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Global Overlords July 20, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Politics, rant.
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Here are some extracts from a scary article by Nick Turse:

For many years, the U.S. military has been gobbling up large swaths of the planet and huge amounts of just about everything on (or in) it.

[…]

In 2003, Forbes magazine revealed that media mogul Ted Turner was America’s top land baron — with a total of 1.8 million acres across the U.S. The nation’s ten largest landowners, Forbes reported, “own 10.6 million acres, or one out of every 217 acres in the country.” Impressive as this total was, the Pentagon puts Turner and the entire pack of mega-landlords to shame with over 29 million acres in U.S. landholdings. Abroad, the Pentagon’s “footprint” is also that of a giant. For example, the Department of Defense controls 20% of the Japanese island of Okinawa and, according to Stars and Stripes, “owns about 25 percent of Guam.” Mere land ownership, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

In his 2004 book, The Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson opened the world’s eyes to the size of the Pentagon’s global footprint, noting that the Department of Defense (DoD) was deploying nearly 255,000 military personnel at 725 bases in 38 countries. Since then, the total number of overseas bases has increased to at least 766 and, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, may actually be as high as 850. Still, even these numbers don’t begin to capture the global sprawl of the organization that unabashedly refers to itself as “one of the world’s largest ‘landlords.'”

The DoD’s “real property portfolio,” according to 2006 figures, consists of a total of 3,731 sites. Over 20% of these sites are located on more than 711,000 acres outside of the U.S. and its territories. Yet even these numbers turn out to be a drastic undercount. For example, while a 2005 Pentagon report listed U.S. military sites from Antigua and Hong Kong to Kenya and Peru, some countries with significant numbers of U.S. bases go entirely unmentioned — Afghanistan and Iraq, for example.

In Iraq, alone, in mid-2005, U.S. forces were deployed at some 106 bases, from the massive Camp Victory, headquarters of the U.S. high command, to small 500-troop outposts in the country’s hinterlands. None of them made the Pentagon’s list. Nor was there any mention of bases in Jordan on that list –or in the 2001-2005 reports either. Yet that nation, as military analyst William Arkin has pointed out, allowed the garrisoning of 5,000 U.S. troops at various bases around the country during the build-up to the war in Iraq. In addition, some 76 nations have given the U.S. military access to airports and airfields — in addition to who knows where else that the Pentagon forgot to acknowledge or considers inappropriate for inclusion in its list.

[…]

[…] the Pentagon’s […] land holdings [extend over] 120,191 square kilometers which [is] almost exactly the size of North Korea (120,538 square kilometers). These holdings are larger than any of the following nations: Liberia, Bulgaria, Guatemala, South Korea, Hungary, Portugal, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, Denmark, Georgia, or Austria. The 7,518 square kilometers of 20 micro-states — the Vatican, Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Maldives, Malta, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Seychelles, Andorra, Bahrain, Saint Lucia, Singapore, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and Tonga — combined pales in comparison to the 9,307 square kilometers of just one military base, White Sands Missile Range.

[…]

The Pentagon is now considering — and planning for — future “sea-basing.” No longer just a ship, a fleet, or “prepositioned material” stationed on the world’s oceans, sea-bases will be “a hybrid system-of-systems consisting of concepts of operations, ships, forces, offensive and defensive weapons, aircraft, communications and logistics.” The notion of such bases is increasingly popular within the military due to the fact that they “will help to assure access to areas where U.S. military forces may be denied access to support [land] facilities.” After all, as a report by the Defense Science Board pointed out, “[S]eabases are sovereign [and] not subject to alliance vagaries.” Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

With a real-estate portfolio that includes the earth and the sea, the sky would, quite literally, be the limit for the DoD. According to Noah Shachtman, editor of Wired’s “Danger Room” blog, the “U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan” of 2004 outlined what “analysts call the most detailed picture since the end of the Cold War of the Pentagon’s efforts to turn outer space into a battlefield…. the report makes U.S. dominance of the heavens a top Pentagon priority in the new century.” As the U.S. military’s outer-space policy statement puts it, “Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.”

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