Hidden away somewhere within the labyrinth of the Pentagon there must be a top secret euphemism department engaged in the invention of the Orwellian surrogate words that have crept surreptitiously into the American English vocabulary and from there translated into many other languages.
In my mind I see a unit of studiously serious executives, coffee mugs in their hands and their neckties awry, devising senseless terms for terrible things and used unthinkingly by people today from New York to California, from Maine to Texas. The goal of my imaginary secret unit is to render ugly terms meaningless or to transform them into their opposite. To quote the perceptive Scottish writer, Candia McWilliam, “plain words are always under threat.” There are words that don’t say what they mean and there are words that say what they don’t mean.
Intensified or enhanced interrogation sounds oh so much more genteel than the hideous word TORTURE. Collateral damage goes down quite well instead of the savage bombing and strafing of a funeral procession or a wedding party. Military leaders themselves have come to love the suggestive word “footprints” to indicate the evidence of America’s powerful presence throughout the world: “We were here and we leave this little sign with you.” A little footprint, maybe a fleet of super bombers or Predator drones.
The point to keep in mind is that the names of things, issues, objects of life change, but the substance of the object itself remains—torture will always be torture, no matter what the gnomes propose and the media parrot.
Today, though generally unknown among the public, the relatively new term, “lily pad,” is making its way forward to describe not that beautiful manifestation of nature but the new version of America’s over 1,000 military bases and garrisons spreading across some 150 countries of planet Earth. You can always count on those Pentagon gnomes. They regularly come up with something new. It remains unclear however if they first invent the terms and the military executes their implications or if the military experiments with a new lethal strategy and the gnomes then give it a purified label.
In the case of the “lily pad,” this linguistic version of the sheep in wolf’s clothing, was allegedly conceived to spread the U.S. footprint into every corner of our planet and to make military bases more effective and comprehensive while giving the impression that the government is both protecting “our way of life,” while also saving taxpayer money—money then used for more weapons and the hiring of more mercenaries and for payoffs to eager satraps of the Empire’s vassal states; some nations, peoples, and even minor empires can be more easily bought than subdued militarily.
What is a military lily pad?
Nature’s lily pad is a floating leaf of the white water lily family. The scientific name of lily pad is nymphaea odorata. You might see a bullfrog sitting on a lily pad in a pond. The lily pad does not sink under its weight. The giant water lily, victoria amazonica, has the world’s biggest lily pad, up to four feet, which can support the weight of several people at once. The lily pad lies tranquilly on the surface of the pond, offering both refuge and camouflage for the frog, protecting it from predators. The lily pad fits in with its natural surroundings, as does the frog.
Some nature-loving gnome then had the genial idea of a military base-lily pad. Why? For what purpose? For it is not true that smaller, more mobile lily pad-like bases, remain hidden and much cheaper. Nor is it true that local people, even in the jungle of a Pacific island do not know about them, are blind to their presence. Soldiers in jungle clothing jogging through the bush are not invisible. That planes landing and taking off are unheard and unnoticed is absurd. The 1,000 military bases today cost the U.S. taxpayers less? Not on your life, naïve taxpayer!
Is the U.S. objective to make less impact on local populations with a smaller presence, a less visible footprint and simultaneously perhaps offer employment to a few locals? Jamais de la vie! As if anyone in those secret Pentagon rooms gave one hoot in hell about those little brown people? Besides, just because a lily pad base appears to be the opposite of huge Ramstein or other city-like military bases in Germany and in the USA home territory itself doesn’t mean that what begins as a lily pad in Bulgaria will not quickly become small towns as well. Soldiers have to be offered comfortable living conditions, which means bars and shops and eating places and medical facilities and private rooms for many; it means no latrine cleaning and kitchen police jobs for soldiers; locals do that for low pay. Soldiers today demand to have their families with them, which means apartment blocks and private cars and schools and hospitals. Moreover, every job the lily pad gnomes remove from the USA and outsource abroad, means fewer jobs in America.
That 1,000 lily pad bases across the world cost the American taxpayer less is thus an illusion, a false clue to the raison d’etre of the so-called lily pad bases. The law of the unstoppable growth of bureaucracy dictates that with enough time small bases will become big bases. That is the way of the world. You build runways and training grounds and a few barracks and voila, the initially Spartan lily pad grows into another Ramstein. Meanwhile, military bases, whether lily pads or Ramsteins, continue to erode what remains of the U.S. image the world over, exacerbating hate for the USA wherever they are found.
So why? Why the string of America’s military bases. Why the already failed experiment of tiny lily pads when all they mean is expanded U.S. militarization of the world? The why lies in the answer: it is part and parcel of American occupation of the world. The New World Order. The American Century.
