United States exceptionalism has created a preternaturally excessive number of military installments, deployments, and bases around the world. In point of fact, as David Vine described for the Nation in September 2015:
“While there are no freestanding foreign bases permanently located in the United States, there are now around 800 US bases in foreign countries. Seventy years after World War II and 62 years after the Korean War, there are still 174 US ‘base sites’ in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea, according to the Pentagon. Hundreds more dot the planet in around 80 countries, including Aruba and Australia, Bahrain and Bulgaria, Colombia, Kenya, and Qatar, among many other places. Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has bases in more foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.”
It’s commonly accepted that, in terms of economic and political policy, as Germany goes so goes Europe — and as the United States goes, so goes Germany. Essentially, European nations’ historical fealty to whims of the U.S. has created a juggernaut of obligatory policies with other countries, whether or not such dealings ultimately prove to be in Europe’s best interests. According to a U.S. Department of Defense report dated June 2015, over 80,000 troops were stationed in various locations in Europe — including 44,660 in Germany, alone — and those numbers will be bolstered by 3,000 to 5,000 in 2017, “to help countries harden themselves against Russian influence,” as Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter stated in February.
But as Professor Noam Chomsky explained in an exclusive interview with AcTVism Munich, as the American empire gasps its last breaths, that tide appears to be turning — and Europe, with Germany unofficially stationed at the helm, stands before an open window to escape overbearing U.S. influence.
“If you go back to the early 50s,” Chomsky explained, “there was always concern that Europe might move in a direction independent of U.S. power. It might become what was called at the time a ‘third force’ in international affairs. The dominant force was the United States, the second force was the junior superpower … the Soviet Union, and there was concern that Europe was, of course, a rich, developed, advanced area that might just move in an independent direction […] In fact, one of the functions of NATO, as is generally understood, was to ensure that Europe would remain under the U.S. aegis, but not move towards an independent direction.”
One current example of the friction between European countries’ continued capitulation to U.S. interests concerns the vast disparity in perceptions over the Iran nuclear deal, Chomsky noted. While enthusiastic “European ministers of government [and] corporation executives are flocking to Tehran to try to set up deals and arrangements,” Republican presidential candidates, including presumptive nominee Donald Trump, have said they would not follow through on the deal.
U.S. dominance over policy has even influenced Europe’s response to the controversy over Edward Snowden. As Chomsky explained, a plane transporting Bolivian president Evo Morales was denied passage through European airspace en route to Bolivia — despite the aircraft’s diplomatic immunity — during the time period when Snowden’s whereabouts remained unknown to the U.S. This unprecedented shirking of diplomatic immunity occurred at the behest of the U.S. government, though the plane eventually landed in Austria where it was raided by police — just to find out if the rogue whistleblower happened to be aboard.
“All of this is kind of pitiful,” Chomsky said. “It’s a revelation of real cowardice in the face of power that the European elites are unwilling to confront — a sign of subordination and a real lack of dignity and integrity, in my view […]
“There are, I think, by now four Latin American countries that offer asylum to Snowden - not one European country. In fact, they won’t even let him cross their borders. Why? Because the master in Washington tells them, ‘we don’t want him to.’ And Snowden, it’s important to recall, performed an enormous service, a patriotic service in fact, to the people of the United States and the world.”
Snowden revealed to the planet the nefarious extent of the U.S. surveillance state — and its true reach both domestically and around the world.
“That’s what he should have done,” added Chomsky. “That’s the responsibility of a decent citizen.”