November 30, 2015
Offshore Everywhere: The Plan to End National Sovereignty as We Know It
Posted on Feb 5, 2012
By Tom Engelhardt
In those shadows, our secret forces are already melding into one another. A striking sign of this was the appointment as CIA director of a general who, in Iraq and Afghanistan, had relied heavily on special forces hunter-killer teams and night raiders, as well as drones, to do the job. Undoubtedly the most highly praised general of our American moment, Gen. David Petraeus has himself slipped into the shadows where he is presiding over covert civilian forces working ever more regularly in tandem with special operations teams and sharing drone assignments with the military.
And don’t forget the Navy, which couldn’t be more offshore to begin with. It already operates 11 aircraft carrier task forces (none of which are to be cut—thanks to a decision reportedly made by the president). These are, effectively, major American bases—massively armed small American towns—at sea. To these, the Navy is adding smaller “bases.” Right now, for instance, it’s retrofitting an old amphibious transport docking ship bound for the Persian Gulf either as a Navy Seal commando “mothership” or (depending on which Pentagon spokesperson you listen to) as a “lily pad” for counter-mine Sikorsky MH-53 helicopters and patrol craft. Whichever it may be, it will just be a stopgap until the Navy can build new “Afloat Forward Staging Bases” from scratch.
Futuristic weaponry now in the planning stages could add to the military’s border-crossing capabilities. Take the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon or DARPA’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, both of which are intended, someday, to hit targets anywhere on Earth with massive conventional explosives in less than an hour.
From lily pads to aircraft carriers, advanced drones to special operations teams, it’s offshore and into the shadows for U.S. military policy. While the United States is economically in decline, it remains the sole military superpower on the planet. No other country pours anywhere near as much money into its military and its national security establishment or is likely to do so in the foreseeable future. It’s clear enough that Washington is hoping to offset any economic decline with newly reconfigured military might. As in the old TV show, the U.S. has gun, will travel.
Square, Site wide
Onshore, American power in the twenty-first century proved a disaster. Offshore, with Washington in control of the global seas and skies, with its ability to kick down the world’s doors and strike just about anywhere without a by-your-leave or thank-you-ma’am, it hopes for better. As the early attempts to put this program into operation from Pakistan to Yemen have indicated, however, be careful what you wish for: it sometimes comes home to bite you.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), has just been published.
[Note: I couldn’t have written this piece without the superb reportage of TomDispatch Associate Editor Nick Turse on bases, drones, and special operations forces. I offer him a deep bow of thanks. Tom]
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Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt
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