Of course U.S. world domination remains the ultimate goal but the explanation is insufficient. Though a great part of the globe is already under U.S. domination, whether of the direct military sort or purely economic, there are still some hurdles to achieve total dominion. Not only obstacles but America’s own manias and phobias to be overcome.
For there remains Russia and China to be dealt with. Touchy subjects indeed. Though total madness to consider, war with either is possible but in my estimation not probable. In any case, it is a mistake to lump the two great nations together or even to attempt to juxtapose the two. Russia is Russia; China is China. Russia is a much more immediate problem for U.S. aims than is China. As the astute student of international affairs and presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a March 26 interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Russia “is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”
Here I have zeroed in on the Russian hurdle, wondering if the USA even has a legitimate Russian policy. In the mind of the mad planners, Russia is more than just a geopolitical problem. More than the New World Order. The answer to the riddle to many like Romney is Russia. America rejects anything that can strengthen Russia. America fears Russia. America fears the revival of the Russian empire. The USA might prefer to bypass unbypassable Russia. But it cannot. Remember the old post-World War II quip that “the real role of NATO is to keep the Russians out (of Europe), the Americans in and the Germans down”? Still valid today.
Ideologically Europe might agree with America even though it makes no economic sense because Europe’s real, long-term interests lie in Russia. It depends on its neighbor, Russia. Russia is more European than America’s neocons even imagine. Even Adolf Hitler knew that. Especially today, Europe depends on the natural gas of which Russia has the world’s greatest reserves.
Geopolitically, Russia was also the reason for America’s theft of the province of Kosovo from Serbia. It is not for oil. It is not to inch closer to Iran. It is Russia. Though Russia lost many lands after 1989, it still supported its brothers in Serbia, a nation which refused to embrace capitalism. America’s military establishment and their neocon pals accused Serbia of genocide. But Serbs were no more criminal than Croats and Bosnians and Albanians . . . and Americans.
Like missile shield bases in the Czech Republic and military bases in Poland and the Baltic States, the encirclement of Russia lies at the heart of lily pad strategy, which means nothing more than more military bases. Crush the Russians so they never rise again. Russia and its Socialist messianism. Its mission to save the world! You cannot nuke Russia because they have the bomb too . . . and the possibility of delivering it. So encircle them. Then squeeze them.
Let me say a few words about the relationship between Russia and the U.S. theft of the heart of Serbia. You might read entire studies that it was for protection of the oil pipelines. The Anglo-American alliance to dominate oil and gas routes and corridors from the Caspian to the Black Sea across the Balkans. The scramble for control of the national economies of the entire former Soviet bloc. The alliance between the U.S. Defense Department and oil cartels. OK! Granted, oil is a small part of the reason. Meanwhile all kinds of covert activities originate in Kosovo. CIA secret detention-torture centers. Drugs from Afghanistan and the recycling of drug money. Militarization along the strategic East-West corridors. Kosovo is a living footprint of American power moving steadily eastwards. Imposition of the sacred dollar over the euro. That is all part of it. But never forget the containment of Russia. Control of the Balkans starts in Russia’s friend, Serbia. To crush Russia, smash Serbia. That is the fundamental point. Behind every Serb, the saying goes, stands a Russian. Fucking Russian Commies anyway! Let them drink themselves to death without ever, ever regaining one centimeter of world control.
Think of U.S. policies toward Russia—“America’s great enemy!”—and remember that the old geopolitical encirclement philosophy is still on the table. Since 1917 when revolutionary Russia dared oppose capitalism, encirclement of Russia has been right in the center of the table. Crush Russia and you crush Socialism. The final solution of the Russian-Socialism question. Crush any idea that smacks of Socialism, America’s eternal obsession.
For American planners Communism is always a threat and old habits of containment of Great Russia are hard to break. Russians believe U.S. hostility toward them derives from something buried in America’s puritanical genetic make-up. That Americans consider them barbarians they have to contain . . . as ancient Rome did the barbarians in the wild north. That America has to encircle and circumscribe them and dictate and preach to them and look down on them . . . just as one Adolf Hitler did. Maybe there is also jealousy, Russians suspect. Envy of Russia’s vast lands. Envy of its great culture. Russia has something that America lacks. Ignorant cynics might say that it has to do with the great natural gas reserves in Siberia. In any case, though the source of the perceived Russian threat is a mystery, the memory of competition with Russia for world domination during the Cold War remains alive in the West, especially across the Atlantic. Russia has something to do with the existence of the soul. That famous Russian soul that prompted the esoteric thinker Rudolf Steiner to predict that the “cultural epoch” after the present one dominated by Europe and the USA would be led by spiritual, messianic Russia.
