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We open up with a question of where is America? Status

quo scholarship has constructed America as a postcolonial and post imperial power this glosses over
inherent militarism and exceptionalism inherent within
the American empire we must start our discussion with
the seas
Oldenziel, PhD. in American History, 2011
[Ruth, Islands: The United States as a Networked Empire, edited by
Gabrielle Hecht, page 13-14, Jacob]
The character of American power has been widely discussed. The historian
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., articulating the Cold War consensus, once argued that
the United States, though richly equipped with imperial paraphernalia [such
as] troops, ships, planes, bases, proconsuls, local collaborators, all spread
around the luckless planet, should be understood as an informal empire,
not colonial in polity.2 That argument became a dominant narrative frame
during the Cold War as the US faced ideological competition from the USSR.3
Since then, others have refined the idea to claim the US is a reluctant empire,
an empire by invitation, or the worlds indispensable nation.4 All of these
arguments turn on the notion that the US wields a strikingly different kind of
power because it lacks overseas possessions. 14 Oldenziel
Indeed the US does not occupy vast tracts of land outside the American
continent like the Roman, British, and Russian empires of yore. But the US
does rule over extensivebut to its citizens, invisibleisland possessions.5
These US territories include thousands of islands in the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Johnston Atoll, Navassa Island,
Micronesia, Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas,
Palau, and the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Most of
these possessions have been in US hands for more than a century. These US
territories are the largest of the post-colonial era, exceeding the combined
population of the overseas territories of Britain and France. The residents of
these islands are second-class citizens lacking the full protection of the law as
well as federal voting rights and representation in the US House, Senate, and
Electoral College. In their political limbo, garment workers in the Northern
Marianas sew Made in America labels for American clothing companies
such as The Gap, Wal-Mart, Liz Claiborne, and Calvin Klein while receiving 60
percent of the US minimum wage. Puerto Ricans are subject to the death
penalty under US federal law, even though their commonwealth law forbids
it. Islanders may serve in the US military yet compete in the Olympic Games
and beauty pageants as nationals from countries distinct from the US.6 The
islands and their residents belong to, but are not part of, the United States.

Americas territories are modest in size, their 4,000 square miles barely larger
than the state of Connecticut. But the small size of islands like the Azores and
Marianas masks their political, economic, legal, and technical weight. The
islands in US domain have been critical nodes in multiple global networks.
Home to capital-intensive, low-labor-intensive technologies, islands have
helped to nurture Americas self-image as a post-colonial, post-imperial
power in the era of decolonization and globalization. They also have bridged
exceptionalist American history and European colonial history.
This essay casts the United States islands possessions as a narrative anchor
in an alternative cartography of Cold War paradigms by looking at the
configurations of large global systems. Skirting along the edges of empire, it
seeks to understand the function of islands during a time when both the US
and the USSR disavowed territorial expansion as a matter of ideological
principle. By looking through the lens of technology, this essay offers an
alternative view to the characterization of the US as an informal,
deterritorialized global power. It thus anchors the Cold War in the
technopolitical geographies of islands to understand how archipelagic areas
like the Portuguese Azores have become the central nodes of US global

All current United States exploration and development of

the ocean is utilized to militarize and govern the waters
Deloughrey, Associate Professor @ UCLA, 2010
[Elizabeth, Heavy Waters: Waste and Atlantic Modernity, theories and
methodologies, 125:3 , page 705 706, Jacob]
In assessing the new direction of an Atlantic studies research matrix,
William Boelhower explains that the sea leaves no traces, and has no place
names, towns or dwelling places; it cannot be possessed; it requires specific
languages to be understood; and, above all, it has been traditionally
considered the space of freedom par excellence (92). As Ive argued in
Routes and Roots, the rise of the nineteenth-century American maritime
novel coincided with a naturalizing discourse of fluid, transoceanic routes
precisely when the United States became a global naval power. Similarly, our
current efforts to explore the fluid, transnational networks of the sea are
constituted by an unprecedented era of global ocean governance and
militarization. Turning to the production of the heavy waters of ocean waste
as a by--product of state surveillance allows us to see that the sea does not
merely facilitate modernity but is constituted by it. After the militarization of
the oceans in World War II, the United States president, Harry Truman,
violated the freedom--of--the-seas doctrine by extending the littoral state to
two hundred miles out to sea and then annexed Micronesia, an area as large
as the North Atlantic. All told, this new ocean territorialism tripled the size of
the United States (Natl. Research Council 1) and generated a global

scramble for the oceans (Pardo ii). In 1982 the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea catalyzed the most radical remapping of the globe in
modern history, expanding all coastal nations through an Exclusive Economic
Zone of two hundred nautical miles. Roughly thirty--eight million square
nautical miles of the global sea were enclosed by the state, a privatization of
thirty--five percent of the worlds ocean (Van Dyke, Zaelke, and Hewison;
Pardo [fig. 1]).
State privatization of the seas is nearly synonymous with militarization. This
new territorialism reflects not just control over the ocean surface but also
submarine and air space claims that protect the passage of nuclear
submarines, sea--launched missiles, and maritime surveillance systems
undergirded by thirty thousand miles of submarine cables (Wang, Military
Uses). While the high seas are legally designated a global commons, the
United States has effectively monopolized them through missile test warning
zones that restrict free passage (Van Dyke). So while the new Atlantic
studies might claim that the sea cannot be possessed, since the end of World
War II the number of military vessels at sea has doubled; by the 1980s over a
thousand nuclear--powered vessels patrolled the worlds oceans (Davis and
Van Dyke 467).
To understand the extent to which the ocean signifies modernity, we might
turn to the close relations between surveillance, militarization, and waste.
The militarization of the sea has made it into a basin for waste. Hundreds of
thousands of barrels of radioactive materials have been dumped in the
ocean, particularly in the northeastern Atlantic (Bewers and Garrett 106). By
the time the 1993 London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution
by Dumping was ratified, there were forty-seven radioactive waste sites in
the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, spaces of metallic modernity with
large amounts of tritium, plutonium, and uranium . The London Convention
ceased legal ocean dumping, but current nuclear waste buildup has renewed
a call to resume the practice (Davis and Van Dyke 467). In fact, radioactive
waste dumping in Somali waters, documented by the United Nations
Environment Programme, spurred the recent actions by Somali pirates
against transnational shipping (Abdullahi).

