Thursday, January 22, 2004

Roy is a brilliant and ascerbic critic of U.S. policy. And she's no slouch as a novelist either. It is rare to find a literary talent like hers coupled with such political intelligence and passion.

Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?

By Arundhati Roy
19 January, 2004

Last January thousands of us from across the world gathered in Porto
Allegre in Brazil and declared - reiterated - that "Another World is
Possible". A few thousand miles north, in Washington, George Bush and
his aides were thinking the same thing.

Our project was the World Social Forum. Theirs - to further what many
call The Project for the New American Century.

In the great cities of Europe and America, where a few years ago these
things would only have been whispered, now people are openly talking
about the good side of Imperialism and the need for a strong Empire to
police an unruly world. The new missionaries want order at the cost of
justice. Discipline at the cost of dignity. And ascendancy at any price.
Occasionally some of us are invited to `debate' the issue on `neutral'
platforms provided by the corporate media. Debating Imperialism is a bit
like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really
miss it?

In any case, New Imperialism is already upon us. It's a remodelled,
streamlined version of what we once knew. For the first time in history,
a single Empire with an arsenal of weapons that could obliterate the
world in an afternoon has complete, unipolar, economic and military
hegemony. It uses different weapons to break open different markets.
There isn't a country on God's earth that is not caught in the cross
hairs of the American cruise missile and the IMF chequebook. Argentina's
the model if you want to be the poster-boy of neoliberal capitalism,
Iraq if you're the black sheep.

Poor countries that are geo-politically of strategic value to Empire, or
have a `market' of any size, or infrastructure that can be privatized,
or, god forbid, natural resources of value - oil, gold, diamonds,
cobalt, coal - must do as they're told, or become military targets.
Those with the greatest reserves of natural wealth are most at risk.
Unless they surrender their resources willingly to the corporate
machine, civil unrest will be fomented, or war will be waged. In this
new age of Empire, when nothing is as it appears to be, executives of
concerned companies are allowed to influence foreign policy decisions.
The Centre for Public Integrity in Washington found that nine out of the
30 members of the Defence Policy Board of the U.S. Government were
connected to companies that were awarded defence contracts for $ 76
billion between 2001 and 2002. George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of
State, was Chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He

This brutal blueprint has been used over and over again, across Latin
America, Africa, Central and South-East Asia. It has cost millions of
lives. It goes without saying that every war Empire wages becomes a Just
War. This, in large part, is due to the role of the corporate media.
It's important to understand that the corporate media doesn't just
support the neo-liberal project. It is the neo-liberal project. This is
not a moral position it has chosen to take, it's structural. It's
intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media works.

Most nations have adequately hideous family secrets. So it isn't often
necessary for the media to lie. It's what's emphasised and what's
ignored. Say for example India was chosen as the target for a righteous
war. The fact that about 80,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since
1989, most of them Muslim, most of them by Indian Security Forces
(making the average death toll about 6000 a year); the fact that less
than a year ago, in March of 2003, more than two thousand Muslims were
murdered on the streets of Gujarat, that women were gang-raped and
children were burned alive and a 150,000 people driven from their homes
while the police and administration watched, and sometimes actively
participated; the fact that no one has been punished for these crimes
and the Government that oversaw them was re-elected ... all of this
would make perfect headlines in international newspapers in the run-up
to war.

Next we know, our cities will be levelled by cruise missiles, our
villages fenced in with razor wire, U.S. soldiers will patrol our
streets and, Narendra Modi, Pravin Togadia or any of our popular bigots
could, like Saddam Hussein, be in U.S. custody, having their hair
checked for lice and the fillings in their teeth examined on prime-time

But as long as our `markets' are open, as long as corporations like
Enron, Bechtel, Halliburton, Arthur Andersen are given a free hand, our
`democratically elected' leaders can fearlessly blur the lines between
democracy, majoritarianism and fascism.

