U.S. expanding roster of foreign bases

Three U.S. foreign bases are in the works that portend far-reaching consequences. They warrant addition to the scorecard kept by analyst Chalmers Johnson as to the total of U.S. foreign bases. Last year Johnson counted almost 750 bases in over 130 countries.

The first newcomer to the list is a base under way in Dutch-owned Aruba, off Venezuela’s northern coast. On his weekly television show July 20, Venezuelan ex-vice President Jose Vicente Rangel described U.S. construction at the Queen Beatrix Airport where subterranean excavations suggest preparation for military installations.

The build-up is aimed not only at expanded aerial and electronic espionage operations but also, according to Rangel, at backup for the newly reactivated U.S. Fourth Fleet. He charges that the purpose is enhanced capabilities to attack Venezuela, a purpose also envisioned for a possible U.S. base in Colombia’s northeastern La Guajira state. Another future addition may well derive from U.S. preparations to build a military airport in Kurdish-controlled Halajaba, a city in northern Iraq close to the Iranian border. Mayor Khadr Karim Mohammad said 1,500 acres have been designated nearby. He said landowners will be reimbursed. The July 22 report on www.presstv.ir cited “an anonymous Iraqi official [who] said the project is likely to be a ‘cover’ for an air base.”

Le Monde reported last year that Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdish regional government, would accept the plans once they are approved by Iraqi government officials in Baghdad and authorities in nearby Erbil, site of a major Kurdish region airport. Lastly, the project of turning Guam into what the U.S. military calls “the tip of the spear” and “the unsinkable aircraft carrier” received unaccustomed publicity in Inter Press Service’s two-part interview with Guam independence activist Julian Aguon.

Under a 2005 agreement with Japan, Washington promised to remove 8,000 Marines from Okinawa. They are headed for Guam, population 170,000, where by 2014 the troop census will have risen to 40,000, with additional military dependents. On the agenda for the project are air surveillance capabilities, missile defense systems, and deep-water port facilities allowing nuclear aircraft carriers to dock.

For Julian Aguon, speaking for the 63,000 ethnic Chamorro people living on the island, the issue is colonialism. “The U.S. government basically decided to flood our ancient homeland with this many people, this many nuclear submarines, all of this destruction, without one bona fide public meeting, without any semblance of true consultation of the entire indigenous population of Guam.”

The $15 billion price tag for the massive project underscores his people’s subservient status. Teachers worry about being paid, he reports, adding, “We don’t even have adequate supplies of toilet tissue in Guam public high schools.”

Last year, Aguon and other Guam anti-militarist activists were present at the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases in Quito, Ecuador. There, he said, “We really made some new links but deepened our friendships with other people who are struggling across the Asia-Pacific region.” The problem is that “We come from such a small place and we are such a small population. We need international support, we need allies.”