Courtesy Reuters

It is time to ask a fundamental question that few government officials or politicians in the United States seem willing to ask: Has it been a terrible error for the United States to have built an all-but-irreversible worldwide system of more than 1,000 military bases, stations, and outposts? This system was created to enhance U.S. national security, but what if it has actually done the opposite, provoking conflict and creating the very insecurity it was intended to prevent?

The most compelling arguments for opposing this system of global bases are political and practical. U.S. military bases have generated apprehension and hostility and fear of the United States, and they have facilitated futile, unnecessary, unprofitable, and self-defeating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and now seem to be inviting enlarged U.S. interventions in Pakistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa. The 9/11 attacks, according to Osama bin Laden himself, were provoked

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  • WILLIAM PFAFF wrote a syndicated column that appeared in the International Herald Tribune from 1978 to 2006 and contributed political "Reflections" to the The New Yorker from 1971 to 1992. His latest book, The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy, was published in June.
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