Our government's craven willingness to abandon India's proud tradition
of being Non-Aligned, its rush to fight its way to the head of the queue
of the Completely Aligned (the fashionable phrase is `natural ally' -
India, Israel and the U.S. are `natural allies'), has given it the leg
room to turn into a repressive regime without compromising its

A government's victims are not only those that it kills and imprisons.
Those who are displaced and dispossessed and sentenced to a lifetime of
starvation and deprivation must count among them too. Millions of people
have been dispossessed by `development' projects. In the past 55 years,
Big Dams alone have displaced between 33 million and 55 million people
in India. They have no recourse to justice.

In the last two years there has been a series of incidents when police
have opened fire on peaceful protestors, most of them Adivasi and Dalit.
When it comes to the poor, and in particular Dalit and Adivasi
communities, they get killed for encroaching on forest land, and killed
when they're trying to protect forest land from encroachments - by dams,
mines, steel plants and other `development' projects. In almost every
instance in which the police opened fire, the government's strategy has
been to say the firing was provoked by an act of violence. Those who
have been fired upon are immediately called militants.

Across the country, thousands of innocent people including minors have
been arrested under POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) and are being
held in jail indefinitely and without trial. In the era of the War
against Terror, poverty is being slyly conflated with terrorism. In the
era of corporate globalisation, poverty is a crime. Protesting against
further impoverishment is terrorism. And now, our Supreme Court says
that going on strike is a crime. Criticising the court of course is a
crime, too. They're sealing the exits.

Like Old Imperialism, New Imperialism too relies for its success on a
network of agents - corrupt, local elites who service Empire. We all
know the sordid story of Enron in India. The then Maharashtra Government
signed a power purchase agreement which gave Enron profits that amounted
to sixty per cent of India's entire rural development budget. A single
American company was guaranteed a profit equivalent to funds for
infrastructural development for about 500 million people!

Unlike in the old days the New Imperialist doesn't need to trudge around
the tropics risking malaria or diahorrea or early death. New Imperialism
can be conducted on e-mail. The vulgar, hands-on racism of Old
Imperialism is outdated. The cornerstone of New Imperialism is New

The tradition of `turkey pardoning' in the U.S. is a wonderful allegory
for New Racism. Every year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation
presents the U.S. President with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year,
in a show of ceremonial magnanimity, the President spares that
particular bird (and eats another one). After receiving the presidential
pardon, the Chosen One is sent to Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live
out its natural life. The rest of the 50 million turkeys raised for
Thanksgiving are slaughtered and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. ConAgra
Foods, the company that has won the Presidential Turkey contract, says
it trains the lucky birds to be sociable, to interact with dignitaries,
school children and the press. (Soon they'll even speak English!)

That's how New Racism in the corporate era works. A few carefully bred
turkeys - the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy
immigrants, investment bankers, the occasional Colin Powell, or
Condoleezza Rice, some singers, some writers (like myself) - are given
absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park. The remaining millions lose
their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and
electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically they're for the
pot. But the Fortunate Fowls in Frying Pan Park are doing fine. Some of
them even work for the IMF and the WTO - so who can accuse those
organisations of being anti-turkey? Some serve as board members on the
Turkey Choosing Committee - so who can say that turkeys are against
Thanksgiving? They participate in it! Who can say the poor are
anti-corporate globalisation? There's a stampede to get into Frying Pan
Park. So what if most perish on the way?

Part of the project of New Racism is New Genocide. In this new era of
economic interdependence, New Genocide can be facilitated by economic
sanctions. It means creating conditions that lead to mass death without
actually going out and killing people. Dennis Halliday, the U.N.
humanitarian coordinator in Iraq between '97 and '98 (after which he
resigned in disgust), used the term genocide to describe the sanctions
in Iraq. In Iraq the sanctions outdid Saddam Hussein's best efforts by
claiming more than half a million children's lives.

