One Thousand Bases: Hidden Impacts of U.S. Military Presence Overseas

“There are many Americans who want to see this country as a moral entity, as a country that does good in the world, that supports human rights and democracy, and the US military presence overseas does none of those things.  They tend to erode the rule of law and democracy by shoring up local militaries and giving them a higher status.  Their environmental effects: the environment is assaulted by jet fuel in water supplies and in the air and soil.  There are a few local business people who will benefit, but, overall, the presence of a base is an economic negative for the community.  A lot of women I have spoken to around US bases overseas talk about how soldiers have a variety of attitudes toward them.  Some are kind, but many are not.  Mainly it’s the notion that to be able to purchase sex is seen as a sort of birthright and something that real men do.  Sometimes, women have been brought in from elsewhere, and the US military is tolerating it — or even in some historical periods has encouraged it — to service US soldiers and keep them away from local women” — Prof. Catherine Lutz, Brown University

“What are you teaching your boys?  You are teaching the soldiers to look at people of other nations and other cultures and other colors, to look at them, as non-humans.  And that prepares them for war.  We have to look at the concept of machismo as it is entwined with the temerity to kill and to destroy and to dominate.  Is it possible to have military bases overseas without military-generated prostitution?  It’s not a question I would ask myself.  The question I would ask myself is: is it possible to make military institutions irrelevant in this world?  I would opt for a clean sweep.  And I would tell you to go straight to the next question: how do we make militaries irrelevant?  That is the most important question, I think.” — Ninotchka Rosca, Human Rights Activist

For more information, visit <>.  See, also, The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts, ed. Catherine Lutz (New York University Press, 2009).  The text above is a partial transcript of the video.

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