US Marines aboard the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa command ship USS Mount Whitney hone their small arms skills as she sails to the Indian Ocean. Photo: US Navy. (2003)

Newsweek has an oddly revealing headline on a recent article:

The United States is planning a new strategic command to take the global War on Terror to the Horn of Africa.
Note that the US is taking the War on Terror with it. As one of the soldiers quoted says: “It’s the Peace Corps with a weapon.” The US appears to be making a serious claim it can dispense aid from the barrel of a gun.

The policy has been a resounding failure so far:

Perhaps the biggest source of concern is the recent U.S. track record in the Horn of Africa, where Washington has been pursuing an increasingly militarized policy for more than a year with disastrous results . . . (The US has) failed spectacularly.

US citizens and taxpayers have not recognized or acknowledged the US has become an imperial power. It is not a position that sits well with the founding principles of the country. And the goal of Full Spectrum Dominance, described in an earlier post, is the essence of imperialism.

And then there is this from the Christian Century:

According to Chalmers Johnson in his book Nemesis, officially the U.S. has 737 military bases located in 132 of the 190 countries belonging to the United Nations. But the official count fails to mention bases in Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries. The DOD also doesn’t count the extensive military facilities maintained by the U.S. in Britain that nominally belong to the Royal Air Force. And then there are host countries, like Jordan, that—for the sake of relations with their own people—want to be able to deny that they have an American military presence. Johnson concludes that the total number of overseas bases is over 1,000 and that even the Pentagon doesn’t know how many there are for certain.

Overseas bases range from large, permanent facilities such as the ones in Germany, complete with officers’ clubs, bowling alleys and activity centers, to the “lily pad” bases constructed in areas of instability, which contain prepositioned weapons and munitions and have little or no American presence.
. . .
The presence of U.S. military bases breeds resentment in many of the host countries. Sometimes host countries themselves are expected to pay part of the cost of the bases. The conditions negotiated for the establishment of the bases are often not in the best interests of the host countries. The long-term presence of war matériel can have a devastating impact on the local environment. And American personnel are often insensitive toward local culture and customs, providing yet another offense to host countries.

. . . the U.S. is “an empire . . . that dare not speak its name. It is an empire in denial.” We won’t be able to overcome this state of denial until we realize what is happening in our name and with our tax dollars.

No country should welcome a US base on its soil at the present time.

I certainly hope the change in US government that should be coming in 2008 will begin to look at this realistically and begin to move away from it. For one thing, it is a path to economic disaster, for the US, and for everyone the US touches. I sense political changes coming in the US, but I don’t yet have a good sense of the direction. If the US can hang on to its democracy, changes in a democracy happen slowly. Large numbers of people rarely change direction all together at once.

Many people have noted that terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. An enemy is someone who uses this tactic against you. So far, Bush administration actions have increased the use of the terror tactic all around the world, empowering terrorists, and putting the people of many countries at greater risk of violence.