This militarization is a direct result of Mahanian logic that

dictates the ocean spaces to be used solely to project US
Connery, associate professor of literature, 1 (Christopher L.,
codirector of the Center for Cultural Studies, and chair of the East Asian
Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Ideologies of
Land and Sea: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Carl Schmitt, and the Shaping of Global
Myth Elements,,7-9-14, Tang)

Alfred Mahans work The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 16601783
stands as the central articulation of the geopolitical centrality of the ocean, of
the identification of a strong navy with a strong state, and of the particular
character of the U.S. empire. First published in 1890, it quickly became one of
the most widely translated and circulated books of the century. Within a few
years, it was translated into three Asian languages, as well as most Eastern,
Central, and Western European languages. One of Mahans most enthusiastic
readers was Theodore Roosevelt, whose own earliest fame was in 1890 as a
naval historian and advocate, on the strength of his widely reviewed and
best-selling volume The Naval War of 1812. Roosevelt wrote The Naval War of
1812 during his student years at Harvard and the Columbia University Law
School, and published it in 1882.24 Roosevelts book paved the way for the
immense popularity of Mahans. The global character of Mahans book
prefigures the new global navalism itself: A navy became, for new nations,
the visible symbol of modernization. The essence of Mahanism becomes
material in the world voyage of what came to be known as the Great White
Fleet of 19071909, intended by President Roosevelt as a material display of
American naval power. When the fleet arrived in Valparaiso, Chile, spectators
lined the hills by the thousands.25 This was the originary moment of the
projection of U.S. military might through spectacle, world domination through
visible presence. We are still living in the Mahanian period.
Mahan is centrally responsible for the U.S. posture of constant military
preparedness and the posture of imminent global war, which has
characterized so much of our century. Given that he was, without a doubt,
one of the central theorists of the U.S. empire, the paucity of scholarship on
his work is surprising.26 Mahans elementalist vision had reached a
concentration [End Page 183] that would not be echoed until the work of
Schmitt in the twentieth century. He configured the oceanic into a primary
spatial entity, a Grotian whole, one with more strategic substance than the
land itself. Prefiguring Kennan, Mahan also turned away from landedness and
continentality. The message throughout The Influence of Sea Power upon
History, reiterated in its follow-up volume, The Influence of Sea Power upon
the French Revolution and Empire, 17931812, is that America had two
models for its world posture, France and England, and that time and again
France had squandered the opportunities for naval supremacy provided by its
wealth. The overriding image in the second volume in the series is of
Napoleons Grand Army ranging over the European continent with impotent
bravado, unaware that the navy of Great Britain, unchallenged on the open
sea, controlled the world. Napoleons boast that he would conquer
Pondicherry on the banks of the Vistula is one that Mahan mocks: The
emperors failure to recognize that Pondicherry was available only to the
oceanic hegemon was a sign of his failure to see the world as it actually was.
Amid all the pomp and circumstance of the war which for ten years to come
desolated the Continent, amid all the tramping to and fro over Europe of the
French armies and their auxiliary legions, there went on unceasingly that
noiseless pressure upon the vitals of France, that compulsion, whose silence,

when once noted, becomes to the observer the most striking and awful mark
of the working of Sea Power.27 To ensure that the United States would not
repeat Frances failure of vision, Mahan sounded the warning to his fellow
How changed the present condition is, all know. The center of power is no
longer on the seaboard. Books and newspapers vie with one another in
describing the wonderful growth, and the still undeveloped riches, of the
interior. Capital there finds its best investments, labor its largest
opportunities. The frontiers are neglected and politically weak; the Gulf and
Pacific coasts actually so, the Atlantic coast relatively to the central
Mississippi Valley. When the day comes that shipping again pays, when the
three sea frontiers find that they are not only militarily weak, but poorer for
lack of national shipping, their united efforts may avail to lay again the
foundations of our sea power. Till then, those who follow the limitations which
lack of sea power [End Page 184] placed upon the career of France may
mourn that their own country is being led, by a like redundancy of home
wealth, into the same neglect of that great instrument.28
Mahans naval strategic vision centers on command of the ocean: He
relentlessly underscores his conception of the ocean as definite space, and as
space to be mastered. This had not been the overt strategic dominant before
Mahan, and it was not a structural necessity in Grotian space. The
fundamental stated objective of naval strategy until Mahans time had been
commerce destruction, and this goal drove naval procurement strategy
throughout most of the nineteenth century in Britain and the United States. It
was through the efforts of Mahan, Roosevelt, and some like-minded allies that
the orientation was changed to the battleship navy. But the battleship navy
was itself predicated on the new oceanic vision, which emphasized total
control of the maritime element. Commerce destruction was, Mahan
reiterated, ancillary to naval domination and strategically ineffective without
an effective mastery of the whole of oceanic space . This mastery, though not
always Britains stated objective, was central to British naval strategy and
ignored by France.
Throughout his work, Mahan reserved his highest praise for those admirals
and captains whose tactics aimed for the mastery of the oceanic element
tout court. A battleship commands its own space, and the real element for
battleship warfare is not the port or the blockade but the open sea. This
imperative to command the element is doubtless what attracted Mahan to
the French admiral Pierre Andr de Suffren de Saint-Tropez, or Admiral
Satan, as he was commonly known. In the 17781782 sea war between
England and France, Mahans favorite war, since it was so completely
oceanic, Suffren distinguished himself by his willingness to take the offensive
and to engage the enemy on the open sea, rather than in and around
harbors. Mahan insisted on offensive naval strategy, and he saw no logic in a
purely defensive posture.29 Mahans greatest hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson,
had a similar breadth of vision with regard to elemental command.

