The New World
Foreign Policy's article the Six Most Important U.S. Military Bases lists:
- Andersen Air Force Base & Apra Harbor, Guam;
- Balad Air Base/Camp Anaconda, Iraq;
- Bezmer Air Base, Bulgaria;
- Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory;
- Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba;
- Manas Air Base, Kirgizstan
as the most vital installations in the world. There may be disagreements about whether or not these should be the Top Six US bases worldwide, but the list serves to illustrate the geopolitical transformation that has taken place since 2000. Or more accurately, it reflects the current administration's perception of what the geopolitical map the early 21st century looks like. Not only does the list appear very different from one that could have been compiled in the late Clinton Administration era, it also provides an alternative explanation for the weakening of links to Western European allies that the Bush administration has often been blamed for. The newly important areas to the US are China, Southwest Asia and Central Asia. Western Europe, while still important, may no longer have the central position it once had.
This assessment of relative importance is debatable. It can be argued that Western Europe is in fact the most important theater in the War on Terror. Once the press stops talking about the Bush strategy in such simplistic and misleading terms as the mere outcome of ignorance, stupidity and neoconservative optimism or the result of such cartoonish notions as a search for markets for Halliburton it will be possible to focus on whether or not these new deployments, together with the strategy that it represents, is rational or not. This constant "talking down to the stupid" has really sabotaged intelligent debate, in part because one party is presumed to be without any intelligence whatsoever.
I've really been struck, nearly five years after September 11, by the nondebate over strategy and geopolitics, as exemplified by the Democratic Party's Real Security platform. Whether one agrees with them or not, it is a fact that there are many intelligent people in the Democratic Party, and it is hardly possible to believe the Real Security platform is anything but the political equivalent of a bye, written for the express purpose of saying absolutely nothing, at least as far as official positions goes. In the meantime people are left to speculate how it may take the form of views expressed by those "associated" with Democratic political figures. Let's put it this way: what would the Six Most Important US Bases be under a Democratic administration? Maybe exactly the same ones. If so, that's too risky to admit.