In the new era, Apartheid as formal policy is antiquated and
unnecessary. International instruments of trade and finance oversee a
complex system of multilateral trade laws and financial agreements that
keep the poor in their Bantustans anyway. Its whole purpose is to
institutionalise inequity. Why else would it be that the U.S. taxes a
garment made by a Bangladeshi manufacturer 20 times more than it taxes a
garment made in the U.K.? Why else would it be that countries that grow
90 per cent of the world's cocoa bean produce only 5 per cent of the
world's chocolate? Why else would it be that countries that grow cocoa
bean, like the Ivory Coast and Ghana, are taxed out of the market if
they try and turn it into chocolate? Why else would it be that rich
countries that spend over a billion dollars a day on subsidies to
farmers demand that poor countries like India withdraw all agricultural
subsidies, including subsidised electricity? Why else would it be that

For all these reasons, the derailing of trade agreements at Cancun was
crucial for us. Though our governments try and take the credit, we know
that it was the result of years of struggle by many millions of people
in many, many countries. What Cancun taught us is that in order to
inflict real damage and force radical change, it is vital for local
resistance movements to make international alliances. From Cancun we
learned the importance of globalising resistance.

No individual nation can stand up to the project of Corporate
Globalisation on its own. Time and again we have seen that when it comes
to the neo-liberal project, the heroes of our times are suddenly
diminished. Extraordinary, charismatic men, giants in Opposition, when
they seize power and become Heads of State, they become powerless on the
global stage. I'm thinking here of President Lula of Brazil. Lula was
the hero of the World Social Forum last year. This year he's busy
implementing IMF guidelines, reducing pension benefits and purging
radicals from the Workers' Party. I'm thinking also of ex-President of
South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Within two years of taking office in 1994,
his government genuflected with hardly a caveat to the Market God. It
instituted a massive programme of privatisation and structural
adjustment, which has left millions of people homeless, jobless and
without water and electricity.

Why does this happen? There's little point in beating our breasts and
feeling betrayed. Lula and Mandela are, by any reckoning, magnificent
men. But the moment they cross the floor from the Opposition into
Government they become hostage to a spectrum of threats - most
malevolent among them the threat of capital flight, which can destroy
any government overnight. To imagine that a leader's personal charisma
and a c.v. of struggle will dent the Corporate Cartel is to have no
understanding of how Capitalism works, or for that matter, how power
works. Radical change will not be negotiated by governments; it can only
be enforced by people.

This week at the World Social Forum, some of the best minds in the world
will exchange ideas about what is happening around us. These
conversations refine our vision of the kind of world we're fighting for.
It is a vital process that must not be undermined. However, if all our
energies are diverted into this process at the cost of real political
action, then the WSF, which has played such a crucial role in the
Movement for Global Justice, runs the risk of becoming an asset to our
enemies. What we need to discuss urgently is strategies of resistance.
We need to aim at real targets, wage real battles and inflict real
damage. Gandhi's Salt March was not just political theatre. When, in a
simple act of defiance, thousands of Indians marched to the sea and made
their own salt, they broke the salt tax laws. It was a direct strike at
the economic underpinning of the British Empire. It was real. While our
movement has won some important victories, we must not allo

It was wonderful that on February 15th last year, in a spectacular
display of public morality, 10 million people in five continents marched
against the war on Iraq. It was wonderful, but it was not enough.
February 15th was a weekend. Nobody had to so much as miss a day of
work. Holiday protests don't stop wars. George Bush knows that. The
confidence with which he disregarded overwhelming public opinion should
be a lesson to us all. Bush believes that Iraq can be occupied and
colonised - as Afghanistan has been, as Tibet has been, as Chechnya is
being, as East Timor once was and Palestine still is. He thinks that all
he has to do is hunker down and wait until a crisis-driven media, having
picked this crisis to the bone, drops it and moves on. Soon the carcass
will slip off the best-seller charts, and all of us outraged folks will
lose interest. Or so he hopes.

This movement of ours needs a major, global victory. It's not good
enough to be right. Sometimes, if only in order to test our resolve,
it's important to win something. In order to win something, we - all of
us gathered here and a little way away at Mumbai Resistance - need to
agree on something. That something does not need to be an over-arching
pre-ordained ideology into which we force-fit our delightfully factious,
argumentative selves. It does not need to be an unquestioning allegiance
to one or another form of resistance to the exclusion of everything
else. It could be a minimum agenda.

