Why US needs military bases | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan


Why US needs military bases

THE political and intellectual communities of Pakistan are widely debating the issue, whether Pakistan should provide military bases to United States following its pull-out from Afghanistan.

The dominant opinion of all debates infer that US should not be given military bases on Pakistani soil, since Pakistan has a long history of sufferance owing to US military bases during cold war and later during the war on terror.

The political leadership has already denied any such proposal in the making; rather Foreign Minister categorically denied such a discourse on behalf of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

The military sources have also refused such an arrangement for the US after its forces leave war-torn Afghanistan. Indeed, the military leadership deeply comprehend the complexities of US military bases on Pakistani soil, hence refused the visiting CIA Director to entertain any such request.

Pakistani nation fully trust its military leadership for safeguarding the national interests of Pakistan.

Indeed, accommodating any foreign military base on Pakistani soil goes against the national interest of Pakistan. Such a provision will attract other power(s) and non-state actors to target Pakistan for attainment of their vested interests.

The available data reveals that, US is maintaining over 800 small and large military bases in over eighty countries all over the globe. The question arises why really US needs such a huge number of the military bases.

A straight forward answer to the question is ‘to maintain its global supremacy and power politics’.

Indeed, the military bases enable U.S to efficiently project its military power before its global hegemony is challenged by any other state(s).

US formally started establishing military bases in the areas of its influence following the world war-II which resulted into the advent of cold war between Washington and Moscow.

The end of cold war in early 1990s further encouraged the US to expand its power from three noticeable perspectives; enlargement of political influence all over the globe, control of global economic resources to its best advantage and expansion of military power through expeditionary warfare under the cover of Liberal Internationalism.

As witnessed, most of these interventions have been military in nature with a political and humanitarian flavour mixed into these.

US invasion in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 can best be interpreted under the Liberal Internationalism theory of international relations.

US is still pursuing such an approach and today having its influence all over the Middle East and most of African continent and an unchallenged global power.

It did not stop Russia while the later invaded Georgia in 2008, Ukraine-2014 and even annexation of Crimea. US badly failed in its military campaign against Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, it still wants to maintain its regional hegemony for the maintenance of its global supremacy. Indeed, US did not invade Afghanistan in 2001 to free the Afghan masses from tyranny of Taliban regime.

But, it had well planned strategic objectives to pursue for the continuation of its international supremacy.

Right from the conception of its invasion (including the pre-planned incident of 9/11) US had five major strategic objectives in the region.

These strategic objectives include; one, to have a check on the rising power of China. US visualized China as its peer competitor in the international politics, therefore needed excuses to down-grade it by all means.

Very recently, on June 9, 2021, US Senate passed a massive bipartisan bill to combat China’s growing economic influence. The Senate authorised $250bn for funding the technological advancement to counter rising power of China.

While being in Afghanistan or in its neighbourhood, US can conveniently engage China on multiple grounds; strategic, economic and political.

Two; US sees resurgent Russia as another threat to its global supremacy, indeed, President Putin is openly challenging the US and its global hegemony.

For quite some time, the Russian efforts for stabilization of Afghanistan involving Taliban and other regional actors were aimed at countering US presence in Afghanistan. The covert cold war is still on between Moscow and Washington.

Three: in view of Iranian enmity with Israel, U.S is keeping a very close eye on Iran and its nuclear Programme.

The bases in any neighbouring state of Afghanistan including Central Asia will enable US military to neutralize the Iran, particularly its nuclear programme.

Fourth: the most important strategic objective of the US is to neutralize Pak-China friendship, create economic and political crises, destabilize the state through promotion of militancy and create chaos in the country.

The nuclear programme of Pakistan and its professional military have been the prime targets of US since the decade of 1990.

The military bases within Pakistan or on its periphery will allow US to take-on all these targets through a gradual approach.

The current economic pressure through IMF, World Bank and some GCC states is corollary to this US strategy. Besides, the pressure through FATF is being used to force Pakistan to submit in front US and European Union.

Fifth: to have US influence in the Central Asian region with the aim to deny Russian and Chinese influence there. Indeed, US would always like to counter any effort by rising and resurgent powers.

US military bases in any of the Central Asian state would mean a lot for all regional states including China and Russia.

David Vine, a renowned American Professor emphatically highlighted the wide-wide American military bases in his illustrious book, “Base Nation: How US Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World”.

Indeed, “From Italy to the Indian Ocean, from Japan to Honduras, a far-reaching examination of the perils of American military bases overseas” has involved; financial, environmental, and human costs for entire humanity. Let there be an end to these US military bases starting from Afghanistan.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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