Al Jazeera English posted a video brief on the ever-growing US military presence in the Middle East. Maybe it took too long for it to dawn on me, but after watching the video and in the context of a map of US military bases I posted on my blog a while ago (posted again below), I’ve realized that the US “military presence” in the Middle East cannot adequately be called a “military presence.” The US has grown to become a regional power, perhaps the region’s superpower, which is mind blowing considering the fact that the US is located oceans away!
I don’t know which is more discomforting, the fact that the US is a regional power in a region that is not its own, or that all this is taken as normal by most Americans. It’s a tough pill to swallow that people still deny the fact that the US is an empire. It might not be like empires of old, and no two empires are alike, but the US is without a doubt a 21st century empire.
If you’re interested in reading more about how the US is an empire, there’s an expanding literature that is devoted to making just that argument. I’ve posted some of these books in the “Recommended Reading” section of the site under “Imperial US.”
As for the Middle East, America’s footprint in the region really began to expand in the early post-WWII era, but it didn’t fully get underway, in my opinion, until Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait when the US led a campaign to “liberate” (or reinstall the Kuwaiti ruling family) Kuwait and really started to establish its “military presence” in the region. 9/11 and the “war on terror” put the US quest to become a Middle East regional power on hyperdrive.