Mahanism was a program for an emergent U.S. hegemony and [End Page
185] a geopolitical analysis of the achievement of British hegemony. It was, of
course, a mercantilist vision: A nation becomes wealthy and powerful through
trade, and this trade was, of necessity, oceanic. The power that controlled the
ocean would thus be the dominant world power. This control was not
dependent on overseas colonies. Coaling stations were more important than
colonies for the maintenance of the world navy. Nor was trade dominance
dependent on control of carriage, as it had been in British naval strategy
during most of the Grotian ocean regime. In his early writings, Mahan had
stressed the importance of the development of a U.S. merchant fleet, but by
the end of the 1890s, he acknowledged a changed situation: The trade was
more important than the carriage, and naval power was exercised by the
navy, not the merchant fleet. Naval policy, then, should be predicated on the
capacity to project force, and that projection should be into what Mahan often
referred to as the new Great Common, crisscrossed, as was land, by dense
tracks of human activity: The first and most obvious light in which the sea
presents itself from the political and social point of view is that of a great
highway; or better, perhaps, of a wide common, over which men may pass in
all directions, but on which some well-worn paths show that controlling
reasons have led them to choose certain lines of travel rather than others.
These lines of travel are called trade routes; and the reasons which have
determined them are to be sought in the history of the world.30 Mahans
notion of sea-lanes, and the importance of their control, influenced U.S.
strategy in Asia and the Pacific through the cold war, long after long-range
nuclear weapons had made such strategic considerations totally irrelevant.
The strength of Mahans terrestrial-oceanic hybrid vision, his notion of an
ocean crisscrossed by figurative highways and bridges, a Great Common
requiring the commanding presence of a dominant power, has ensured his
continued influence on U.S. Pacific strategy.
The geo-imaginary is powerful. It has given us such ideas as Europe, the
West, Asia, the free world. Mahan, when his ideas were dominant, resembled
many shapers of the geo-imaginary: overconvinced, perhaps, of the globes
conceptual malleability. Throughout the 1890s, he advocated a new and
closer union between Britain and the United States, and the terms of this
advocacy are interesting.31 White racialist Anglo-Saxonism, popular [End
Page 186] in the 1890s, was, of course, a central component of this union.
But its spatial character, while not systematic, is also revealing: Mechanized
ocean transport has resulted in a shrinking of the world, with the
consequence that Britain itself is too small. The United States needs to
become the new Britain and function as the worlds new island nation.
Britains island character, in Europe but not of it and thus de-continentalized,
had been a significant part of its own geomythology, and Mahans turn to the
island and away from the continent is a sign not only of his Anglocentrism but
of his conviction of the underlying inconsequentiality of the terrestrial. The
nation should be an island. Here we have William Henry Sewards notion of

the United States as transitional geographic spacebetween Europe and Asia

rewritten as central island in the world ocean.
Global hegemony does not, of course, flow from a conceptual mastery of the
elements. In both Britain and the United States, the military power from
which that hegemony flowed owed more to the nature of finance capital and
the fiscal and political strength of the state. But Mahan understood the
geopolitical language required to channel that strength, and his vision has
shaped not only U.S. military policy but also the dominant understanding of
the historical forces that account for the rise of U.S. global power.

That cumulates in endless global warfare

Engelhardt 13 (Tom, Fellow at the Nation Institute, Overwrought empire:
The discrediting of US military power,
And here's the odd thing: in a sense, little has changed since then and yet everything seems different.

the American imperial paradox: everywhere there are now

"threats" against our well-being which seem to demand action and yet nowhere are
Think of it as

there commensurate enemies to go with them. Everywhere the US military still reigns supreme by almost
any measure you might care to apply; and yet - in case the paradox has escaped you -


can it achieve its goals, however modest. At one level, the American situation
Never before in modern history had there been an arms
race of only one or a great power confrontation of only one . And at least in military terms,
should simply take your breath away.

just as the neoconservatives imagined in those early years of the 21st century, the US remains the "sole

the more
dominant the US military becomes in its ability to destroy and the more its
forces are spread across the globe, the more the defeats and semi-defeats pile
up, the more the missteps and mistakes grow, the more the strains show, the
superpower" or even "hyperpower" of planet Earth. The planet's top gun And yet

more the suicides rise, the more the nation's treasure disappears down a black hole - and in response to all
of this, the more moves the Pentagon makes. A great power without a significant enemy? You might have
to go back to the Roman Empire at its height or some Chinese dynasty in full flower to find anything like it.

bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is reportedly a shadow of its former

self. The great regional threats of the moment, North Korea and Iran, are regimes held
together by baling wire and the suffering of their populaces. The only incipient great power rival
on the planet, China, has just launched its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian
throwaway from the 1990s on whose deck the country has no planes capable of landing. The US has
And yet Osama

1,000 or more bases around the world; other countries, a handful. The US spends as much on its military
as the next 14 powers (mostly allies) combined. In fact, it's investing an estimated $1.45 trillion to produce
and operate a single future aircraft, the F-35 - more than any country, the US included, now spends on its
national defence annually. The US military is singular in other ways, too. It alone has divided the globe the complete world - into six "commands". With (lest anything be left out) an added command, Stratcom,
for the heavens and another, recently established, for the only space not previously occupied, cyberspace,
where we're already unofficially "at war". No other country on the planet thinks of itself in faintly
comparable military terms. When its high command plans for its future "needs," thanks to Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, they repair (don't say "retreat") to a military base south of
the capital where they argue out their future and war-game various possible crises while striding across a
map of the world larger than a basketball court. What other military would come up with such a method?
The president now has at his command not one, but two private armies. The first is the CIA, which in recent

years has been heavily militarised, is overseen by a former four-star general (who calls the job "living the
dream"), and is running its own private assassination campaigns and drone air wars throughout the
Greater Middle East. The second is an expanding elite, the Joint Special Operations Command, cocooned
inside the US military, members of whom are now deployed to hot spots around the globe. The US Navy,
with its 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carrier task forces, is dominant on the global waves in a way that only
the British Navy might once have been; and the US Air Force controls the global skies in much of the world
in a totally uncontested fashion. (Despite numerous wars and conflicts, the last American plane possibly
downed in aerial combat was in the first Gulf War in 1991.) Across much of the global south, there is no
sovereign space Washington's drones can't penetrate to kill those judged by the White House to be
threats. In sum, the US is now the sole planetary Top Gun in a way that empire-builders once undoubtedly
fantasised about, but that none from Genghis Khan on have ever achieved: alone and essentially
uncontested on the planet. In fact, by every measure (except success), the likes of it has never been seen.
Blindsided by predictably unintended consequences By all the usual measuring sticks, the US should be
supreme in a historically unprecedented way. And yet it couldn't be more obvious that it's not, that

despite all the bases, elite forces, private armies, drones, aircraft carriers, wars, conflicts,
strikes, interventions, and clandestine operations, despite a labyrinthine
intelligence bureaucracy that never seems to stop growing and into which we pour a minimum of
$80bn a year,

nothing seems to work out

in an imperially satisfying way. It couldn't be

this is not a glorious dream, but some kind of ever-expanding imperial

nightmare. This should, of course, have been self-evident since at least early 2004, less than a year
more obvious that

