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The American Empire with the Chinese Giant Will Protect Elephants

The United States has a vast number of military bases outside its own territory: approximately 800 of them, scattered across 80-odd nations... The recent visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States, and his meeting with fellow head of state Barack Obama, was not very fruitful, but at least there was the decision to take joint action to help elephants, an animal that neither country has (Leggi in italiano)

Empire – For a country that so confidently denies being an empire, the United States has a vast number of military bases outside its own territory: approximately 800 of them, scattered across 80-odd nations.  Now, 70 years after the end of World War II, the US military are still in charge of 174 facilities in Germany and 113 in Japan – to mention two former theaters of war – but they have bases all over the world.  Some of them are practically cities, such as the US Air Force base at Ramstein, Germany, or the huge joint US Navy–USAF base on Diego Garcia Island in the Indian Ocean.  Others, on the other hand, are tiny, hosting small radio installations, storage facilities or monitoring stations.  According to David Vine's book, "Base Nation," the cost of such a huge military presence amounts to over $156 billion a year.  Though a costly luxury, the possession of military bases on foreign soil is not confined to America.  Vine points out that Britain still has seven and France five, all of them in former colonies.  Russia has eight in the former Soviet Republics and a naval base in Syria.  Even Japan has a base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.  However, 90% of the world's military bases located abroad are American.  The US military empire may not be territorial in nature, but it is present in every corner of the world.  It is enough to consider the fact that, according to Socom, the US Special Operations Command, units of Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy SEALs, and other specialised assault troops are currently stationed in 135 countries, most of them on training missions.  That's a record.  Last year it was only 133 countries.

 

Volkswagen bath – The Qatari sovereign wealth fund has so far lost some €4.5 billion of its huge investment in Volkswagen, since the notorious scandal broke out.  The Qataris can afford it.  The average income in the country – the wealthiest in the world in terms of purchasing power – is some €100,000 a year and the loss, spread across 2 million inhabitants, amounts to a mere €2.25 per head.  Nevertheless, with €9.5 billion worth of losses from other investments, and along with the negative impact of oil prices still below $50 a barrel, the fund's losses are starting to amount to a tidy sum.

 

Good for elephants – Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States, and his meeting with fellow head of state Barack Obama, was not very fruitful.  Newspaper headlines focused on a supposed agreement between the two countries to engage in a little less cyber warfare.  This subsequently proved to be a joint pledge to discuss the matter later.  There were also generic expressions of goodwill concerning climate change.  The most specific thing to emerge, though not much mentioned by the newspapers, was the decision to take joint action to help elephants, an animal that neither country has.  A White House spokesman said: "The United States and China, recognizing the important and pressing need to combat trafficking in protected species, pledge to take positive measures to tackle this global challenge (the ivory trade) significantly and promptly."  On his departure, President Xi described his brief American visit as "unforgettable."

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