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The Empire- Baseworld, and Blackstar, updated.

by geezer in Paris Sat Sep 8th, 2007 at 05:30:23 AM EST

--- Conventional military power as the definitive source of American Empire's power is failing. Big time. Iraq is a flop. Not only because it was badly done, but because it was a bad idea.

   ---The real power of the Empire, for the last several decades, was in the ability of its consumers to devour the output of "stuff" produced around the world. As the Empire's consumers are impoverished, that power is fading.

   ---The entire economic strategy of the empire- neoliberal economics- is also failing. And I think they know it.

   ---The realities of global warming, and oil depletion are about to totally change the game, and in the coming game, due largely to its own blindness, the "Empire" is holding a rather poor hand.

The United States not only does not know how to deal with an economy based on conservation, the U.S. is passionately opposed to the very idea.

So what's left? What will the Empire do? And how will it affect Europe?

Those who think that the United States will fade away as an empire without a real struggle are dreaming. I wish I was wrong, but a half-century of effort, and an inconceivable amount of money dedicated to empire will not be just abandoned. The United States spends today more money on it's military than the rest of the world combined. To the contrary, we are likely to see- and suffer from- a lot of destruction as the great bloody animal thrashes about in its death throes.

What exactly is the empire?
 We speak glibly about it, but -from whence did it come, and what is it really composed of?

Monroe Doctrine?
Roosevelt Corollary? Yeah, but this is now.

A good statement of today's Empire as a national objective is found in NSC 68 and NSC 20/4. They're ponderous, pompous boring documents, but they are a pretty clear statement that the U.S.' objective was world domination --in 1950. They describe the strategic weapons to be used, both economic and military.
In that objective, the United States has been successful.
Chalmers Johnson is my preeminent authority here. If you are inclined to read about this, I've got some good links below. If not, just read my story.

Cold Warrior in a strange land


America's Empire of Bases, in Common Dreams.org is another good place to start.  


 His three good books are available from Amazon, the latest of which is Nemesis.

Here's a snippet or two of the "common dreams" piece:

This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.
Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.
Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts. One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales. On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.
At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases
It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories.
If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

Chalmers Johnson misses little, and we will revisit him later, with a more interesting and less number--laden piece. Read his books.

A question:
Just what exactly do 6,000 domestic bases have to do with "providing for the common defense"?

A true story

It was the winter campus of Ohio State University. The bare, bitter winter of 1962, and Werner Von Braun was giving a talk at the student union (renamed the "University Center, as the faculty's ability to defend intellectual integrity deteriorated).
How many remember Gen. Jack D. Ripper? A great character in a satirical movie called "Dr Strangelove" based on a real General- Secretary of the Air Force, in fact. Gen. Curtis LeMay.  Born and raised right there in Columbus, Ohio, patron Saint of the John Birch Society, and a cold warrior who wanted desperately to nuke somebody.

Von Braun was in the Right place.

The father of the V-2 rocket had a dream, and he didn't care a whole lot who made it come true. He was stumping the country rounding up young technocrats to support it.
His first choice as a way to get there had always been the Third Reich, but when his Nazi horse died, he needed another one, and the United States was an acceptable surrogate.  To all appearances, the US was enthusiastically willing to offer its facilities and to get on board the Von Braun express. But a dream so immense, so---Wagnerian-- would require a huge infrastructure and a huge -well, "SS" might be the best description.
The Von Braun dream was nothing less than what he called the "Pax Americana". A network of orbiting battle stations armed with all the best in nuclear toys. A small demonstration- toast some insignificant burg or offending military facility- and Voila! Pax Americana. In his talk, I remember his nod to nuclear non-proliferation was not the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, but the need to eliminate the option of possession of them by others. A "good" use of the needed demonstration would therefore be--Gosh, haven't I heard this before? Recently?
I am also certain, after a lifetime of aerospace involvement, that the same job can be done today without the need for an orbiting platform. If I am right, these systems will of necessity compose the heart of the empire's power, and, like all terror weapons, unless they are used, ---there is no terror, and no power.

That day, in 1962, in the heartland of the Empire, Von Braun got a standing ovation.


