Amid the distractions of the holiday season, The New York Times revealed that the Obama administration is considering a Pentagon proposal to create a “new” and “enduring” system of military bases around the Middle East. Though this is being presented as a response to the rise of the Islamic State and other militant groups, there’s remarkably little that’s new about the Pentagon plan. For more than 36 years, the US military has been building an unprecedented constellation of bases that stretches from Southern Europe and the Middle East to Africa and Southwest Asia.
The record of these bases is disastrous.
... Across the Middle East, there’s a correlation between a US basing presence and Al Qaeda’s recruitment success. According to former West Point professor Bradley Bowman, US bases and troops in the Middle East have been a “major catalyst for anti-Americanism and radicalization” since a suicide bomber killed 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983.
... Elsewhere, US bases offer legitimacy to hosts the Economist Democracy Index considers “authoritarian regimes,” effectively helping to block the spread of democracy in countries including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. ... cost estimates reported in the New York Times in the “low millions” are laughable, if not intentionally misleading.
Thirty-six years into the US base build-up in the Greater Middle East, military force has failed as a strategy for controlling the region, no less defeating terrorist organizations. Sadly, this infrastructure of war has been in place for so long and is now so taken for granted that most Americans seldom think about it.
... Investing in “enduring” bases rather than diplomatic, political, and humanitarian efforts to reduce conflict across the region is likely to do little more than ensure enduring war.
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