If all of us are indeed against Imperialism and against the project of
neo-liberalism, then let's turn our gaze on Iraq. Iraq is the inevitable
culmination of both. Plenty of anti-war activists have retreated in
confusion since the capture of Saddam Hussein. Isn't the world better
off without Saddam Hussein? they ask timidly.

Let's look this thing in the eye once and for all. To applaud the U.S.
army's capture of Saddam Hussein and therefore, in retrospect, justify
its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like deifying Jack the Ripper for
disembowelling the Boston Strangler. And that - after a quarter century
partnership in which the Ripping and Strangling was a joint enterprise.
It's an in-house quarrel. They're business partners who fell out over a
dirty deal. Jack's the CEO.

So if we are against Imperialism, shall we agree that we are against the
U.S. occupation and that we believe that the U.S. must withdraw from
Iraq and pay reparations to the Iraqi people for the damage that the war
has inflicted?

How do we begin to mount our resistance? Let's start with something
really small. The issue is not about supporting the resistance in Iraq
against the occupation or discussing who exactly constitutes the
resistance. (Are they old Killer Ba'athists, are they Islamic

We have to become the global resistance to the occupation.

Our resistance has to begin with a refusal to accept the legitimacy of
the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It means acting to make it materially
impossible for Empire to achieve its aims. It means soldiers should
refuse to fight, reservists should refuse to serve, workers should
refuse to load ships and aircraft with weapons. It certainly means that
in countries like India and Pakistan we must block the U.S. government's
plans to have Indian and Pakistani soldiers sent to Iraq to clean up
after them.

I suggest that at a joint closing ceremony of the World Social Forum and
Mumbai Resistance, we choose, by some means, two of the major
corporations that are profiting from the destruction of Iraq. We could
then list every project they are involved in. We could locate their
offices in every city and every country across the world. We could go
after them. We could shut them down. It's a question of bringing our
collective wisdom and experience of past struggles to bear on a single
target. It's a question of the desire to win.

The Project For The New American Century seeks to perpetuate inequity
and establish American hegemony at any price, even if it's apocalyptic.
The World Social Forum demands justice and survival.

For these reasons, we must consider ourselves at war.

(c)Arundhati Roy

Friday, January 16, 2004

America's Empire of Bases
by Chalmers Johnson

As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts. One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales. On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.

At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases

It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

For their occupants, these are not unpleasant places to live and work. Military service today, which is voluntary, bears almost no relation to the duties of a soldier during World War II or the Korean or Vietnamese wars. Most chores like laundry, KP ("kitchen police"), mail call, and cleaning latrines have been subcontracted to private military companies like Kellogg, Brown & Root, DynCorp, and the Vinnell Corporation. Fully one-third of the funds recently appropriated for the war in Iraq (about $30 billion), for instance, are going into private American hands for exactly such services. Where possible everything is done to make daily existence seem like a Hollywood version of life at home. According to the Washington Post, in Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, waiters in white shirts, black pants, and black bow ties serve dinner to the officers of the 82nd Airborne Division in their heavily guarded compound, and the first Burger King has already gone up inside the enormous military base we've established at Baghdad International Airport.

Some of these bases are so gigantic they require as many as nine internal bus routes for soldiers and civilian contractors to get around inside the earthen berms and concertina wire. That's the case at Camp Anaconda, headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, whose job is to police some 1,500 square miles of Iraq north of Baghdad, from Samarra to Taji. Anaconda occupies 25 square kilometers and will ultimately house as many as 20,000 troops. Despite extensive security precautions, the base has frequently come under mortar attack, notably on the Fourth of July, 2003, just as Arnold Schwarzenegger was chatting up our wounded at the local field hospital.

The military prefers bases that resemble small fundamentalist towns in the Bible Belt rather than the big population centers of the United States. For example, even though more than 100,000 women live on our overseas bases -- including women in the services, spouses, and relatives of military personnel -- obtaining an abortion at a local military hospital is prohibited. Since there are some 14,000 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults each year in the military, women who become pregnant overseas and want an abortion have no choice but to try the local economy, which cannot be either easy or pleasant in Baghdad or other parts of our empire these days.