From the Premier source of information about military aviation in the world, here's their entire story:


Here's a fragment:

For 16 years, Aviation Week & Space Technology has investigated myriad sightings of a two-stage-to-orbit system that could place a small military spaceplane in orbit. Considerable evidence supports the existence of such a highly classified system, and top Pentagon officials have hinted that it's "out there," but iron-clad confirmation that meets AW&ST standards has remained elusive. Now facing the possibility that this innovative "Blackstar" system may have been shelved, we elected to share what we've learned about it with our readers, rather than let an intriguing technological breakthrough vanish into "black world" history, known to only a few insiders. U.S. intelligence agencies may have quietly mothballed a highly classified two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane system designed in the 1980s for reconnaissance, satellite-insertion and, possibly, weapons delivery. It could be a victim of shrinking federal budgets strained by war costs, or it may not have met performance or operational goals.
This two-vehicle "Blackstar" carrier/orbiter system may have been declared operational during the 1990s.
A large "mothership," closely resembling the U.S. Air Force's historic XB-70 supersonic bomber, carries the orbital component conformally under its fuselage, accelerating to supersonic speeds at high altitude before dropping the spaceplane. The orbiter's engines fire and boost the vehicle into space. If mission requirements dictate, the spaceplane can either reach low Earth orbit or remain suborbital.
However, many sightings of both an XB-70-like carrier and a spaceplane have been reported, primarily in the western U.S. Only once have they been seen together, though.

On Oct. 4, 1998, the carrier aircraft was spotted flying over Salt Lake City at about 2:35 p.m. local time. James Petty, the president of JP Rocket Engine Co., saw a small, highly swept-winged vehicle nestled under the belly of the XB-70-like aircraft. The vehicle appeared to be climbing slowly on a west-southwest heading. The sky was clear enough to see both vehicles' leading edges, which Petty described as a dark gray or black color.
For whatever reason, top military space commanders apparently have never been "briefed-in"--never told of the Blackstar system's existence--even though these are the "warfighters" who might need to employ a spaceplane in combat. Consequently, the most likely user is an intelligence agency. The National Reconnaissance Office may have played a role in the program, but former senior NRO officials have denied any knowledge of it.
One Pentagon official suggests that the Blackstar system was "owned" and operated by a team of aerospace contractors, ensuring government leaders' plausible deniability. When asked about the system, they could honestly say, "we don't have anything like that."
Aerospace industry contractors suggest that a top secret Blackstar system could explain why Pentagon leaders readily offered the Air Force's nascent unclassified spaceplane project, the briefly resurrected SR-71 program and the Army's anti-satellite program for elimination from budgets in the late 1990s. At the time, an industry official said, "if we're flying a spaceplane, it makes sense to kill these cover programs and stop wasting money on things we can already do."

This system has been shelved because the Empire has something better.

Are these dingbats dead -or perhaps sitting it out in the bug farm?

1990 or thereabouts, University of South Florida, graduate course in War and Conflict, Dr. Hansen (recently of the state department) presiding:

Hansen's example of games theory as an aide in policy decisionmaking:
Dr. Hansen:

Wait and see strategy:

"There is a finite probability that Red China will attack the US in the next ten years with nuclear weapons, and our best estimate is that the probability is about 10%. Estimated casualties would be about 100 million- 25 million on our side, and 75 million Chinese in our retaliatory strike.

Bomb now strategy:

We can eliminate China's capacity to deliver nuclear weapons with a nuclear surgical strike. Probability of success : 100%. Casualties would be perhaps 2 million Chinese.
So, .1 times 100 gives you 10 million probability deaths for the wait and see strategy, and 1 times 2 gives you two million probability deaths for the bomb now strategy."

And then Dr. Hansen, with tears in his eyes, said:
"There are some people in the state department who want to wait- who cannot see that for the good of humanity, we MUST bomb now."

It is hopefully revealing that "Dr. Probability Death" was no longer with State. Cooler heads apparently prevailed.  

On a more sobering note, George Soros, in "The age of fallibility", published in 2006, p. 155, on nuclear conflict:  "The situation is much more dangerous now than at any time in the Cold war, yet much less thought is given to it---"

Still-- Who was the influential Neocon who said that there was little point in having the biggest military in history if you never used it?