after the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq, when the roadside bombs started to explode and
the suicide bombings to mount, while the comparisons of the US to Rome and of a prospective Pax
Americana in the Greater Middle East to the Pax Romana vanished like a morning mist on a blazing day.
Still, the wars against relatively small, ill-armed sets of insurgents dragged toward their dismally
predictable ends. (It says the world that, after almost 11 years of war, the 2,000th US military death in
Afghanistan occurred at the hands of an Afghan "ally" in an "insider attack".) In those years, Washington
continued to be regularly blindsided by the unintended consequences of its military moves. Surprises none pleasant - became the order of the day and victories proved vanishingly rare. One thing seems

a superpower military with unparalleled capabilities for one-way destruction no

longer has the more basic ability to impose its will anywhere on the planet.
Quite the opposite, US military power has been remarkably discredited globally by

the most pitiful of forces. From Pakistan to Honduras, just about anywhere it goes in the old colonial or
neocolonial world, in those regions known in the contested Cold War era as the Third World, resistance of
one unexpected sort or another arises and failure ensues in some often long-drawn-out and spectacular
fashion. Given the lack of enemies - a few thousand jihadis, a small set of minority insurgencies, a couple
of feeble regional powers - why this is so, what exactly the force is that prevents Washington's success,
remains mysterious. Certainly, it's in some way related to the more than half-century of decolonisation
movements, rebellions and insurgencies that were a feature of the previous century. It also has something
to do with the way economic heft has spread beyond the US, Europe and Japan - with the rise of the
"tigers" in Asia, the explosion of the Chinese and Indian economies, the advances of Brazil and Turkey, and
the movement of the planet toward some kind of genuine economic multi-polarity. It may also have
something to do with the end of the Cold War, which put an end as well to several centuries of imperial or
great power competition and left the sole "victor", it now seems clear, heading toward the exits wreathed
in self-congratulation. Explain it as you will, it's as if the planet itself, or humanity, had somehow been
inoculated against the imposition of imperial power, as if it now rejected it whenever and wherever
applied. In the previous century, it took a half-nation, North Korea, backed by Russian supplies and Chinese
troops to fight the US to a draw, or a popular insurgent movement backed by a local power, North Vietnam,
backed in turn by the Soviet Union and China to defeat American power. Now, small-scale minority
insurgencies, largely using roadside bombs and suicide bombers, are fighting American power to a draw
(or worse) with no great power behind them at all. Think of the growing force that resists such military
might as the equivalent of the "dark matter" in the universe. The evidence is in. We now know (or should
know) that it's there, even if we can't see it. Washington's wars on autopilot After the last decade of
military failures, stand-offs and frustrations, you might think that this would be apparent in Washington.
After all, the US is now visibly an overextended empire, its sway waning from the Greater Middle East to
Latin America, the limits of its power increasingly evident. And yet, here's the curious thing: two
administrations in Washington have drawn none of the obvious conclusions and no matter how the
presidential election turns out, it's already clear that, in this regard, nothing will change. Even as military

our policymakers have come to rely ever

on a military-first response to global problems. In other words,

power has proven itself a bust again and again,

more completely

we are

not just a classically overextended empire, but also an overwrought one

operating on


kind of militarised autopilot. Lacking is a learning curve. By all evidence, it's not just that
there isn't one, but that there can't be one. Washington, it seems, now has only one mode of thought and

no matter who is at the helm or what the problem may be, and it always
involves, directly or indirectly, openly or clandestinely, the application of militarised

force. Nor does it matter that each further application only destabilises some region yet more or
undermines further what once were known as "American interests". Take Libya, as an example. It briefly
seemed to count as a rare American military success story: a decisive intervention in support of a rebellion
against a brutal dictator - so brutal, in fact, that the CIA previously shipped "terrorist suspects", Islamic
rebels fighting against the Gaddafi regime, there for torture. No US casualties resulted, while American and
NATO air strikes were decisive in bringing a set of ill-armed, ill-organised rebels to power. In the world of
unintended consequences, however, the fall of Gaddafi sent Tuareg mercenaries from his militias, armed
with high-end weaponry, across the border into Mali. There, when the dust settled, the whole northern part
of the country had come unhinged and fallen under the sway of Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda wannabes
as other parts of North Africa threatened to destabilise. At the same time, of course, the first American
casualties of the intervention occurred when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
died in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a local "safe house". With matters worsening regionally,
the response couldn't have been more predictable. As Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock of the Washington
Post recently reported, in ongoing secret meetings, the White House is planning for military operations
against al-Qaeda-in-the-Magreb (North Africa), now armed with weaponry pillaged from Gaddafi's
stockpiles. These plans evidently include the approach used in Yemen (US special forces on the ground and
CIA drone strikes), or a Somalia "formula" (drone strikes, special forces operations, CIA operations and the
support of African proxy armies), or even at some point "the possibility of direct US intervention". In
addition, Eric Schmitt and David Kilpatrick of the New York Times reportthat the Obama administration is
"preparing retaliation" against those it believes killed the US ambassador, possibly including "drone strikes,
special operations raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden and joint missions with Libyan
authorities". The near certainty that, like the previous intervention, this next set of military actions will only
further destabilise the region with yet more unpleasant surprises and unintended consequences hardly
seems to matter. Nor does the fact that, in crude form, the results of such acts are known to us ahead of
time have an effect on the unstoppable urge to plan and order them. Such situations are increasingly
legion across the Greater Middle East and elsewhere. Take one other tiny example: Iraq, from which, after
almost a decade-long military disaster, the "last" US units essentially fled in the middle of the night as
2011 ended. Even in those last moments, the Obama administration and the Pentagon were still trying to
keep significant numbers of US troops there (and, in fact, did manage to leave behind possibly several
hundred as trainers of elite Iraqi units). Meanwhile, Iraq has been supportive of the embattled Syrian
regime and drawn ever closer to Iran, even as its own sectarian strife has ratcheted upward. Having
watched this unsettling fallout from its last round in the country, according to the New York Times, the US
is now negotiating an agreement "that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq
on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army
Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with
intelligence". Don't you just want to speak to those negotiators the way you might to a child: No, don't do
that! The urge to return to the scene of their previous disaster, however, seems unstaunchable. You could
offer various explanations for why our policymakers, military and civilian, continue in such a repetitive -

- self-destructive vein in situations where

unpleasant surprises are essentially guaranteed and lack of success a
and even from an imperial point of view

given. Yes, there is the military-industrial complex to be fed. Yes, we are interested in the control of
it's probably more reasonable to say that a
deeply militarised mindset and the global maneuvers that go with
it are by now just part of the way of life of a Washington eternally "at war".
They are the tics of a great power with the equivalent of Tourette's Syndrome. They happen
because they can't help but happen, because they are engraved in the policy DNA
crucial resources, especially energy, and so on. But

of our national security complex, and can evidently no longer be altered. In other
words, they can't help themselves.