Our armed missionaries live in a closed-off, self-contained world serviced by its own airline -- the Air Mobility Command, with its fleet of long-range C-17 Globemasters, C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters, KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders, and C-9 Nightingales that link our far-flung outposts from Greenland to Australia. For generals and admirals, the military provides seventy-one Learjets, thirteen Gulfstream IIIs, and seventeen Cessna Citation luxury jets to fly them to such spots as the armed forces' ski and vacation center at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps or to any of the 234 military golf courses the Pentagon operates worldwide. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld flies around in his own personal Boeing 757, called a C-32A in the Air Force.

Our "Footprint" on the World

Of all the insensitive, if graphic, metaphors we've allowed into our vocabulary, none quite equals "footprint" to describe the military impact of our empire. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers and senior members of the Senate's Military Construction Subcommittee such as Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are apparently incapable of completing a sentence without using it. Establishing a more impressive footprint has now become part of the new justification for a major enlargement of our empire -- and an announced repositioning of our bases and forces abroad -- in the wake of our conquest of Iraq. The man in charge of this project is Andy Hoehn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. He and his colleagues are supposed to draw up plans to implement President Bush's preventive war strategy against "rogue states," "bad guys," and "evil-doers." They have identified something they call the "arc of instability," which is said to run from the Andean region of South America (read: Colombia) through North Africa and then sweeps across the Middle East to the Philippines and Indonesia. This is, of course, more or less identical with what used to be called the Third World -- and perhaps no less crucially it covers the world's key oil reserves. Hoehn contends, "When you overlay our footprint onto that, we don't look particularly well-positioned to deal with the problems we're now going to confront."

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that grows with it. Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other. Already highly advanced in our country, they are both on the verge of a quantum leap that will almost surely stretch our military beyond its capabilities, bringing about fiscal insolvency and very possibly doing mortal damage to our republican institutions. The only way this is discussed in our press is via reportage on highly arcane plans for changes in basing policy and the positioning of troops abroad -- and these plans, as reported in the media, cannot be taken at face value.

Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson, commanding our 1,800 troops occupying the old French Foreign Legion base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti at the entrance to the Red Sea, claims that in order to put "preventive war" into action, we require a "global presence," by which he means gaining hegemony over any place that is not already under our thumb. According to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, the idea is to create "a global cavalry" that can ride in from "frontier stockades" and shoot up the "bad guys" as soon as we get some intelligence on them.

"Lily Pads" in Australia, Romania, Mali, Algeria . . .

In order to put our forces close to every hot spot or danger area in this newly discovered arc of instability, the Pentagon has been proposing -- this is usually called "repositioning" -- many new bases, including at least four and perhaps as many as six permanent ones in Iraq. A number of these are already under construction -- at Baghdad International Airport, Tallil air base near Nasariyah, in the western desert near the Syrian border, and at Bashur air field in the Kurdish region of the north. (This does not count the previously mentioned Anaconda, which is currently being called an "operating base," though it may very well become permanent over time.) In addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole northern quarter of Kuwait -- 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait's 6,900 square miles -- that we now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for Green Zone bureaucrats to relax.

Other countries mentioned as sites for what Colin Powell calls our new "family of bases" include: In the impoverished areas of the "new" Europe -- Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria; in Asia -- Pakistan (where we already have four bases), India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even, unbelievably, Vietnam; in North Africa -- Morocco, Tunisia, and especially Algeria (scene of the slaughter of some 100,00 civilians since 1992, when, to quash an election, the military took over, backed by our country and France); and in West Africa -- Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra Leone (even though it has been torn by civil war since 1991). The models for all these new installations, according to Pentagon sources, are the string of bases we have built around the Persian Gulf in the last two decades in such anti-democratic autocracies as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Most of these new bases will be what the military, in a switch of metaphors, calls "lily pads" to which our troops could jump like so many well-armed frogs from the homeland, our remaining NATO bases, or bases in the docile satellites of Japan and Britain. To offset the expense involved in such expansion, the Pentagon leaks plans to close many of the huge Cold War military reservations in Germany, South Korea, and perhaps Okinawa as part of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's "rationalization" of our armed forces. In the wake of the Iraq victory, the U.S. has already withdrawn virtually all of its forces from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, partially as a way of punishing them for not supporting the war strongly enough. It wants to do the same thing to South Korea, perhaps the most anti-American democracy on Earth today, which would free up the 2nd Infantry Division on the demilitarized zone with North Korea for probable deployment to Iraq, where our forces are significantly overstretched.

