Americans exactly are serving their country overseas?
It’s been noted time and time again that it is difficult to tell the exact number of bases and military outposts deployed by the United States. The annual Department of Defense (DoD) Base Structure Report says the DoD manages a massive “global real estate portfolio that consists of nearly 562,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures), located on over 4,800 sites worldwide and covering over 24.9 million acres.” The entire worth of this portfolio is believed to reach a whooping 585 billion dollars.
According to the data released by the DoD and its Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) there are well over 40,000 US troops, and 179 US bases in Germany, over 50,000 troops in Japan deployed across a total of 109 bases, and tens of thousands of troops, with hundreds of bases, all over Europe. Over 28,000 US troops are present in 85 bases in South Korea, and have been there since 1957. The number of bases is always changing as Washington seeks to continuously expand this network.
It’s curious that even US politicians and officials recognize that the US has no legitimate grounds for creating such installation in a number of countries, including Syria. This, in particular, has been been noted last July by the commander of United States Special Operations Command, General Raymond Thomas.
Every month thousands of civilians are being routinely murdered in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and a number of other countries by US air power, operating from overseas military bases of the United States, which has been repeatedly reported by a number of various media sources, including New Eastern Outlook.
So, what must happen for Washington to start closing its military bases abroad, which are not just provoking outrage among populations abroad hosting them, but also serve as a source of death and destruction targeting thousands of civilians across the globe?
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”