Today the Mahanian logic of Maritime control manifests

itself in island bases such as Diego Garcia
Spingola, historian, 08
[Deanna, 2-10, The Power Elite Playbook, Government by Gunpoint,, accessed 7-13-14,
Theodore Roosevelt became president after McKinley's assassination. Other
presidents had long dreamed of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific.
Roosevelt, a pragmatist, felt that a canal was practical, vital and
indispensable to the globalist destiny of supremacy over U.S. coastal waters.
The globalist goal, even then, was U.S. control of key islands in the Caribbean
and the Pacific. [16] Roosevelt was a proponent of a doctrine proposed by
U.S. naval officer and scholar Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), in his 1890
book Influence of Sea Power upon History. The theory was that supremacy at
sea was an integral part of commercial and military prowess. Mahans
supremacy mentality also included the Indian Ocean and islands like Diego
Garcia which the U.S. currently controls. Mahan said: whoever attains
maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean, the third largest in the world, would
be a prominent player on the international scene. [17]

Diego Garcia is the basis for US geopolitical and economic

power projection over the entire globe our analysis is
crucial to understanding global US militaristic strategies
Vine, assistant professor of anthropology at American
University, 2009

[David, ISLAND OF SHAME The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on
Diego Garcia, page 140-145, Jacob]
To understand why officials wanted a base on Diego Garcia in the
first place and what this says about the nature of the United States
as an empire, about current trajectories in U.S. foreign and military
policy, and about empire more broadly, we must now return to the
history of the Cold War and to longer-term imperial trends.
Remember that in the 1950s and 1960s, U.S. officials faced a swirling
mixture of fears about decolonization, base access, rising Soviet and
Chinese power, and appearing soft on defense before domestic
political audiences. At the same time, they retained an understanding
of the profound military superiority of the United States over its
rivals and a powerful interest in maintaining U.S. economic and
political domination in the Indian Ocean region, increasingly in the
Persian Gulf, and around the world. In this context, the Strategic Island
Concept provided an answer to both their anxieties and their interests:
Strategically located remote island bases would protect the nations
future freedom of military action and its dominant position in the
world.13 The history of Diego Garcia shows that much of the national

security bureaucracy quickly adopted the Navys concept as an

important strategic framework. Although the costs of the Vietnam War
reined in the most far-reaching plans and left Diego Garcia as the only major
base created under the Strategic Island Concept, the strategy became an
important argument for the retention and expansion of major
preexisting island bases, including those in Guam, Micronesia, the
Bonin-Volcano islands, British Ascension, the Portuguese Azores, and
Okinawa (in the early 1970s Stu hoped to create another BIOT-like territory
with the British in Micronesia). Coupled with the first-ever buildup of U.S.
naval forces in the Indian Ocean, moreover, Diego Garcia increasingly
enabled the insertion of military power into a large and increasingly
unstable portion of the world (made unstable in many ways by other
U.S. actions). Fearing an unknowable and threatening future in the
non-Western world and increasingly in the Persian Gulf and
southwest Asia, officials in the 1950s and 1960s crafted a plan for
Diego Garcia to control the future through military force. As was
often the case in the Cold War, the easiest solution was the
military solution.14 One reason the military solution was often the
easiest has to do with gender: It is not surprising and yet still remarkable
that, as far as my research has shown, every official involved in any
significant way in the development of Diego Garcia was a man.15 As
in previous generations and elsewhere in the world, these gods of
foreign policy were unquestionably male gods. And among these men,
as we have seen, qualities of toughness, strength, efficiency,
rationality, and hardness were most admired. These were male
qualities best demonstrated by tough policies involving the use of
military force and a fearless attitude in confronting the Soviet Union.
Paraphrasing Adam Hochschild, when you came from a generation
raised on war, violence, and toughness, and when war (cold and
hot), violence, and toughness remained the unquestioned order of
the day, wielding violence efficiently was regarded as a manly
virtue.16 Any signs of weakness, doubt, or concerns for human
suffering were denigrated as weak, womanly, female. This
generation of foreign policy leaders demonstrated its maleness
through exterior displays of force, through a war in Vietnam, and
through policies like that on Diego Garcia based on the seizure and
cleansing of territory and the deployment of military power, rather
than, as Halberstam points out, through more interior forms of
strength that might have entailed a good deal of domestic political
risk.17 Still, the solution provided by Diego Garcia and the Strategic
Island Concept was hardly about toughness and military force alone.
The intent was always political, military, and economic: Diego Garcia
allowed what strategists euphemistically call intervention and the
threat of intervention in the affairs of other nations, while also, like
eighteenth-century French and British bases, helping to protect U.S.
economic interests in the region. As we have seen, protecting U.S.,
European, and Japanese access to Middle Eastern oil was initially just
one of several motivations behind the military buildup. Within a few
years of the base becoming operational, however, oil was at the core of
Diego Garcias mission. After the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet

invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the base played a central role in the

first large-scale thrust of U.S. military strength into the Middle East.
To respond to any future threats to the oil supply, Presidents Carter and
Reagan developed a Rapid Deployment Force at bases in the region,
including a rapidly enlarging Diego Garcia.18 In the years that followed, the
Rapid Deployment Force transformed into the U.S. Central Command
(CENTCOM), which came to lead three wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As
we saw in the introduction, Diego Garcia was a launchpad for bombers
and prepositioned weaponry critical to each of these wars. In this
evolution of the islands role, the base was one of the first major
steps by the United States to deploy its military power to defend
U.S. and global oil supplies. Indeed, Diego Garcia has been central to
a more than half-century-long period during which, as Chalmers
Johnson says, the United States has been inexorably acquiring
permanent military enclaves whose sole purpose appears to be the
domination of one of the most strategically important areas of the
world.19 The history of Diego Garcia thus suggests an important
revision to how we think about the United States as an empire.
Contrary to the idea stressed by some that the U.S. Empire has
become an empire of economics, Diego Garcia and the Strategic
Island Concept represent a reliance on traditional imperial tools of
overseas bases and military power to maintain U.S. dominance.
Clearly Diego Garcia and the Strategic Island Concept were not the only
reactions to declining U.S. power during the Cold Warthere were
economic, political, and other military reactions as well. But they
provided part of a solution to perceived threats while simultaneously
answering the challenges posed by decolonization to the exercise of
power through overseas bases. That is, Diego Garcia and the Strategic
Island Concept were part of the invention of a new form of empire in
the postwar era, relying heavily on overseas bases and increasingly
on discreet, isolated bases often island basesto exert power.
Responding to decolonization, Diego Garcia helped initiate an ongoing
shift of bases from locations near population centers to locations
insulated from potentially antagonistic locals. Today one sees the
realization of this model and this new kind of empire in the militarys
lily pad basing strategy: Under the strategy, the military is
creating bases that are isolated from population centers, have
limited troop deployments, and instead rely largely on prepositioned
weaponry for future (un)anticipated conflicts. As Mark Gillem writes,
avoidance is the new aim. To project its power, the United States
wants secluded and self-contained outposts strategically located
around the world.20 In the words of some of the strategys
strongest proponents, the goal is to create a worldwide network of
frontier forts with the U.S. military serving as the global cavalry
of the twenty-first century.21 With as many bases as possible, the
military hopes always to be able to turn from one nation to another
if it is denied base access in a time of war. While the reliance on
smaller bases may sound preferable to the huge bases that have
caused so much harm and anger in places like South Korea and
Okinawa, the construction of lily pads in an increasingly long list of

