Resolution of the Anti-imperialist Camp Assisi 2003
Against US overseas military basis
"The presence of American forces overseas is one of the most profound symbols of the US commitment to allies and friends. Through our willingness to use force in our own defence and in defence of others, the US demonstrates is resolve to maintain a balance of power that favours freedom. To contend with uncertainty and to meet the many security challenges we face, the US will require bases and stations within and beyond western Europe and northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for long-distance deployment of US forces." George W. Bush, National Security Strategy, September 20, 2001
"Maintaining an overseas military presence is a cornerstone of US National Security Strategy and a key element of US military policy. In Asia, US force presence plays a particular key role in promoting peace and security in regional affairs." US Security Strategy in Southeast Asia Region, 1998
The quotations above express the importance of military bases to US global designs. Stripped of the sugar-coating of altruistic and noble ideals (freedom, peace, regional stability, etc.), the value of overseas military bases in relation to expanding and consolidating US global hegemony is laid bare. From ancient times to the present, from Pax Romana to Pax Americana, foreign military bases have served as a springboard for military interventions and war of aggression, and as a foundation for dominating and ruling foreign lands and peoples.
The US began to set up military bases overseas when it became an imperialist power after the Spanish-American war at the turn of the 20th century. By mid-century, after two inter-imperialist world wars, the US emerged as the most powerful and prosperous imperialist country with its armed forces stationed in military bases all over the world. The cold war that followed in the second half of the century – the containment and engagement of the communist threat – became a convenient and widely accepted pretext for maintaining a robust US military presence overseas. The fall of the Soviet Union and eastern European regimes in the 90ies did not result in the downscaling of US military presence overseas. Instead, as the US-led Gulf war in 1991 and the Nato intervention in Kosovo in 199 showed, the US was bent on further expanding and consolidating its now unrivalled hegemony throughout the world, in the process beefing up its overseas military forces and building forward military bases in areas (notably eastern Europe and the Middle East) even as it appeared to be reducing and downgrading these in other areas (western Europe, southeast Asia).
Since Sept 11, the US has accelerated its drive to establish and tighten its hold on strategic areas such as eastern Europe, central Asia and western Asia (Middle East). The US is currently carrying out its design of setting up bases "beyond western Europe and northeast Asia" (QDRR September 2001, Bush 2002). For example, the shifting of western European forces and facilities to Hungary, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and those from Saudi Arabia and Turkey to Qatar and Iraq itself, and the establishment of bases and stationing of forces in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The establishment and maintenance of bases is complemented by access arrangements and "status of forces" agreements which, combined, give the US virtual basing rights. The terms of these bilateral agreements are mostly classified or secret, especially with countries where permanent bases could not be set up or have been dismantled due to strong local opposition.
Ever since the US became an imperialist power and established military bases overseas, these have become the object of protests.
Foremost among the protests are the violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity as the arrival of US forces invariably involved some form of military intervention including outright aggression, occupation and colonization. This is aggravated by the US policy and practice of shielding its troops from criminal persecution or jurisdiction under the host´s judicial system. A report from South Korea for example cites 100.000 criminal cases involving US soldiers over the past 50 years and an annual average of 400 cases of misdemeanours by US troops, but none convicted under Korean law.
Even in supposedly allied countries where the US bases are established as part of a security agreement or treaty, the hosts usually find themselves on the losing end as the intimidating military presence becomes a source of means of pressuring the host to act in accordance with the US economic and geopolitical interests.
In the 60s, in the face of the threat of nuclear annihilation, the dangers of toxic waste and radioactive fallout in a worsening global environment, the US military bases became a target of protest by anti-nuclear and non-proliferation and environmentalist movements.
Women´s organisations have also protested the presence of US military bases and troops overseas for the proliferation of prostitution and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, drug use and other related vices.
However, anti-bases protests have by and large been sporadic, intermittent and localized. They would at most flare up and momentarily attract international attention and concern, as in cases of criminal liability of US troops, or at the height of local anti-basis movements. But they would also invariably die down and the particular issues forgotten. The issues would also be focused on local concerns. They are not adequately seen in the context of US imperialism´s drive for global hegemony.
There is thus a need for an internationally coordinated and sustained campaign against US bases and other forms of US military presence overseas, one that will expand and raise anti-US bases and anti-war protests to the level of global anti-imperialist struggle.
We have to launch and carry a major campaign on both regional and international scope in accordance with our overall anti-imperialist struggle.
All the above issues will be the subject of the discussions in the international conference that will be held in Chania, Greece on 20-21-22 September 2003.
DHKP-C, Revolutionary People´s Liberation Party – Front, Turkey
BAYAN International, Philippines
National Movement – Union of Independent Forces, Venezuela
Initiativ, Duisburg, Germany
Left Front, Hungary
Iraqi Patriotic Coalition
APC, Arab Palestine Club, Vienna, Austria
KKE/ML, Communist Party of Greece / Marxist-Leninist
ILC, International Leninist Current
RKL-T, Revolutionary Communist League – Thuringia, Germany
Loyalty to Men and Earth, Lebanon
ACTUS, Action for Unity and Socialism, Chad
RCG, Revolutionary Communist Group, Britain
Harsh Thakor, Indian democratic rights activist