Bases Upon Bases
By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | Counterpunch, August 2 / 3, 2008
What do the following places have in common — Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and South Korea?
They all have US army bases. There are dozens of them. To which add enjoyment or otherwise of the presence of US Navy headquarters and warships by the Bahamas, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Greece, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, plus another score of ports worldwide where USN ships are welcomed by permanently-based staffs who are guests of host governments. These places are not bases. They are not counted in the officially admitted 780 (or so) colonial-style military encampments that Washington has imposed on inferior nations. The US military presence round the world is enormous. It is greater than any other country or empire has ever had. The most expansionist days of Rome and the British Empire, Hitler’s assault on Europe, and Stalin’s domination of the countries on Russia’s borders pale in comparison with the global embrace of what has become a sinister force for destabilisation.
Although it is unlikely that any more South American countries will allow the US to establish military bases (Ecuador will cancel its airbase agreement next year, being so fed up with the arrogance of the northern imperialists), the newly-created US Fourth Fleet is now patrolling off the shores of Venezuela, menacing its democratically elected leader, Hugo Chavez, who has incurred the wrath of US business interests by running his country more efficiently without their presence.
Mr Chavez doesn’t like the idea of giving his country’s natural resources to US companies and he won’t be bribed by them. This is absolutely unforgivable in the eyes of the Cheney-supported Friedmaniac freaks who nearly ruined Russia – and would have done so, had it not been for President Putin taking charge and restoring his country to economic sanity. Little wonder President Chavez has been attacked so viciously by the US and British media, parroting the Right Wing mantra that privatisation might reduce millions to poverty, but that it’s really a good thing in the long run. (Providing you aren’t one of those who have died from starvation meantime, of course.)
Venezuela has lots of oil, which may have added to Washington’s priority in creating a 12 ship fleet to “build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.” But it isn’t clear what confidence and trust can be created by a nuclear aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ships whose ostensible mission involves countering drug smuggling and, inevitably, taking part in the absurd “War on Terror.”
President Chavez said words to the effect that he wondered what US reaction be if a South American nation sent a fleet to patrol the coast of Virginia, and of course he is perfectly right in fearing the baleful American presence. America sends hundreds of ships, many nuclear-armed and equipped with fearsome missile, to roam the coasts of foreign countries, but imagine the screams of shock, horror and astonished indignation if Russia or China sent a battle group to stroll nautically up and down the coast from Seattle to San Francisco.
As to Venezuela – who knows what special forces knuckle-draggers and CIA psychotics are deployed to assist the US-supported anti-Chavez underground that already exists. (The Fourth Fleet is commanded by Admiral Joseph D Kernan, a former special forces commander ; the signal could not be clearer.) In May a US Navy Viking electronic warfare aircraft “accidentally” flew into Venezuelan airspace, which doesn’t provide much confidence in a navy operating a super-sophisticated plane, with every up-to-date navigation device, that can lose its way so easily. What a load of nonsense. So it can be deduced that the plane was deliberately trailing its coat to assess the effectiveness of Venezuela’s defence radar system – just as is done every day in the Persian Gulf by US aircraft and ships closing up to Iran’s coastline to plot radar and other defence facilities in order to be able to bomb them if Bush decides to encourage Israel to attack Iran.
There is also a US navy, Marine and air force base in Diego Garcia, a British territory, in which there is a CIA prison to which prisoners have been delivered by the wonderful process of “rendition.” (The British government denied knowledge of “rendition” through British territory but had to acknowledge that it lied, following production of evidence that it had lied. Can we trust anyone? Anyone at all?)
Continued . . .