Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 12 April 27 - May 3, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
American power girds the globe with a ring of steel
America goes to war, the spoils of victory invariably include more US military
vanquished Saddam Hussein, the Pentagon is planning to establish four US bases
in Iraq, according to reports in Washington yesterday.
Iraqi deployment plans fall into the century-old pattern of US foreign bases
being built on the back of military victory. They are also the latest episode in
an extraordinary surge in America's projection of military muscle since
past two years have seen a rapid expansion of American deployments across
thousands of miles stretching from the Balkans to the Chinese border and taking
in the Caucasus, central Asia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, a result of the 1999 Nato campaign, to the Bishkek
airbase in Kyrgyzstan, appro priated for the Afghanistan war, the Americans are
establishing an armed presence in places they have never been before.
new bases in nine countries ringing Afghanistan were rapidly established as
Russia's underbelly in central Asia became an American theatre for the first
every meaningful sense, the reach and spread of the US bases is growing very
strongly, alarmingly from the point of view of the rest of the world," said
Marcus Corbin, a security analyst at the Centre for Defence Information
thinktank in Washington
plans are in the pipeline to move US assets out of Germany, where they have been
since 1945, into the new Nato countries of eastern Europe, notably Poland as
well as Romania and Bulgaria on the Black sea, prized for their proximity to
Turkey and the Middle East.
this month, the top US air force officer in Europe, General Gregory Martin, was
in Bulgaria and Romania, sizing up real estate options for the American move
into the Balkans.
of those places now represent opportunities for us to create relationships that
some day will allow us the access we need," Gen Martin told the Stars and
Stripes US military newspaper.
Poznan in western Poland, millions of dollars are being spent on repairing
runways, improving infrastructure and building roads at the Krzesiny air base,
in the expectation that Uncle Sam is moving in there, too.
shift is to small, mobile forces at bases in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, with
the number of bases in Germany being reduced substantially," said Phil
Mitchell, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
biggest shock of the Iraq war for the Pentagon, said Mr Corbin, was not being
able to use Turkey as a launchpad.
big thing to come out of Iraq is that the US will redouble its efforts to
diversify its assets and potential."
from exploiting Turkey, the US military used the Romanian air base near
Constanta on the Black sea to ferry servicemen and women and equipment into
northern Iraq, while 400 US troops commandeered the Burgas airport down the
Black sea coast in Bulgaria for refuelling operations.
new bases in central Asia, the Middle East, and the Balkans mean that the US
military now girds the globe as no power has done before, from the frozen wastes
of Greenland to the deserts of southern Afghanistan.
more can also mean less. At the close of the cold war, America was sustaining
more than 1 million of its citizens abroad in the service of the military,
including some 400,000 dependents.
the strategic revolution being fashioned by the US defence secretary, Donald
Rumsfeld, and his hawks at the Pentagon, the number of US military personnel
deployed overseas is about 60% of 10 years ago, at about 1,000 military bases.
airlift, technological advances, and the shift in military doctrine from
deterrence to pre-emption and rapid reaction entail a leaner and meaner fighting
Mr Rumsfeld, said Mr Corbin, "you have four or five people who have
hijacked the US government and whose ambition cannot be understated. Their plan
is for the US to control events in many important regions of the world."
message of the Rumsfeld doctrine on bases is as much political as military. The
policy is to cultivate "relationships" with the host countries, obtain
secret basing agree ments, reconnoitre assets, and then use them, not
necessarily immediately and not so much as permanent US bases, but as and when
the Americans see fit, in their determination to be able to go anywhere any time
function may be more political than actually military, they send a message to
everyone," the administration hawk and deputy defence secretary, Paul
Wolfowitz, told the New York Times last year.
is a policy that involves risks, with the bases becoming a target for
terrorists. The Pentagon is spending billions of dollars on 45,000 guards and
security personnel to police US deployments abroad. And there is perhaps another
a risk of not knowing your limits, of over-extending yourself," cautions
Mark Vicenzino, a Washington strategic policy analyst. "That's the lesson
of history, the lesson of empire."
April 21, 2003