The Bases of Empire

A global empire like the United States needs overseas bases to accommodate its troops, now in 135 countries. Although the latest “Base Structure Report” of the Department of Defense admits to having 96 military installations in U.S. overseas territories and 702 military installations in foreign countries, it has been documented that this number is far too low. The official list of countries that we have bases in is as follows: Antigua Australia Austria Bahamas Bahrain Belgium Canada Columbia Cuba Denmark Egypt France Germany Greece Honduras Iceland Indonesia Italy Kenya Japan Luxembourg Netherlands New Zealand Norway Oman Peru Portugal Singapore Spain South Korea Turkey United Arab Emirates United Kingdom Venezuela To this must be added the bases that we have in Diego Garcia, Greenland, Hong Kong, Kwajalein Atoll, and St. Helena. This makes a total of 39 foreign locations that the United States officially has bases in, not counting bases in U.S. overseas territories like Guam, Johnston Atoll, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. But there are problems with this official list. First of all, it has some notable omissions. The Air Force Technical Applications Center in Thailand is not listed. And neither is Eskan Village and Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The United States has had a troop presence in the former Soviet Republics of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since October of 2001, yet they are not listed either. The huge Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is not even listed, although President Bush has spoken there. According to the Department of Defense publication, “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country,” the United States has 2,997 active duty military personnel in Qatar. Yet, no base in listed in the Base Structure Report. Incredibly, no bases are even listed in Afghanistan, Kuwait, or Iraq. With critical omissions like these, God only knows how many more foreign bases we have that are not listed. The issue is not just how many countries the United States has bases in. The issue is U.S. troops on foreign soil. Having an official base just makes our foreign presence worse. It would be better for U.S. troops to patrol our border with Mexico than to patrol the borders of countries half way around the world that most Americans could not locate on a map.