By Kathy Kelly, World BEYOND War, April 29, 2023
A Gazan Ph.D. candidate studying in India, Mohammad Abunahel steadily refines and updates a map on the World BEYOND War website, dedicating a portion of every day to continue researching the extent and impact of USA foreign bases. What is Mohammad Abunahel learning, and how can we support him?
On the few occasions when a government moves toward converting property or weapon production facilities into something useful for human beings, I can’t restrain a tumbling brainstorm: what if this signals a trend, what if practical problem-solving begins to trump reckless war preparation? And so, when Spain’s President Sanchez announced on April 26th that his government will build 20,000 homes for social housing on land owned by the country’s Ministry of Defense, I immediately thought about crowded refugee camps around the world and inhumane treatment of people without homes. Visualize the vast capacity to welcome people into decent housing and promising futures if space, energy, ingenuity and funds were diverted from the Pentagon to meet human needs.
We need glimmers of imagination about the worldwide potential for accomplishing good results by choosing the “works of mercy” over “the works of war.” Why not brainstorm about how resources devoted to military goals of domination and destruction could be put to use defending people against the greatest threats we all face, – the looming terror of ecological collapse, the ongoing potential for new pandemics, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and threats to use them?
But a crucial first step entails fact-based education about the global infrastructure of the USA’s military empire. What is the cost of maintaining each base, how much environmental damage does each base cause (consider depleted uranium poison, water contamination, noise pollution, and risks of nuclear weapon storage). We also need analysis about ways the bases exacerbate the likelihood of war and prolong the vicious spirals of violence attendant on all wars. How does the U.S. military justify the base, and what is the human rights record of the government the U.S. negotiated with to build the base?
Tom Englehardt of Tom Dispatch notes the paucity of discussion about the expanse of U.S. military bases, some of which he calls MIA because the U.S. military manipulates information and neglects to even name various forwarding operating bases. “With very little oversight or discussion,” says Englehardt, “the massive (and massively expensive) base structure remains in place.”
Thanks to the tenacious work of researchers who formed the No Bases campaign, World BEYOND War now presents the many-faced hydra of U.S. militarism, worldwide, in a visual database.
Researchers, scholars, journalists, students and activists can consult this tool for help in exploring vital questions about the cost and impact of the bases.
It’s a unique and challenging resource.
At the helm of daily exploration enabling the mapping project’s growth is Mohammad Abunahel.
On almost any given day in Abunahel’s busy life, he sets aside time, far more than he is compensated for, to work on the mapping project. He and his wife are both Ph.D. students in Mysore, India. They share caring for their infant son, Munir. He takes care of the baby while she studies and then they trade roles. For years, Abunahel has devoted skill and energy to create a map which now draws the most “hits” of any section on the WBW website. He considers the maps as a step in addressing wider problems of militarism. The unique concept shows all U.S. bases along with their negative impacts in one data base which is easy to navigate. This allows people to grasp the intensifying toll of U.S. militarism and also provides information useful for taking action to close bases.
Abunahel has good reason to resist military dominance and the threats of destroying cities and towns with overwhelming weaponry. He grew up in Gaza. Throughout his young life, before he finally managed to obtain visas and scholarships to study in India, he experienced constant violence and deprivation. As one of ten children in an impoverished family, he readily applied himself in classroom studies, hoping to improve his chances for a normal life, but along with the constant threats of Israeli military violence, Abunahel faced closed doors, dwindling options, and rising anger, his own and that of most other people he knew. He wanted out. Having lived through successive Israeli Occupation Force onslaughts, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent people of Gaza, including children, and destroying homes, schools, roadways, electrical infrastructure, fisheries and farms, Abunahel grew certain that no country has a right to destroy another.
He’s also adamant about our collective responsibility to question justifications for the U.S. network of military bases. Abunahel rejects the notion that the bases are necessary to protect U.S. people. He sees clear patterns showing the base network being used to impose U.S. national interests on people in other countries. The threat is clear: if you do not submit yourselves to fulfill U.S. national interests, the United States could eliminate you. And if you don’t believe this, look at other countries that were surrounded by U.S. bases. Consider Iraq, or Afghanistan.
David Swanson, the Executive Director of World BEYOND War, reviewing David Vine’s book, The United States of War, notes that “since the 1950s, a U.S. military presence has correlated with the U.S. military starting conflicts. Vine modifies a line from Field of Dreams to refer not to a baseball field but to bases: ‘If you build them, wars will come.’ Vine also chronicles countless examples of wars begetting bases begetting wars begetting bases that not only beget yet more wars but also serve to justify the expense of more weapons and troops to fill the bases, while simultaneously producing blowback — all of which factors build momentum toward more wars.”