nations including Ghana, Gabon, Chad, Niger, Equatorial Guinea,

Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, India, Pakistan,
Thailand, Aruba, Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland represents the
growing militarization (and likely destabilization) of even larger
swaths of the globe and a dramatic expansion of an imperial vision
to dominate the world militarily.22 And, as the once austere base on
Diego Garcia shows, installations that might start out as lily pads can quickly
grow into massive behemoths. To be clear, the U.S. Empire has been
characterized to a significant degree by economic forms of Open
Door imperialism. However, the history of Diego Garcia shows that
the U.S. Empire has relied in important ways on the continued use of
military force and on increasingly discreet overseas bases in
particular to maintain its dominance. This is not to deny the
significance of economics to the U.S. Empire, only to shift the focus
toward the relatively underexplored military dimensions. Diego
Garcia suggests a more balanced perspective on U.S. Empire,
highlighting how overseas bases, along with other military and
political tools, have worked in tandem with and undergirded
economic forms of power. RUNNING THE WORLD In the face of
Chagossians struggle to return (and to work on, not remove, the base),
the intransigence of the U.S. and U.K. governments is striking for a
facility that was a product of the Cold War. Interestingly as well, Diego
Garcia only saw its first significant use as a base with the Cold Wars
end.23 Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the base has indeed
become a pivot point of U.S. strategy for the control of areas from
the Persian Gulf to east Asia. Prior to the 2003 Iraq war and September
11, 2001, the U.S. military was in the process of turning Diego into
one of four major forward operating locations for expeditionary
Air Force operations. Along with Guam, the island was selected as a
recipient of an eastward shift of materiel and weaponry from Cold
War European bases. For many in the military (especially the Air Force) the
dream is to be able to strike any location on the planet from Diego,
Guam, and Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. As I quoted military
analyst John Pike at the outset, the militarys aim is to run the planet
from Guam and Diego Garcia by 2015, even if the entire Eastern
Hemisphere has drop-kicked us from every other base in the
hemisphere. These trends suggest that Diego Garcia reveals something
fundamental about U.S. Empire, beyond the Cold War era alone: While
previous empires generally sought to dominate as much of the globe
as possible through the direct control of territory, in the twentieth
and twenty-first centuries, the U.S. Empire has increasingly
accomplished the same not only through economic and political tools
but also through a global network of extraterritorial U.S. military
installations that allow the control of territory vastly
disproportionate to the land actually occupied. Viewed
geographically, one sees how the small-scale acquisition of territory
for island bases has allowed the United States, like empires before it,
to dominate large swaths of ocean territory upon which global trade
and economic expansion relies. Coupled with a powerful navy, an
island base provides the force to effectively rule areas of ocean and

transiting military or commercial traffic. In the Pacific, controlling

bases from Okinawa and Japans main islands to Guam and Pearl Harbor has
allowed the U.S. Navy to make the ocean an American lake.
Maintaining a base on Diego Garcia has helped the United States
exert similar control in the Indian Ocean, particularly over oil traffic
from the Persian Gulf. In the role that island bases and navies play in
patrolling sea lanes and protecting oceangoing commerce, one sees
a very direct way in which overseas bases undergird the economics
of U.S. Empire.24 Bringing us back to Iraq and Afghanistan, the base
helps show how these wars were not the aberrant actions of a single
presidential administration but were instead, in important ways, the
fulfillment of a strategic vision for controlling a large swath of Asia
and, with it, the global economy, dating to at least World War II (and
significantly advanced by Diego Garcia). As others have shown, the wars
have significantly advanced the pursuit of U.S. control over Central
Asian and Persian Gulf oil and natural gas supplies through the
presence of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and private
military contractors and the creation or expansion of bases in
Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Qatar,
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and
Iraq. The strategic logic of Diego Garcia, of using bases to control
resource-rich regions, becomes even clearer when one considers
reports that the United States has been exploring plans to develop a
new base off the oil-rich west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea,
on one of the islands of So Tom and Prncipe. Currently, oil imports
from the Gulf of Guinea account for 15 percent of the U.S. total. Many predict
that the share will grow to 20 percent by 2010 and 25 percent by 2015.
Continent-wide, the Council on Foreign Relations has suggested, By the end
of the decade sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become as important as a source
of U.S. energy imports as the Middle East.25 Indeed, this may have already
come to pass. Looking at So Tom, at least one U.S. official has
described the proposed base as another Diego Garcia.26 The story
sounds eerily familiar: In July 2002, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the
U.S. European Command visited the islands. The next month, then-President
of So Tom and Prncipe, Fradique de Menezes, told Portuguese television
that he received a call from the Pentagon to tell me that the issue [was]
being studied. He added, It is not really a military base on our
territory, but rather a support port for aircraft, warships, and patrol
ships.27 Since 2002, several U.S. companies, including Exxon-Mobil and
Noble Energy, have won oil exploration concessions in the Gulf of Guinea.28
At the end of 2006, the military built a radar installation on the islands. The
following March, 200 U.S. marines conducted four days of military exercises.
Months earlier, the U.S. military announced the creation of its firstever Africa Command (AFRICOM) to oversee military operations on
the continent. Elsewhere, U.S. officials are considering the creation
of or have already established bases in Algeria, Djibouti, Gabon,
Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.29 Officials have
repeatedly denied having any interest in a base on So Tom. The
expansion of Diego Garcia into a major naval and air base fulfilled
the hopes of many in the U.S. Navy and elsewhere in the national

