Just Some Notes On Lily Pads and Military Bases by Gaither Stewart

by Gaither Stewart
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
4 October, 2010

US military presence in the world in 2007.

Image via Wikipedia

The lily pad fits in with its surroundings, as does the frog. Like most of nature its camouflage saves it. Human beings are the only creatures who do not fit in with the rest of nature. Nature is simple. But mankind rejects simple living. Now suppose a pond has one lily pad in the beginning. Then suppose it doubles each day, one lily pad turning into two each day. Soon the pond will be full of lily pads.

The American military jargon has adopted the lily pad to mean an outpost, an advance camp, a foreign base, or staging area, only one in a series of stops, a scaled down military facility with theoretically little permanent personnel, often used as a staging ground for Special Forces and Intelligence operations. Soldiers may then leapfrog from one lily pad to the next. The outpost aspect of the military lily pads however follows in the footsteps of the multiplying lily pads and especially giant water lily leaf: they not only multiply but also grow in size and tend to become permanent military bases encircling the world. Afghanistan is a giant lily pad, permanent, a place to move out from, a place from which soldiers go out to kill other people around that part of the world.

In US military thinking, the huge German, city-like bases for 100,000 troops are no longer necessary. Therefore America is “reconfiguring its footprint”—that is, reviewing deployment of troops globally in order to be capable of applying military force anywhere rather than to just sit in place. That is the lily pad concept, the analogy of frogs hopping around a growing number of foreign bases. Frogs-battle-ready troops. Saudi Arabia restrictions on the use of US bases there resulted in the construction of the Qatar lily pad. The air war against Serbia and the theft of its historic territory of Kosovo made possible the creation of the giant lily pad-state in the Balkans. Lily pads now dot Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and northwards to the Baltic states, across the Black Sea to Georgia, another lily pad-state in the making, to lily pad-state Iraq, and on to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, to a pier in Singapore. The circumference of the earth is the only limit today but the moon and Mars are not excluded from military Strangelove ambitions and dreams.

NOTE: By last count (and no one can be precise since the US also maintains secret bases and intelligence installations all over the world), we had 737 bases and more than 600,000 soldiers manning garrisons or involved in countless operations in more than 200 nations, spanning the globe from Iraq and Afghanistan to Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific. To this, we must add hundreds of thousands of “private contractors” (mercenaries) —their exact number is also a secret— serving the needs of the global American empire.  The only safe assumption is that the number of outposts and operations is growing.

Gaither Stewart, Featured Writer on Dandelion Salad, Senior Editor of Cyrano’s Journal Online and The Greanville Post and Special European Correspondent for both, is a novelist, reporter and essayist on historical and cultural topics. His observations, often controversial, are published on many venues across the web. He’s based in Rome. Stewart’s latest novel is The Trojan Spy, a thriller and morality tale in the tradition of John LeCarré.


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