A recent article by Kwadwo Nketsia in the Accra Mail raises the question of a US base in Ghana once again. I have not read that proposed in any US media recently. However, Bush/Cheney are unlikely to make anything public until they are forced to do so. The speculation I have read is that that a military base and Africa Command HQ may be located in Sao Tome and Principe, which would provide fast and easy access to the entire Gulf of Guinea, or possibly in Morroco. Still, Ghana would have much to offer the US Military, and I think it would be a mistake for Ghanaians to think a US Military base would have much that is positive to offer Ghana.

Ghana has much to be proud of as a sovereign nation. As Nketsia correctly records:

Ghana is said to be among six countries being considered for the location of the military base. We are being considered due to our “true young democracy”, freedom of speech, good governance (which has earned us monetary rewards for MCA projects), and an excellent human rights record, (The Global Peace Index study has ranked Ghana the 40th most peaceful country in the world ) and other positive factors for better development.

All these positives are true. Nketsia’s main argument for the base appears to be economic, paychecks would put money into the local economy, and the base would draw visitors from around the world. He thinks that a base will have a positive effect on health. He should look at the situation in the US, or ask the Philippines about the toxic waste and health care issues Clark AFB left behind.

The U.S. military’s choice to ignore such toxic time bombs in the Philippines has already wreaked havoc on the Philippine people. Hazardous substances in the groundwater continue to migrate into heavily populated towns east of Clark . . . Not merely a sore spot in the relationship between the Philippines and the United States, this toxic disaster threatens people’s basic human right to a clean and healthy environment.

Throughout the United States and around the world people who live in the general vicinity of military bases are in terrible danger:

The contaminants emitted from military bases include pesticides, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and uranium. The health effects for the surrounding communities are devastating: miscarriages, low birth weights, birth defects, kidney disease, and cancer.

The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. . . the burden of health impacts and environmental destruction falls disproportionately on poorer communities, people of color and indigenous communities. Women face particularly severe problems because of their sensitive reproductive tissues and children because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

This is what Ghana has to look forward to if there is a US Military base situated in Ghana.

Under Bush/Cheney the current military strategy is the long war for oil. The object of the long war is to co-opt and contain oil supplies wherever they might be found around the globe. The recent discovery of oil in Ghana’s territorial waters may have increased US interest in Ghana as a potential US base.

Nketsia also thinks the days of huge military bases are behind us. At present the US African bases are the lily pads he describes, and there is already some base activity in Ghana. But it you look at what the US is still building in Iraq, the new bases planned are even larger than ever. The US version of the colony is the military base. Countries that are home to these bases become occupied territories of the United States. It is a fast way to lose sovereignty.