In Europe, these plans include giving up several bases in Germany, also in part because of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's domestically popular defiance of Bush over Iraq. But the degree to which we are capable of doing so may prove limited indeed. At the simplest level, the Pentagon's planners do not really seem to grasp just how many buildings the 71,702 soldiers and airmen in Germany alone occupy and how expensive it would be to reposition most of them and build even slightly comparable bases, together with the necessary infrastructure, in former Communist countries like Romania, one of Europe's poorest countries. Lt. Col. Amy Ehmann in Hanau, Germany, has said to the press "There's no place to put these people" in Romania, Bulgaria, or Djibouti, and she predicts that 80% of them will in the end stay in Germany. It's also certain that generals of the high command have no intention of living in backwaters like Constanta, Romania, and will keep the U.S. military headquarters in Stuttgart while holding on to Ramstein Air Force Base, Spangdahlem Air Force Base, and the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

One reason why the Pentagon is considering moving out of rich democracies like Germany and South Korea and looks covetously at military dictatorships and poverty-stricken dependencies is to take advantage of what the Pentagon calls their "more permissive environmental regulations." The Pentagon always imposes on countries in which it deploys our forces so-called Status of Forces Agreements, which usually exempt the United States from cleaning up or paying for the environmental damage it causes. This is a standing grievance in Okinawa, where the American environmental record has been nothing short of abominable. Part of this attitude is simply the desire of the Pentagon to put itself beyond any of the restraints that govern civilian life, an attitude increasingly at play in the "homeland" as well. For example, the 2004 defense authorization bill of $401.3 billion that President Bush signed into law in November 2003 exempts the military from abiding by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

While there is every reason to believe that the impulse to create ever more lily pads in the Third World remains unchecked, there are several reasons to doubt that some of the more grandiose plans, for either expansion or downsizing, will ever be put into effect or, if they are, that they will do anything other than make the problem of terrorism worse than it is. For one thing, Russia is opposed to the expansion of U.S. military power on its borders and is already moving to checkmate American basing sorties into places like Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The first post-Soviet-era Russian airbase in Kyrgyzstan has just been completed forty miles from the U.S. base at Bishkek, and in December 2003, the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, declared that he would not permit a permanent deployment of U.S. forces in his country even though we already have a base there.

When it comes to downsizing, on the other hand, domestic politics may come into play. By law the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closing Commission must submit its fifth and final list of domestic bases to be shut down to the White House by September 8, 2005. As an efficiency measure, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said he'd like to be rid of at least one-third of domestic Army bases and one-quarter of domestic Air Force bases, which is sure to produce a political firestorm on Capitol Hill. In order to protect their respective states' bases, the two mother hens of the Senate's Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein, are demanding that the Pentagon close overseas bases first and bring the troops now stationed there home to domestic bases, which could then remain open. Hutchison and Feinstein included in the Military Appropriations Act of 2004 money for an independent commission to investigate and report on overseas bases that are no longer needed. The Bush administration opposed this provision of the Act but it passed anyway and the president signed it into law on November 22, 2003. The Pentagon is probably adept enough to hamstring the commission, but a domestic base-closing furor clearly looms on the horizon.

By far the greatest defect in the "global cavalry" strategy, however, is that it accentuates Washington's impulse to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism. As the prominent British military historian, Correlli Barnett, has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq only increased the threat of al-Qaeda. From 1993 through the 9/11 assaults of 2001, there were five major al-Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the two years since then there have been seventeen such bombings, including the Istanbul suicide assaults on the British consulate and an HSBC Bank. Military operations against terrorists are not the solution. As Barnett puts it, "Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and complex societies with simple nostrums of 'freedom and democracy,' we need tactics of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the people and cultures we are dealing with -- an understanding up till now entirely lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in the Pentagon."