Illustrating the extent of the USA’s network of military outposts deserves support. Calling attention to the WBW website and using it to help resist all wars are vital ways to expand the potential for expanding and organizing resistance to U.S. militarism. WBW will also welcome financial contributions to assist Mohammad Abunahel and his wife who are, by the way, excitedly awaiting the birth of their second child. WBW would like to increase the small income he earns. It will be a way to support his growing family as he raises our awareness of warmaking and our resolve to build a world BEYOND war.
Kathy Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), Board President of World BEYOND War, co-coordinates the November 2023 Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal
This message should be spread far and wide to the US citizens who are working for peace and justice. Thanks for the clear information. Blessings on your work.
How long is humanity going to continue to murder each other??? The never ending circle must be broken!!! Or we we will all perish!!!!
LOL Obviously you don’t understand what civilization is, it is a system for the mass control of individuals. Only civilized people are capable of genocide, it is a concept beyond the ken of primitive societies. As long as those in power want a war, there will be one and the multitudes will be compelled to participate. Civilization has it’s drawbacks.
We will also lose life on Earth as we know it due to a warming climate unless we reduce greenhouse gasses drastically. The US Military is the largest producer, by far, of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Closing all bases around the World is necessary.
I find the title on the map to be misleading. At a cursory glance, which is all that most people bother with when viewing news, it would almost appear that the dots on the map are Chinese bases not American ones. “Why has China.. ” sounds like more dog whistle anti-Asian hate speech to me. Is it supposed to be sarcasm? If it is, and I hope it is, its not working.
Last time I checked China has only one off shore military base and that is in Djibouti. Last time I checked China has lost only 4 soldiers on foreign soil, compared to the many thousands lost to and by the U.S. So the article is great but the title on the map is unclear at best and misleading to some people.
you are right!
The title is misleading!
Yes I agree with Gordon that this image was confusing and misleading. I guess it was meant as sarcasm, but that is unclear at first glance. I do agree that the whole world needs to stop wasting so much money on warmongering and Arms trading. Many of the worlds issues including the Climate Crisis could be solved with a fraction of the money currently being spent on warfare. Please check what your investments are going towards. That is one super easy thing we can all do: Make sure your money is ethically invested. If everyone does that then all companies will have to follow suit and invest ethically too.
It is time to end wars! Closing military bases is an essential part of bringing peace. The monet spent on maintaining these bases should be used to make peoples lives better.
The U.S. is a war monger. We spend the majority of our country’s budget to keep us “ready to roll” at a moments, and call it “saving democracy and people’s rights around the globe”. Why do we not spend equally at home when we’re in serious danger of losing OUR Democracy? A good portion of our citizens are easily swayed because our educational system is focused on historical semi-facts. If they aren’t TAUGHT the TRUTH, how can they believe it when they’re fed lies by too many elected officials? WE MUST STOP INSERTING OURSELVES INTO EVERY SKIRMISH AND SHUT DOWN BASES THAT ARE UNNECESSARY. MOST COUNTRIES THAT NEED HELP HELP WOULD WELCOME US.
David Swanson created the title accompanying the map. I’m sorry for any confusion created. I think it’s crucial to try and see the world as it appears to China. Peace News has a map which I find helpful: The World As It Appears to China https://peacenews.info/node/10129/how-world-appears-china
It shows one Chinese flag for the Chinese base in Djibouti and many US flags mapping US bases surrounding China, along with representation of nuclear weapons surrounding China.
This morning I read Chris Hedges’s article about the U.S. military disemboweling the U.S. – it’s on Antiwar.com
Thanks for your helpful criticism
I thoroughly agree with you, same goes for us in the UK, selling arms around the world then having a hissy fit when they are used. What do they think they are buying them for ornaments!? Also poking our noses into other peoples wars, the hypocrissy of our government boggles the mind!
“What is the cost of maintaining each base?” Good question. What is the answer? And what is the cost of maintaining the whole system of 800+ military bases abroad? I would like answers rather than unanswered questions
Many people are tired of paying for these bases, and more would be if they knew the true cost. Please tell them.
I agree that the big challenge is how to spread the message of peace far and wide. That is the only way to bring about results in the form of support for peace projects. It is essential that this project succeeds.