America’s seldom thought of, and largely misunderstood, military outposts around the globe are brought into sharp relief.
The idea that it costs more than $100 billion each year to maintain the United States’ roughly 800 military installations spread throughout the world is easy enough to grasp, and there are many who will say that the hefty price tag is well worth the cost. However, Vine (Anthropology/American Univ.; Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, 2009) effectively argues that the true costs of all those bases—whether euphemistically called FOBs, lily pads, or a host of other monikers—encompass a lot more than what is in Uncle Sam’s wallet. Ostensibly meant to protect American security at the close of World War II, Vine demonstrates how both the rationale behind the rise of U.S. military bases abroad and their implementation run counter to many closely held American ideals. Readers on the left will be particularly chagrined to learn that liberal lion Franklin Roosevelt orchestrated a plan that regurgitated and repackaged old-time colonialism in the name of national security. The author also illuminates the series of forced evacuations, expulsions, and evictions that devastated whole societies all across the Pacific, Latin America, and beyond, and he shows how little the government had learned after the Trail of Tears 100 years prior. Citizens could still wave the flag and extoll democratic principals here at home, but Vine further demonstrates how they did so oblivious to the autocrats that continued to fill the upper tiers of the American military. The powers that be may have successfully swept many previous sins under the carpet in the wake of World War II, but according to Vine, continuing to maintain U.S. military bases around the world doesn't make any sense in a post–9/11 world.
A frank, significant look at how the proliferation of foreign military bases has “helped lock us inside a permanently militarized society that in many ways has made all of us less safe and less secure.”