Will the Empire, in it's death throes, nuke somebody? Why or why not?
. No-cooler heads will again prevail 50%
. Yes- that's the only way that hegemony can be retained. 50%
. Global warming and peak oil will soon moot this whole discussion 0%
. No- a Democrat will not use the bomb for political reasons 0%
. Economic problems will trump all this soon. 0%

Votes: 2
Results | Other Polls
Hiya folks.
Ya say ya lost your job today?
Ya say its 4 A.M. and your kids aintt home from school yet?
Ya say your wife went out for a corned
beef sandwich last weekend - the corned beef sandwich came back but she didnt?
Ya say your furniture is out all over the sidewalk cause ya cant pay the rent and ya got chapped lips and paper cuts and your feets all
swollen up and blistered from pounding the pavement looking for work?
Is that whats troubling ya fellow?


Well lift your head up high and take a walk in the sun with dignity and stick-to-it-ness and ya show the world, ya show the world where to get off.
Youll never give up, never give up, never give up...that ship!

Hey there friend.
Ya say your radiators never worked all winter and now that its summer they started up again and ya cant turn them off?
Ya say your wife sent your light weight suits to the cleaners and that means youll have to wear your itchy tweeds this morning when they say itll hit 106 and ya gotta meet an important business man in an hour and your bridge just broke and ya pasted it together with bubble gum and ya hope it dont
fall apart while youre doing some fast talking to this man?
And - and your shoelace just busted and ya opened a big cut on your cheek trying to
even out your sideburns and your daughters going out with a convict and your wife just confessed she gave your last sixty dollars as a deposit on an air plane hanger?
Is that whats troubling ya, friend?


Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Sep 8th, 2007 at 03:35:32 PM EST
Thanks for your comment, LEP. Yes, I remember the old comic voice- great theatre.

But there is a time to laugh. My Poised Prauge Pig Post is such a giggle.

If your point is that I am Feeling sorry for myself in these diaries, then you missed MY point.I and my family are incredibly fortunate, like most of the posters on ET. We escaped from the Empire. We are HERE!!

I've been studying cities that work for 30 years, and the great miracle is how much there is to learn- and how little of what I've learned can be applied elsewhere.

It looks as if I need to rethink the diaries- and their usefulness.

Pierre bourdieu, an eminent French sociologist and social activist, talked about the same thing in his little book, "On Television". Great book-- talked about the media's reframing of the public dialog to reject all the hard, complex questions. George Soros talks about the failed nature of what he called a "Feel-Good society", and the fact that he has been unable to find a route past that roadblock.

So at least I'm in good company.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 03:56:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liked your photoblog idea. More later on that.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 03:57:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No I wasn't thinking you're feeling sorry for youself. I was thinking more along the lines of a cynical parody (hopeless on America in a sense) on the Old Philosopher, like:

  Yer say ya lost ya best friend in Irak.
  Ya country wants to drop a nucular bomb on Iran,
  Yer gonna lose yer house to forclosure next week,
  Don't have insuance to remove that cancer in yer colon,
      etc. etc.

  Well lift yer head up high; Hillory or Obama's commin in. etc.

I was too lazy too write it up but I figured not too many here are old enough to remember him.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 04:41:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, we can trace much of the American peoples' misery to the country spending all its treasure on the military empire, which I guess is how I related it to your diary.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 04:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been trying to do this for 20 years, and by now I question my objectivity every time I push that "submit" button.
I've written a lot on the subject you touch on, here and in more formal venues,- the expenditure of financial capital---and cultural capital-- on crap. But the response on these two diaries has been striking- in it's absence. Deja Vue.
Somehow there seem to be areas that just are off limits- I don't know why. I thought for a while it was the way I wrote it-- but my feedback on the actual writing is pretty encouraging.
My wife and I talked it over and I will post the last two pieces, --and bite the bullet.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 01:12:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, what can one say? It looks that if the U.S. doesn't change it system that it's going down the tubes. And that shitty system is too far evolved for many people to want to change it.
How can a country keep a thousand foreign bases around the world and not go under; they're not money makers. The only way would be to tax the rest of the world to support those bases and the military overhead of the U.S. And considering the low popularity of the U.S. that's not likely to happen. Everyone is starting to say "U.S. go home" but Uncle Sam is not listening.
All my income comes from the U.S., social security and other investments which cannot be brought over here. Any assets that I could bring here, are here. I also have two grown children in America. so I'm greatly affected by all this.
But, what's to say? Close 90% of all military basis and take care of the people? That would get a good laugh.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 01:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Missing poll option: yes, but it will still not help the US preserve its hegemony

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2007 at 01:20:59 PM EST

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