Dear President Obama,
I have a suggestion: why don’t you close down 50 US Military bases on foreign soil over the next five years – assuming you’re re-elected in 2012. Said reduction of 50 bases would:
A) Save billions of dollars a year to be reinvested in the sadly under-funded United States of America.
B) Send a signal to the world that we recognize our imperial arrogance and, consequently, our intention to scale back our dreams of world domination.
C) Leave us with 950 bases intact – still an obscene number, but slightly less obscene than our current 1,000 bases located in some 150 other nations.
Let’s begin our closing down of bases with Diego Garcia, that racist stain upon our national history and honor. Diego Garcia joining ranks with such dictatorial, illegal, immoral deportations as the Cherokee “trail of tears” and the Japanese relocations at Manzanar, et al. (For those interested, the island of Diego Garcia is the subject of David Vine’s important, 2009 publication “Island of Shame.”)
Chalmers Johnson, and now David Vine, have clearly exposed the shocking fact that the USA funds and operates 1,000 military bases around the globe. There is but one purpose for this enormous expenditure of taxpayer dollars – world domination. For all of our unctuous, self-congratulatory rhetoric of making the world safer, and bringing democracy here and there, the presence of these military bases belies our propaganda and exposes us for what we are – an empire. Like Rome, we have bases all over the planet and we have used military force far too many times in the aftermath of World War II. Our military budget is greater than all the nations of the world combined. This is not the way peace and equity are achieved or manifested. From our bizarre 19th century notion of our “manifest destiny” which enabled us to murder and ghettoize our native populations to our imperial sense of destiny today, we are often a prideful and greedy nation.
Iraq is a case in point. We attacked and invaded a country that had not attacked us. We ignored Hans Blix and his international team who inspected and announced Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. We then lied to the world and to our own citizens about weapons of mass destruction And while we did remove Saddam, we have clearly not brought democracy to Iraq and though we are pulling out some troops, we will, nevertheless, leave tens of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq. Furthermore, we have created up to 600 new US military bases in Iraq, and we have incited greater hatred of America in the process. We have been responsible for the displacement of 4 million Iraqis from their homes, and have killed somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. And, shamefully, we are not able to admit we were wrong and to apologize to Iraq and the world. The legacy of Iraq will be, in part, more and new military bases in other people’s countries – yet another example of empire expansion.
So, President Obama, you have a golden opportunity to turn all this around. Secretary Gates recently announced the intention to close one base, well, let’s build on that and close 49 more in the coming 60 months. Not only we would save billions of dollars, would we allow ourselves the possibility of using these savings to create jobs for the returning soldiers – as well as the millions of unemployed here at home.
You, Sir, could follow FDR’s lead and enact a genuine rebuilding of America modeled after the New Deal: jobs, new bridges, train routes, schools, hospitals, rebuilding of America’s small farm agriculture, rebuild New Orleans, find substantial new energy and conservation projects – hence more new jobs – build new museums and libraries all across the country – hence, more new jobs.
Let us restore our economy not with program cuts, but with revenue-generating, newly created projects. Let us generate revenue from taxes fairly shared but drawn also from people who can pay their taxes because they have jobs and can now spend.
It all comes back to choices and priorities. Do you, Mr. President, want to serve out your allotted four (or eight years) in service of a bloated military complex and budget – or do you wish to redirect our nation’s focus from global domination to a new world of peace, equitable prosperity, environmental sanity, sustainability, and conservation. It is clear to many, as I am sure it is clear to you, we can’t have both. If you make the courageous and wise choice, you will go down in history as, perhaps, our greatest president.