When Chalmers Johnson, a retired Asian scholar and former Naval officer during the Korean War, visited Japan in the mid-1990s, he was surprised to discover 38 U.S. bases on Okinawa alone, half a century after U.S. forces captured the island in the last great battle of World War II. If Johnson, past president and founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute at the University of San Francisco and author of numerous scholarly books on Asian affairs, had been unaware of the enormity of America’s military involvement in far-off lands, it is hardly surprising that the public at large has been even less aware. The American people, he would later observe in The Sorrows of Empire, “do not realize that a vast network of American military bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire.”
Most reasonably informed Americans know our country has long had a large number of overseas bases, but we seldom think about how extensive that network is or what it costs — in lives, in dollars, and in the simmering resentment of people living in the shadow of a foreign military power.
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