In his notorious "long, hard slog" memo on Iraq of October 16, 2003, Defense secretary Rumsfeld wrote, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." Correlli-Barnett's "metrics" indicate otherwise. But the "war on terrorism" is at best only a small part of the reason for all our military strategizing. The real reason for constructing this new ring of American bases along the equator is to expand our empire and reinforce our military domination of the world.

Chalmers Johnson's latest book is ' The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic' (Metropolitan). His previous book, 'Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire,' has just been updated with a new introduction.

Copyright C2004 Chalmers Johnson

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The latest development in the right's never ending campaign to drive serious foreign policy and area-studies scholarship out of the American academy and to replace it with mindless propaganda parroting the State Department/Pentagon line of the day. What's next? American Lysenkoism?

Middle East Studies Under Scrutiny in U.S.
Watchdog Groups Allege Left-Wing Bias

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2004; Page A01

When Rashid Khalidi took over the newly established Edward Said Chair
of Middle East Studies at Columbia University last fall, the
appointment was generally viewed as an academic coup for the school,
which had succeeded in wooing away a prominent Middle East expert from
the University of Chicago, a longtime rival.

But Khalidi soon became the target of an Internet campaign that
questioned his patriotism. Conservative critics zeroed in on his
outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and his public expressions of
sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

"Columbia vs. America," declared a story on Campus Watch, a Web site
dedicated to revealing the alleged bias of mainstream Middle East
studies programs at U.S. colleges and universities. The New York Sun
dubbed Khalidi "the professor of hate."

These are the best of times and the worst of times for the
once-neglected field of Middle East studies. Enrollments in
Arabic-language courses and area studies programs have boomed in the
wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Government funding is up. Universities and
colleges are recruiting Middle East experts as fast as they can.

At the same time, academics who specialize in the region complain that
they are under siege from conservative think tanks and self-appointed
campus watchdog organizations. They say these efforts have resulted in
a flood of abusive e-mail and calls for tightening congressional
control over the funding of Middle East studies programs, which, they
contend, could undermine academic freedoms.

Barbara Petzen, outreach coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern
Studies at Harvard University, denounced a "right-wing thought police
that is sending spies into classrooms to report on what teachers are
saying in class." Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for
Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, said his campus has
become the target of a McCarthyist "witch hunt."

"Middle East studies have not served us well," countered Daniel Pipes,
who founded Campus Watch a year ago as an offshoot of the Middle East
Forum, a private think tank dedicated to "promoting American interests
in the Middle East." He said mainstream academics had failed to
adequately explain the threat posed by Islamic terrorism and were prone
to overlook political repression in Arab countries.

"Americans need to know what terms like 'jihad' mean, and why we are
being attacked," he said. "This is at the very heart of our foreign and
domestic policy."

In recent months, Pipes and other conservatives have begun pushing for
stronger congressional oversight of the $95 million in government
subsidies for Middle East and other area studies programs. Legislation
under consideration by Congress includes a provision for the
establishment of an advisory board to ensure that government-funded
academic programs "reflect diverse perspectives and [a] full range of

Some Middle East experts fear that the seven-member board would be
dominated by spokesmen for the Bush administration and strong advocates
of Israel.

"It's the thin end of the wedge," said Khalidi, who argues that the
demand for "balance" in Middle East studies could degenerate into a
"political correctness test."

Pipes, who has angered Arab American groups by calling for stringent
background checks on Muslim visitors to the United States, said the
McCarthyism charge is "silly." Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) was "a
high government official with coercive powers at his disposal," Pipes
said. "We are a tiny think tank, with few resources." He described
Campus Watch as a kind of consumer guide to Middle East studies.

"We are like the toaster specialists who want to see how the toaster
works," he said.

