In it, Feffer describes a recent Congressional hearing on currently-strained US-Japan relations – in which a Pentagon official was unable to come up with the number of US troops stationed in Japan (47,000), or to explain why the US needs more than 700 overseas bases worldwide. (I thought the number was just under 900, but who’s counting?) Feffer writes:
“The Pentagon official couldn’t satisfy either Rohrabacher’s anti-China tirade or Faleomavaega’s probing questions about the U.S. empire of bases. And that’s precisely the problem with the Obama administration’s Pacific policy. We are trying to maintain the exact same force posture as previous administrations but at the same time emphasizing our new commitment to multilateralism and our new status as a “global partner.” It’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger going from Terminator to Kindergarten Cop in the space of a year: Audiences above the age of seven are just not convinced.”
Obama, Feffer argues, is trying to run an empire with velvet gloves – an approach that will be fruitless for either building or dismantling it. We shall have to wait, he says, for “an insider who knows the system,” such as Andrew Bacevich, to “pull the plug” and offer real Pentagon reform.
I also really like the Swiftian ‘modest proposal’ that Feffer concludes with. What shall we do with all those US Marines in Futenma? Why, move them to Washington, DC!
“If the prospect of having U.S. Marines involved in promoting democracy, maintaining stability, and responding to humanitarian crises at home makes you squeamish,” he concludes, “you can begin to understand how the Okinawans might feel.”