July 30, 2009

CRUSADER-IN-CHIEF:

Obama’s empire: The 44th president of the United States was elected amid hopes that he would roll back his country’s global dominance. Today, he is commander-in-chief of an unprecedented network of military bases that is still expanding. (Catherine Lutz, 30 July 2009, New Statesman)

Unfortunately, many of the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts are being directed towards maintaining and garnering new access for the US military across the globe. US military officials, through their Korean proxies, have completed the eviction of resistant rice farmers from their land around Camp Humphreys, South Korea, for its expansion (including a new 18-hole golf course); they are busily making back-room deals with officials in the Northern Mariana Islands to gain the use of the Pacific islands there for bombing and training purposes; and they are scrambling to express support for a regime in Kyrgyzstan that has been implicated in the murder of its political opponents but whose Manas Airbase, used to stage US military actions in Afghanistan since 2001, Obama and the Pentagon consider crucial for the expanded war there.

The global reach of the US military today is unprecedented and unparalleled. Officially, more than 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater). The US military owns or rents 795,000 acres of land, with 26,000 buildings and structures, valued at $146bn (£89bn). The bases bristle with an inventory of weapons whose worth is measured in the trillions and whose killing power could wipe out all life on earth several times over.


But only if you won't conform to our ideals.

Regardless of what he would choose to do in a political vacuum, Mr. Obama happens to be the elected leader of the Anglosphere, so he doesn't actually have a choice.

MORE:
Two cheers for the US empire!: What is historically distinct about US power is that it has quite remarkably enabled the spread of human liberty and representative government, through time and across cultures. (Thomas Donnelly, 30 July 2009, New Statesman)

The argument against US overseas military bases is almost always a surrogate argument against the exercise of US power. But you can't have one without the other. And the annoying thing about American hyperpuissance is that, compared to other probable outcomes, it produces what appears to be the least bad international system. And so, various allies continue to tolerate, and even encourage, the presence of US military installations in their countries. [...]

[T]hat there should be a liberal purpose to statecraft is a rather uniquely Anglo-American, almost Whiggish idea. What is historically distinct about US power is that it correlates quite remarkably with the spread of human liberty and representative government, through time and across cultures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 30, 2009 7:36 AM
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