Government funding of area studies programs goes back to the height of
the Cold War, when the launch of Sputnik in 1957 appeared to
demonstrate an "education gap" between the Soviet Union and the United
States. The Eisenhower administration responded with the National
Defense Education Act, which authorized the public funding of
foreign-language studies and national resource centers for politically
sensitive areas, including the communist world and the Middle East.

Area studies went into a sharp decline after the end of the Cold War
and the collapse of communism, and grant money began to dry up. At many
leading universities, including Harvard and Princeton, it was much
easier to raise money for political science programs than for area

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon reversed the
trend. Within a few weeks of the attacks, Congress authorized an
additional $20 million for area studies and language programs, with
much of the money for focus on the Middle East and Asia. There are now
17 national resource centers for Middle East studies at U.S.
universities, up from 14 in 2001. Grants for graduate research have
increased by 250 percent, according to data collected by Miriam
Kazanjian, a consultant for the Coalition for International Education.

Colleges across the country are scrambling to recruit Middle East
experts, said Amy Newhall, executive director of the Middle East
Studies Association, who teaches an introductory course in Arab
literature and culture at the University of Arizona. Last fall, about
400 students signed up for Newhall's course, nearly double the pre-2001

The increased visibility of Middle East studies has also spawned a
cottage industry of mostly conservative critics who comb through what
was once an academic backwater for signs of "bias" or "lack of
balance." Campus Watch and other Web sites urge students to supply
information about their own professors.

"Academic colleagues, get used to it," wrote Martin Kramer, a Pipes
ally and author of "Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern
Studies in America." "You are being watched. Those obscure articles in
campus newspapers are now available on the Internet, and they will be
harvested. Your syllabi, which you've also posted, will be scrutinized.
Your websites will be visited late at night."

Kramer's comments were cited by Lisa Anderson, dean of international
and public affairs at Columbia, as evidence of an atmosphere of
intimidation that now surrounds Middle East studies at many

Kramer, who teaches Arab history at Tel Aviv University, described his
remarks as "tongue in cheek" and accused many Middle East scholars of
being overly sensitive to criticism. "Academics make their living
ridiculing government policies and the superficiality of the media, but
when anybody examines their performance, they throw up their hands with
cries of McCarthyism," he said. "There's a real asymmetry here."

Some professors, including Khalidi, said they became the target of
massive e-mail campaigns after they were denounced as "left-wing
extremists" by Pipes in a June 2002 article in the New York Post.
Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi said his voice mail was filled with
"racist and obscene" messages, including one denouncing him as "a
stinking, terrorist Muslim pig."

Pipes has also become a divisive figure on American campuses. Many Arab
Americans were outraged last year when President Bush appointed him to
the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a
government-funded think tank in Washington. When Pipes addressed a
recent meeting at Yale University, he was greeted by dozens of student
protesters dressed in black with black gags across their mouths.

A favorite target for Campus Watch is the late Edward Said, a Columbia
University professor best known for his book "Orientalism," which
denounced the "neo-colonialist" policies of successive U.S.
administrations. Its hero is Bernard Lewis, a professor of Near Eastern
Studies at Princeton and the author of several books that analyze the
rise of Islamic terror movements.

Pipes said the push for an advisory board to supervise the
distribution of government funds for area studies programs was designed
as a "shot across the bows" of what he considers to be the radical
Middle East studies lobby centered in universities such as Columbia,
Georgetown and the University of Chicago. "It is important
symbolically," he said. "It will not materially change anything, but it
will alert Congress to the problem."

The proposed changes are now under consideration by the Senate after
receiving unanimous approval in the House. Officials at Columbia and
other universities say the subsidies represent less than 10 percent of
the money they spend on Middle East studies, and they would prefer to
reject government funding altogether than to accept outside supervision.

Last year, Georgetown was accused by Campus Watch of using government
money to organize a symposium on the war in Iraq dominated by critics
of the Bush administration. University officials are unrepentant,
saying it is pointless to look for political balance in every single
seminar or lecture.

"We are very sensitive to having strings attached to what we do," said
Hudson, the director of Georgetown's Arab studies program. "If an Arab
government came to us and said, 'We will give you money, but we will
have an advisory body check up on what you do with it,' I don't think
we would take the money."