security bureaucracy, including Stu Barber, Horacio Rivero, Arleigh Burke,

Robert Komer, Paul Nitze, and Elmo Zumwalt. So too the base was the
realization of French lieutenant La Fontaines vision from two centuries earlier
for having a great number of vessels at anchor in Diego Garcias lagoon.30
Viewed from this long-term perspective, Diego Garcia points to both
shifts and continuities in the evolution of U.S. Empire and empire
more broadly. On the one hand, Diego Garcia and the base network
represent several long-standing imperial trends, including the
persistence of traditional imperial tools of territorial acquisition and
displacement, the development of modes of increasingly informal
and indirect rule, and the continued use of a handful of remaining
colonies and colonial relationshipsDiego Garcia, Guam, Puerto
Rico, Thule, Okinawa, South Korea among themto exert
dominance.31 This suggests that there is more continuity between
the U.S. Empire and previous empires than has been acknowledged.
Diego Garcia and much of the U.S. global basing network are to
some extent a return to an earlier form of imperialism when Britain
and France were first interested in colonizing Diego Garcia and other islands
in the Indian Ocean. In the eighteenth century, islands were initially valued
for their military and not their economic value. Bases in Mauritius and
Runion hosted warships used to secure trade with India and later to subdue
the subcontinent. Three centuries later, weapons and supplies from
Diego Garcia were among the first arriving in the Persian Gulf to link
with U.S. soldiers preparing for war in Iraq. Once the war was
underway, B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers based on Diego Garcia
dropped hundreds of thousands of pounds of ordnance on Iraqs
battlefields, killing thousands. From this perspective the
Chagossians expulsion is unsurprising: Their ancestors enslaved
arrival in Chagos was the result of a European empires efforts to
claim bases in a strategic ocean; their removal was the result of a
similar search by a new empire two centuries later. On the other hand,
Diego Garcia shows us how the U.S. Empire is a dramatically new
kind of empire. Unlike its predecessors, the United States exercises
control over other nations and peoples not primarily through
colonies but through its base network and a range of other military,
economic, and political tools. Anthropologist Enseng Ho explains that the
United States has become an empire symbolized by invisibility and
remote control. The passing of the baton from previous empires, he
writes, is marked by the progress from gunboat diplomacy to aerial
bombing. Now remote control bombers fly ever higher out of sight, while
military advisors disappear into the Filipino jungles, Yemeni mountains, and
Georgian gorges. As well, security, military, and colonial functions are
farmed out to private companies, removing them from political
oversight.32 That the United States has become an empire of
invisibility goes further: As the power of the United States has grown since
World War II, the Chagossians and increasing numbers of people
around the world have found themselves subject to the actions of
the U.S. Government but lack legal recourse to challenge their
treatment in U.S. courts. The government and its officials have thus
increasingly conducted activities that, while illegal in the United

States, are invisible to the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws when
conducted abroad. Recent examples include the decision to hold
terrorist suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantnamo Bay. At
Guantnamo, the Bush administration and later Congress withheld from
detainees the habeas corpus right to a trial and other rights generally due
people on U.S. soil. Similarly, the CIAs use of extraordinary rendition,
sending detainees to nations known to use torture as an interrogation
technique, allowed the agency and its employees to attempt to circumvent
laws and treaties banning torture. In consequence, Ho says, the U.S.
enjoys rights in [other] lands but owes no legally demandable
obligation to foreigners there. . . . Without recourse to U.S. law, prisoners
at Guantnamo are subject to the unchecked and therefore tyrannical power
of the U.S. president.33 So it is for most U.S. military bases and troops
abroad where status of forces agreements generally give the United
States, its troops and civilians, broad powers little constrained by
local, U.S., or international law.34 Maintaining this immunity from
prosecution overseas is precisely one of the reasons why the Bush
administration prevented the United States from joining the
International Criminal Court. And so it is for the Chagossians, as well
as for any prisoners currently or previously held on Diego Garcia: If
such acts had taken place within the United States, the U.S.
Government, its executive agencies or officials could likely be
challenged for violating U.S. law and the Constitution. Because the
acts that were committed against the Chagossians took place
outside U.S. soil, however, courts have upheld total federal and
individual immunity. Living outside of direct colonial rule, the
islanders have fallen within the purview of its empire but are
condemned to invisibility by the U.S. Constitution.35 So far U.S.
courts have allowed them no legal recourse whatsoever; those
responsible for their expulsion have gotten off scot-free.

Diego Garcia is just the tip of the iceberg around the

entire world bases are justified through rationalistic
policy calculations that devalue human life over military
importance this has led to the violent displacements of
indigenous populations around the entire world
Vine, assistant professor of anthropology at American
University, 2004
[David, War and Forced Migration in the Indian Ocean: The US Military Base
at Diego Garcia, Page 130 132, Jacob]
The US Government found another fantasy base in the isolated
reaches of Greenland. There the Government appears to have
ordered a similar expulsion of an indigenous people to expand its
installation at Thule, Greenland. As with Diego, the Americans started
slowly and covertly, building a weather station at Thule in 1946.
Soon there were plans for an air base and electronic surveillance equipment
pointed at the Soviet Union. In 1953, when the United States wanted to build
the air base, it made a secret deal with the Government of Denmark (which
controls Greenland) to displace around 150 Inughuit people from their homes.

