David Vine is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. At TomDispatch, he writes, The Lily-Pad Strategy: How the Pentagon Is Quietly Transforming Its Overseas Base Empire and Creating a Dangerous New Way of War:
Since the “Black Hawk Down” deaths in Somalia almost 20 years ago, we’ve heard little, if anything, about American military casualties in Africa (other than a strange report last week about three special operations commandos killed, along with three women identified by U.S. military sources as “Moroccan prostitutes,” in a mysterious car accident in Mali). The growing number of patients arriving at Ramstein from Africa pulls back a curtain on a significant transformation in twenty-first-century U.S. military strategy.
These casualties are likely to be the vanguard of growing numbers of wounded troops coming from places far removed from Afghanistan or Iraq. They reflect the increased use of relatively small bases like Camp Lemonnier, which military planners see as a model for future U.S. bases “scattered,” as one academic explains, “across regions in which the United States has previously not maintained a military presence.”David Vine
Disappearing are the days when Ramstein was the signature U.S. base, an American-town-sized behemoth filled with thousands or tens of thousands of Americans, PXs, Pizza Huts, and other amenities of home. But don’t for a second think that the Pentagon is packing up, downsizing its global mission, and heading home. In fact, based on developments in recent years, the opposite may be true. While the collection of Cold War-era giant bases around the world is shrinking, the global infrastructure of bases overseas has exploded in size and scope.
Unknown to most Americans, Washington’s garrisoning of the planet is on the rise, thanks to a new generation of bases the military calls “lily pads” (as in a frog jumping across a pond toward its prey). These are small, secretive, inaccessible facilities with limited numbers of troops, spartan amenities, and prepositioned weaponry and supplies.
Around the world, from Djibouti to the jungles of Honduras, the deserts of Mauritania to Australia’s tiny Cocos Islands, the Pentagon has been pursuing as many lily pads as it can, in as many countries as it can, as fast as it can. Although statistics are hard to assemble, given the often-secretive nature of such bases, the Pentagon has probably built upwards of 50 lily pads and other small bases since around 2000, while exploring the construction of dozens more.
As Mark Gillem, author of America Town: Building the Outposts of Empire, explains, “avoidance” of local populations, publicity, and potential opposition is the new aim. “To project its power,” he says, the United States wants “secluded and self-contained outposts strategically located” around the world. According to some of the strategy’s strongest proponents at the American Enterprise Institute, the goal should be “to create a worldwide network of frontier forts,” with the U.S. military “the ‘global cavalry’ of the twenty-first century.”
Such lily-pad bases have become a critical part of an evolving Washington military strategy aimed at maintaining U.S. global dominance by doing far more with less in an increasingly competitive, ever more multi-polar world. Central as it’s becoming to the long-term U.S. stance, this global-basing reset policy has, remarkably enough, received almost no public attention, nor significant Congressional oversight. Meanwhile, as the arrival of the first casualties from Africa shows, the U.S. military is getting involved in new areas of the world and new conflicts, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006:
Carl Zimmer reports that in Kansas, a well funded anti-science think-tank is gearing up for a massive campaign of disinformation leading into the August primaries:
Kansas–where the science standards have been softened up for the supernatural and are now considered the worst in the nation–is getting ready for their primaries in August. To support the board members who rewrote the standards, the Discovery Institute–which promotes Intelligent Design, a k a “the progeny of creationism”–has rolled out a big campaign, “Stand Up for Science, Stand Up for Kansas.” They’re all over the place in Kansas, apparently, with ads, meetings, and other activities. This all must cost some serious coin.
About the only locals trying to hold off the right-wing anti-science shills are science bloggers like Josh Rosenau and Pat Hayes, and organizations such as the Kansas Alliance for Education.
Tune in Monday to Friday from 9-11 AM ET for Daily Kos Radio, hosted by David Waldman a/k/a KagroX. You can listen here.
Week Five of Daily Kos Radio! We were joined as usual by DemFromCT, on VP rumors and what they might tell us about the way the Romney camp views the campaign’s development. And I’ll give you one guess what we did with the rest of our time! If you don’t get it, I’ll give you a second, #Retroactively. Plus, a dissection of today’s nonsense from WaPo rightblogger, Jennifer Rubin. Listen to today’s show using the player below. And stay tuned to the Daily Kos Radio page for highlights later in the day.