|US Military Bases Worldwide|
Click to embiggenate
I've been mulling over the US Military's engagements in Viet Nam* and Afghanistan, been mulling it over for more than 50 years. I think I sort of understand what happened and why, and I understand why they were such unmitigated disasters, and I think the term 'unmitigated disasters' is entirely accurate. But what bothers me (other than the lack of justice being applied to some of the stupidest people on the planet, but we're not going down that rathole, at least not yet), what bothers me is I haven't seen any kind of plan on how it might have been handled better. A more aggressive approach to the war might have helped, but it might have just gotten us into a much bigger war. Whatever, all-out war might solve all our problems. Hah, that's a laugh. We might very well kill a billion people, turn a couple more continents into wastelands and unite us all under one global leadership where everyone gets up at dawn and they are so happy and glad to be living in a free society that they all spontaneously burst into song and sing the patriot hymn of the day.
Anyway, one idea I've been kicking around is to set up a compound in our target country, i.e. the country we want to bring out of the middle ages and into the present, and engage with the locals. Trade, a school, a Christian church, a post office. Problem is that in any third world country, you are susceptible** to attack, so you need to be able to defend yourself, which means you need a detachment of soldiers. And attack might not just come from local bandits with knives, it might include anything up to the government sending the army with rockets and tanks. So you need to be prepared to evacuate on a moment's notice or having enough might on hand to defend yourself.
Well, the US Military has only one way of doing anything: overdo it. You want us to protect that school? Well, we're going to need a jet capable runway, a fleet of F-16's, barracks for 200 men, 4 tanks, and a million gallons of petrol. And then we'll sit there, twiddling our thumbs for a buck and a half a day, for days, weeks or years until we go home or the bloody bastards show up on our doorstep screaming for blood. Then we earn our pay.
Sorry, got a little carried away there. So anyway, if the US is going to have any kind of an outpost in another country, we're going to have a military base to protect it. I hear a lot of noise about how the US has military bases all over the world and how it's costing all this money, but I suspect most all of these bases have some interaction with local population (okay, there are some places where there are no locals to speak of, like Diego Garcia). The question is, are these little outposts of civilization doing any good?
P.S. I have no idea how accurate the map is. Do we really have dozens of bases in the Caribbean?
* when did they start spelling Viet Nam Vietnam? I distinctly remember it being two words umpteen years ago. Who are these dilettantes that go around changing the spelling of words? Do you remember when the capital of China was Peking? Then they changed to Pei-Ping (maybe?) and now it's Beijing. I mean, WTF?
** apparently 'susceptible' can now also be spelled 'succestable'.