Families were reportedly given four days to move or face US bulldozers. The
Inughuits were left in exile at Thule, a forbidding village 125 miles
from their native lands (Brown, 2002; Olsen, 2002).
In the US territory of Puerto Rico, the Navy carried out more
expulsions on the island of Vieques. Between 1941 and 1943, and again
in 1947, the US Navy displaced thousands of people from their land,
seizing three-quarters of Vieques for military use. Very few benefits followed
military occupation. Instead, stagnation, poverty, unemployment,
prostitution, violence, and the disruption of subsistence and other
productive activities became the rule (see McKinney, 2002). In the
Marshall Islands, the US military displaced hundreds of people from
the Bikini, Rongelap, Utirik, and Enewetak atolls, and from Lib
Island, as part of nuclear and other weapons testing since World War
II. Radiation from some of the nuclear tests caused scores of deaths
and widespread disease. The removals and the overall disruption to
Marshallese societies have led to declining social, cultural, physical, and
economic health, high rates of suicide, infant health deficits, and slum
housing conditions, to name just a few effects (see e.g. Kiste, 1974; Lutz,
In Okinawa, itself a colony of Japan before coming under direct US military
rule from the end of World War II until 1972, the military seized huge
tracks of land for its bases, both during the Battle of Okinawa and well
into the 1950s. The military initially forced Okinawans to relocate to
refugee camps and prevented them from returning to their lands.
Between 1954 and 1964, the US military shipped at least 3,218
Okinawans approximately 18,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean to
Bolivia in exchange for their lands. The Okinawans were promised new
farmland and financial assistance. In Bolivia they found jungle, disease,
and none of the promised aid (Johnson, 2004b: 50-53; Yoshida, n.d.). It is
hard not to conclude that there is a pattern of the US military forcibly
displacing groups of non-white colonized peoples to build its military
installations. In her study of Vieques, Katherine McCaffrey explains that,
Bases are frequently established on the political margins of
national territory, on lands occupied by ethnic or cultural minorities
or otherwise disadvantaged populations (2002: 9-10). In the
rationalistic calculations of government officials, 132 Vine moving
such vulnerable groups involves little political risk and low economic
costs. Under the strategic island concept in Diego Garcia, the US
Government looked to minimize the political and diplomatic risks of an act
that it knew would have some negative repercussions. From the beginning,
the Navy and the Pentagon looked for sparsely populated not
uninhabited islands. From the beginning, they knew and calculated that
they would have to remove people from small, isolated colonial islands. In the
words of Navy insider Bandjunis, the Navy realized that, remote
colonial islands with small [colonial] populations would be the
easiest to acquire, and would entail the least political headaches
(2001: 2). That is, they calculated that they would have to remove a
small group of non-white islanders. In that calculation, Pentagon
officials decided they were willing to bear whatever minimal political
and economic costs such a removal entailed. As Bezboruah explains,

Any alternative to Diego Garcia could have been much more costly in terms
of political, diplomatic, and economic price (1977: 83).

<colonialism impact?>
Traditional scholarship is bankrupt analysts ethically
detach themselves from the empire our 1acs critique is
key to reopen a new aspect of the American story
Vine, assistant professor of anthropology at American
University, 2009

[David, ISLAND OF SHAME The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on
Diego Garcia, page 24-25, Jacob]
Growing recognition about the U.S. overseas base network has
mirrored a renewed acknowledgment among scholars and pundits,
following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that the United States is
in fact an empire.43 With even the establishment foreign policy journal
Foreign Affairs declaring, The debate on empire is back, conversation
has centered less on if the United States is an empire and more on
what kind of empire it has become.44 Too often, however, the debates
on empire have ignored and turned away from the lives of those
impacted by empire. Too often analysts turn to abstract discussions
of so-called foreign policy realism or macro-level economic forces.
Too often, analysts detach themselves from the effects of empire
and the lives shaped and all too often damaged by the United
States. Proponents of U.S. imperialism in particular willfully ignore
the death and destruction caused by previous empires and the U.S.
Empire** alike.45 In 1975, the Washington Post exposed the story of the
Chagossians expulsion for the first time in the Western press, describing the
people as living in abject poverty as a result of what the Posts editorial
page called an act of mass kidnapping.46 When a single day of
congressional hearings followed, the U.S. Government denied all
responsibility for the islanders.47 From that moment onward, the
people of the United States have almost completely turned their
backs on the Chagossians and forgotten them entirely. Unearthing
the full story of the Chagossians forces us to look deeply at what the
United States has done, and at the lives of people shaped and
destroyed by U.S. Empire. The Chagossians story forces us to focus
on the damage that U.S. power has inflicted around the world,
providing new insight into the nature of the United States as an
empire. The Chagossians story forces us to face those people whom
we as citizens of the United States often find it all too easy to
ignore, too easy to close out of our consciousness. The Chagossians

story forces us to consider carefully how this country has treated

other peoples from Iraq to Vietnam and in far too many other places
around the globe.48 At the same time, we would be mistaken to treat
the U.S. Empire simply as an abstract leviathan. Empires are run by
real people. People made the decision to exile the Chagossians, to
build a base on Diego Garcia. While empires are complex entities
involving the consent and cooperation of millions and social forces
larger than any single individual, we would be mistaken to ignore how a
few powerful people come to make decisions that have such powerful effects
on the lives of so many others thousands of miles away. For this reason, the
story that follows is two-pronged and bifocaled: We will explore both
sides of Diego Garcia, both sides of U.S. Empire , focusing equally on
the lives of Chagossians like Rita Bancoult and the actions of U.S.
Government officials like Stu Barber. In the end we will reflect on how
the dynamics of empire have come to bind together Bancoult and
Barber, Chagossians and U.S. officials, and how every one of us is
ultimately bound up with both.***49 To begin to understand and
comprehend what the Chagossians have suffered as a result of their exile, we
will need to start by looking at how the islanders ancestors came to live and
build a complex society in Chagos. We will then explore the secret history of
how U.S. and U.K. officials planned, financed, and orchestrated the expulsion
and the creation of the base, hiding their work from Congress and Parliament,
members of the media and the world. Next we will look at what the
Chagossians lives have become in exile. While as outsiders it is
impossible to fully comprehend what they have experienced, we
must struggle to confront the pain they have faced. At the same time,
we will see how their story is not one of suffering alone. From their
daily struggles for survival to protests and hunger strikes in the
streets of Mauritius to lawsuits that have taken them to some of the
highest courts in Britain and the United States, we will see how the
islanders have continually resisted their expulsion and the power of
two empires. Finally, we will consider what we must do for the
Chagossians and what we must do about the empire the United
States has become. The story of Diego Garcia has been kept secret
for far too long. It must now be exposed.

This years resolution has centered on OTEC, offshore

wind, and the law of the sea treaty - while in the abstract
these may be good discussions they glaze over the
deeper ethical questions of the way the ocean is militarily
explored and developed.

Our argument is not that the resolution is bad but

simply our discussion of it is flawed Status quo
discourse ignores discussions such as Diego Garcia and
the broader way militarism has implicated the ocean
Thuswhen tasked with the question of whether or not
the USFG should increase its non-military development
and/or exploration of the oceans, we must first question
how the USFG has come to develop or explore the oceans
- in response to the resolution, ___ and I advocate that the
United States federal government engage in non-military
exploration of its relation to the Earths oceans.
Rather than utilizing the same militaristic logic that
justified the expulsion and dehumanization of the
Chagossians and many other populations, we choose to
engage in a critical investigation of those epistemologies,
signaling a shift in ideology through our affirmation of
non-military exploration.