AuthorVine, David
PositionThe building of new American military bases overseas

When President Joe Biden entered office determined to "build back better," few would have thought that construction in Papua New Guinea would help define his legacy. An agreement the Biden Administration signed in June means the Southeast Asian country will soon host six new U.S. military bases.

While Biden's investments to slow the rapidly heating climate look relatively impressive compared with past Presidents, his administration has gone on a building spree overseas: Australia, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, Guam, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Palau, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, and Taiwan have seen a buildup of some combination of U.S. military bases, forces, and weaponry.

Biden has given new life to a long-outdated World War II-era strategy of deploying hundreds of U.S. military bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops outside the United States. Even more than his predecessors, the President has embraced this "forward strategy" in a flawed attempt to hold onto U.S. global dominance amid China's rapid rise.

Contrary to its name, the forward strategy is a backward one that's escalating dangerous military tensions and new cold wars with China and Russia, increasing the risk of a direct--potentially nuclear--war. The strategy is also harming people worldwide and wasting tens of billions of taxpayer dollars annually

Biden could choose another path. Rather than doubling down on post-9/11 endless war and endangering his domestic agenda and the planet, his administration could create a legacy overseas matching that at home. Rather than building up bases and troops, the President could be building up embassies and diplomats to advance diplomacy, end conflicts, and build global cooperation. He could be addressing humanity's existential threats, including climate change and nuclear weapons.

So why is the government adding six new bases in Papua New Guinea?

Bases in Papua New Guinea are the latest products of the forward strategy that has been a quasi-religious dogma of mainstream U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s. What's better understood as the "Empire of Bases" strategy--given how empires throughout history have used foreign bases to exert power--says the United States must encircle the globe with bases and troops to maintain national security.

Thanks to a near-unquestioned adherence to the Empire of Bases doctrine, the government...

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