Interventionism 101 – New US Military Bases: Side Effects or Causes of War?

Since 1990, each large-scale U.S. intervention has
left behind a string of new U.S. military bases in
a region where the U.S. had never before had a
foothold. The new U.S. military bases were not merely
built to aid the interventions, but the interventions
also conveniently afforded an opportunity to station
the bases.


Since 1990, each large-scale U.S. intervention has
left behind a string of new U.S. military bases in
a region where the U.S. had never before had a

The new U.S. military bases were not merely built to
aid the interventions, but the interventions also
conveniently afforded an opportunity to station
the bases.

Indeed, the establishment of new bases may in the
long run be more critical to U.S. war planners
than the wars themselves, as well as to enemies of
the U.S.

This is not to say that all U.S. wars of the past
decade have been the result of some coordinated
conspiracy to make Americans the overlords of the
belt between Bosnia and Pakistan.

It’s not a conspiracy; it’s just business as usual.

The massacre of September 11 mainly had their roots in the U.S.
decision to leave behind bases in Saudi Arabia and
other Gulf states. The permanent stationing of new
U.S. forces in and around the Balkans and
Afghanistan could easily generate a similar
terrorist “blowback” years from now.

Gulf War

Contrary to original U.S. promises to its Arab
allies, the 1991 Gulf War left behind large
military bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and
basing rights in the other Gulf states of Bahrain,
Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

The war completed the American
inheritance of the oil region from which the
British had withdrawn in the early 1970s. Yet the
U.S. itself only imports about 5 percent of its
oil from the Gulf; the rest is exported mainly to
Europe and Japan.

French President Jacques Chirac
correctly viewed the U.S. role in the Persian Gulf
as securing control over oil sources for the
European and East Asian economic powers.

The U.S. decided to permanently station bases around the
Gulf after 1991 not only to counter Saddam
Hussein, and to support the continued bombing
against Iraq, but to quell potential internal
dissent in the oil-rich monarchies.

Somalia War

In the 1970s-80s, the
U.S. had backed Somali dictator Siad Barre in his
wars against Soviet-backed Ethiopia. In return,
Barre had granted the U.S. Navy the rights to use
Somali naval ports, which were strategically
situated at the southern end of the Red Sea,
linking the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean.

After Barre was overthrown, the U.S. used the ensuing
chaos and famine as its excuse to move back in,
but made the mistake of siding with one group of
warlords against the Mogadishu warlord Mohamed

The U.S. withdrew, and eventually gained naval basing
rights in the port of Aden, just across the Red
Sea in Yemen, where Bin Laden launched his attack
on the USS Cole in 2000.

Balkan Wars

The U.S. military interventions in former
Yugoslavia resulted in new U.S. military bases in
five countries: Hungary, Albania, Bosnia,
Macedonia, and the sprawling Camp Bondsteel
complex in southeastern Kosovo.

As in the Gulf and Afghan conflicts, European Union
allies may be joining the U.S. wars not simply out
of solidarity, but out of fear of being completely
excluded from carving out the postwar order in the
region. The Kosovo intervention, in particular,
was followed by stepped-up European efforts to
form an independent military force outside of the
U.S.-commanded NATO.

The U.S. stationing of huge
bases along the eastern edge of the E.U., which
can be used to project forces into the Middle
East, was carried out partly in anticipation of
European militaries one day going their own way.

Afghan War

The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was
ostensibly a reaction to the September 11 attacks,
and to some extent was aimed at toppling the
Taliban. But Afghanistan has historically been in
an extremely strategic location straddling South
Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

The country also conveniently lies along a proposed
Unocal oil pipeline route from the Caspian Sea oil
fields to the Indian Ocean. The U.S. had already
been situating forces in the neighboring ex-Soviet
republic of Uzbekistan before September 11.

During the war, it has used its new bases and basing
rights in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan,
Kyrgyzstan, and to a lesser extent Tajikistan. It
is using the continued instability in Afghanistan
(like in Somalia, largely a result of setting
warlords against warlords) as an excuse to station
a permanent military presence throughout the
region, and it even plans to institute the dollar
as the new Afghan currency.

The new string of U.S.
military bases are becoming permanent outposts
guarding a new Caspian Sea oil infrastructure.

Why War?

President George Bush launched the February 1991
ground war against Iraq, even though Saddam was
already withdrawing from Kuwait under Soviet
disengagement plan.

He also sent forces into Somalia in 1992,
even though the famine he used as a justification
had already lessened.

President Clinton launched a
war on Serbia in 1999 to force a withdraw from
Kosovo, even though Yugoslavia had already met
many of his withdrawal terms at the Rambouillet

President George W. Bush attacked
Afghanistan in 2001 without having put much
diplomatic pressure on the Taliban to surrender
Bin Laden, or letting anti-Taliban forces (such as
Pashtun commander Abdul Haq) win over Taliban
forces on their own.

Washington went to war not as
a last resort, but because it saw war as a
convenient opportunity to further larger goals.

Wars in the Making

Now that the
American sphere of influence is taking hold in the
“middle ground” between Europe and East Asia, the
attention may be turned on both Iraq and its
former enemy Iran as the only remaining regional
powers to stand in the way.

A U.S. war against either Iraq or Iran will destroy
any bridges recently built to Islamic states,
especially as Bush also abandons even the pretense
of even-handedness between Israelis and

U.S. war planners are also openly targeting
Somalia and Yemen, and are patrolling their shores
with Navy ships, though they may decide to
intervene indirectly to avoid the disasters of
Mogadishu in 1993 and Aden in 2000.

The priority would be to
regain naval access to strategic Somali and Yemeni

The most direct U.S. intervention since the Afghan
invasion has been in the southern Philippines,
against the Moro (Muslim) guerrilla militia Abu
Sayyaf. U.S. special forces “trainers” are
carrying out joint “exercises” with Philippine
troops in the active combat zone.

Once in place, the counterinsurgency campaign
could…help achieve the other major U.S. goal in the
Philippines: to fully reestablish U.S. military
basing rights.

Meanwhile, other regions of the world are also
being targeted in the U.S. “war on terror,”
notably South America.

U.S. “war on terror” propaganda is casting Colombian
rebels as the allies of neighboring oil-rich
Venezuela. Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez could serve
as an ideal new enemy if Bin Laden is eliminated.

Author: Zoltan Grossman

News Service: CounterPunch


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