The Military Bases of U.S. imperialism

Gilberto López y Rivas

For those who consider the terms imperialism and colonialism to be outmoded, demodé, and prefer to use euphemisms such as neoliberal globalization or new world order, and refer disparagingly to an idealization of social science based on a Marxism surpassed by the realities of the 21st century, the organization World Beyond War has generously made available to journalists, activists, researchers and individual readers a new online tool that allows them to observe the location on the globe of the 867 U.S. bases outside its territory. The tool provides a description of each, date of opening, number of personnel, areas occupied and types of government (, providing a video tutorial on this research material . (

Following sociologist Wright Mills’ recommendations that a public intelligence body should be created to investigate power structures and challenge economic, political and military elites, the purpose of this commendable organization is to help understand the immense problem of excessive preparation for war, which inevitably leads to intimidation, meddling, threats, escalation and mass atrocity. World Beyond War hopes to draw attention to the broader problem of preparations for war.

It asserts that the United States is the only state to maintain this massive network of foreign military facilities around the world, raising the question: how was this created and how does it continue? Some of these facilities are located on tracts of land considered spoils of war, although most are maintained through collaboration with governments, many of them brutal and oppressive, who benefit from the presence of the bases. Undoubtedly, this has caused displacement of populations engaged in agriculture and other productive activities, provoking high levels of many types of contamination of local water systems, habitat and atmosphere, and, consequently, has given rise to the emergence of resistance movements against this neocolonial occupation of the territory.

World Beyond Wars Webinar Series

They argue that U.S. foreign bases often increase geopolitical tensions, support authoritarian and undemocratic regimes, and serve as platforms for neocolonial wars such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. They point out that across the U.S. political spectrum, and even within the military, there is growing recognition that many overseas bases should have been closed decades ago, and that this is due to the bureaucratic inertia and misguided political interests that have kept them open, with the annual cost to U.S. taxpayers of maintaining this enormous military apparatus estimated to be between $100 billion and $250 billion. The permanence of the military bases is also due to the role they play in the reproduction and safeguarding of the capitalist system as a whole, and, in particular, of the vast economic and geopolitical interests of the United States to maintain its position as the main planetary imperialist power.

In this regard, it is important to take into account the analysis of our colleague William A. Robinson, insofar as the U.S. State manages the only important instruments of coercion on a global scale, and his contribution of the concept of the global police state is outstanding in order to identify more broadly the emerging character of a global economy and society as a repressive complex, whose logic is cultural and economic, as well as political and, I would add, military. He refers to the global police state as comprising three interrelated factors: first, there is the increasingly pervasive system of social control, repression and warfare promoted by ruling groups to contain actual or potential rebellion by the global working class and humanity deemed surplus to requirements. Secondly, he locates the development and application, ever greater, of this repressive system as a means to ensure the profits and continuity of capital accumulation, in the face of its stagnation, through what Robinson calls militarized accumulation and/or repressive (and I would add, criminal) accumulation. Thirdly, he points to the trend towards political systems that can be characterized as 21st century fascism or, in a broader sense, totalitarianism. In parallel, a neo-fascist culture imposes itself through militarism, misogyny and extreme masculinization, along with racism.

Published on May 26th 2023 in La Jornada English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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