Time lends transparency to events that are jumbled when they happen but which turn out to be historical landmarks. Post-communist Russia was defenceless. The USA could do as it liked in the world. Attack Iraq to get back at Russia. Establish lily pad bases along Russia borders to threaten Russia. Get Serbia to get Russia.
Despite Castro and Chavez and victories by left-leaning leaders in a handful of nations to the South, Latin America remains pretty much a great American colony. The Arab world and the Middle East are under attack and one nation after the other has already fallen. The little publicized U.S. penetration in Africa is practically unopposed. America controls Asia from Australia, Japan, Hawaii, the Guam military island and power economic influences in Southeast Asia. But there remain Russia and China. I believe Russia is truly American enemy number 1. I believe the attack on China is to be an economic-dominated one of accommodation in which the rest of the world becomes coolies.
In any case, for now the lily pad bases spread from West to East along the belly of Russia. Step by step. From base to base. A new language of conquest. Creeping, creeping inexorably from West to East. Along the underbelly of deep, deep Russia, lying in wait.
For Russia is back. Russia is not about to roll over like a poodle for America. If Washington is pointing toward another Cold War—this time with even greater stakes and threats to world peace—Russia too is getting ready. Russia feels targeted by America. Russia asks which countries are targets for America’s missile shields in East Europe? The U.S. answer is silence. What country has the type of missiles America aims at intercepting? The answer is Russia. Therefore, Russia assumes the U.S. missile shield is aimed at it. Now American-led NATO land forces have passed the River Oder into Poland—just as Hitler once did—and deployed its lily pads near Russia’s borders. This is much more menacing than another Cold War.
Russia, in American eyes the enemy of progressive mankind. Russia, guilty of the Great October Revolution of 1917. Russia, a threat to the New World Order. Communist Russia chose a new direction of social evolution, qualitatively different from the Western direction, and it achieved certain successes. Communist Russia’s solutions to fundamental social problems and its quickly developed scientific, intellectual and creative potential in such a short time frightened the West no less than Russia’s military potential and its messianism. For many nations of the world, the experience of Socialist Russia became an infectious prototype, a paradigm for the poor of the world. The post-war Soviet Union imposed its social order on the countries of Eastern Europe, immensely increasing its influence in the rest of the world while the Communist idea expanded over the planet.
At that point Capitalism faced the threat of decline or historical death while Soviet Russia became the second Superpower. That meant Cold War. Cold because both sides had enough nuclear power to destroy the planet. For many decades the West feared the Russian threat because it realized that in an open military confrontation between the USA and Soviet Russia, the victory of world Communism might have become real. Under the influence of Russian Communism, the West itself had to adopt socialist features for a short time—the profit motive was cut short, an antiracist movement was born in the West, working people insisted on social rights, Social Security was established, colonialism declined, a kind of popular democracy seemed to be developing; social democracy flourished.
Such is the accusation against Russia. The threat to “our way of life.” Thus the Russian nation is the heart of evil, the propaganda gnomes preached, guilty of crimes against humanity. We must inculcate in people the truth that Russia is the Empire of Evil, the Soviet period a black hole in the history of mankind, and Socialism a crime against human progress. Russia itself must be destroyed for the sake of the salvation of the Western world and its values.
For Russia, the growing number of U.S. bases near their borders threaten to set off new Cold Wars. Great Britain, like empires before it, had to close most of its foreign bases in the midst of an economic crisis in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States is headed in that direction. For surely it is only a question of time before America is forced to do the same—its mountainous national debt ought to be crippling it. But it seems to have discovered the capacity to live on virtual money—at everyone else’s expense.
The USA is again facing the same old conundrum. The US military believes that America must maintain its advantage as Russia and China start to expand their own military. Both are starting from a base a tenth the size of the US military without all the overhead of the cold war infrastructure. But America can’t afford the military machine it maintains today. Meanwhile, neocon gnomes have convinced Americans that they have a divine right to protect their selfishly affluent lifestyle and the global corporate interests on which it depends—but that Russia, spiritual, messianic Russia, stands in the way to freedom and “our way of life,” the never-ending American dream, which must be preserved at any cost. “Freedom,” “democracy” and “our way of life” (selfish and unsustainable)—all lies in the service of American Empire.
Gaither Stewart lives in Rome and serves as European correspondent for The Greanville Post, His latest novel, Lily Pad Roll, was just published by Punto Press. Lily Pad Roll is volume two of Stewart’s Europe Trilogy, dealing with post Cold War espionage, the encirclement of Russia, and the maintenance of a global strategy of tension.