Lost in all the debate over whether the coup in Honduras was a coup or not is the great big elephant sitting in the room that no one is talking about. What in the world is the U.S. government doing with a military base in Honduras on which hundreds of U.S. soldiers are residing? It seems that the U.S. Empire has become such a strongly established way of life for the American people and the people of the world that U.S. imperial bases around the world are now just the given. Presidents, both foreign and domestic, come and go, but the Empire is permanent, both here and abroad.
To understand the vital importance that overseas military bases play in the U.S. Empire, the best thing to do is read Chalmers Johnson’s analysis of the situation. Begin by reading these three articles and then proceed to Johnson’s trilogy of books.
“America’s Empire of Bases” by Chalmers Johnson
“737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire” by Chalmers Johnson
“How to Deal with America’s Empire of Bases” by Chalmers Johnson
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson
Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson
Essentially, the U.S. Empire operates as follows. Its quest is to place people into power in foreign regimes all over the world who will agree to be loyal members of the U.S. Empire. It is understood that these foreign rulers will have free rein over their own citizens. That is, they are free to do anything they want in order to maintain themselves (and their loyal successors) in power, including terrorizing, brutalizing, torturing, and killing their own people. The Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, and Pervez Musharraf are a few examples of this phenomenon.
To assist the ruler, the Empire agrees to funnel money into his state coffers, under the form of foreign aid or international loans, which are used to purchase a loyal and strong military force whose job is to maintain “law and order.”
Another means of assistance is the Empire’s training of the ruler’s military forces. This is where the U.S. military’s School of the Americas comes into play. It not only trains the military forces of loyal foreign regimes in brutal military tactics to maintain themselves in power, it also maintains close alliances with the military officers in such regimes. Honduras, in fact, along with many other Central American countries, is a good example of this phenomenon.
In return for all this support, the foreign ruler is expected to grant favors to the Empire when called upon. For example, when a vote is needed in the United Nations or troops are needed as part of a “coalition of the willing” to participate in some overseas imperial venture, the foreign ruler is expected to come through.
What happens if a foreign ruler refuses to play ball with the Empire? He is targeted for elimination. Sometimes this means assassination or coup, which is where the CIA comes into play. Sometimes it means funneling U.S. taxpayer money into groups that are seeking to oust the recalcitrant ruler through democratic means. Sometimes it means deadly sanctions and embargoes. Ostracism and the silent treatment are oftentimes employed. And of course there is the ever-present threat of invasions and occupations, which is where the Pentagon comes into play. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and many others are good examples of these phenomena.
The more than 700 hundred U.S. military bases all over the world play an important role in all this. For one, they are a constant reminder, especially in those nations that have the bases, of the ability of the U.S. Empire to effect regime change within that nation or nearby nations. Equally important, all those bases serve as the means by which the Empire is able to project its power around the world, for everyone knows that the bases can easily serve as initiation points for the exercise of imperial military power.
A few days ago, the American people celebrated the Fourth of July, a day on which the British colonies in America rebelled against the British Empire and then established a constitutional republic. Isn’t it ironic that at the same time that Americans were celebrating the Fourth, an event in Honduras reminded them of their fateful decision to abandon their republic and embrace empire in its stead? And isn’t it ironic that Americans are now suffering many of the same ravages of empire that the British Empire was suffering: out of control government spending, ever-increasing debt and taxes, inflation and debasement of the currency, terrorist blowback, brutality, and constant attacks on the privacy and civil liberties of the citizenry?