A recent Seamus Milne article in the Guardian considered the presence of US bases in England as being inconsistent with the UK’s perceived status as an independent state. It noted that these eleven bases hide dishonestly behind titles that start with the prefix RAF. Some are wholly controlled by the US and Welford (Berkshire), for example, contains one of the largest heavy munitions stores in Western Europe. The next day there was a small flurry of letters to the editor from objectors or from those who thought that they brought employment. Although Milne made the point in the article that bases receive most supplies from the US, and most personnel are housed behind security barricades and don’t pay taxes here.
Giuseppe Maneggio, an Italian blogger wrote an article in Il Primo Nazionale, an Italian on-line daily journal, about American bases in Italy. The completion of the construction of a large and powerful tracking station on 27 January 2014 in Niscemi, Sicily was the precipitant for his piece. He described the installation of this “Mobile User Objective System” MUOS, as being one part of a four base tracking system enabling the US military to retain constant communications with all mobile military systems, including drones. The other three bases in the MUOS constellation are in Hawaii, Virginia, and Kojarena in Australia.
Local Sicilians were profoundly unhappy about the presence of the Niscemi base. Credible research said that the microwave emissions would be at the very upper limit of permissable radiation and could cause tumours, leukaemia, cataracts and a reduction in fertility. Consequently, they started a movement called No-Muos which blockaded the base’s access road. In October 2012 the Procura di Caltagirone, the local Director of Public Prosecutions, ruled that it was unacceptable that the installation was being built in the Sughereta di Niscemi nature reserve. There would also be interference with the passage of migrating birds.
The Governor of Sicily, a voluable and colourful man, Rosario Crocetta, started to protest loudly and in January 2013 declared war on the Amercian project. No-Muos supporters were greatly encouraged by this high-level official support and the blockade started again. Simultaneously the Italian Government’s Minister of Defence Giampaolo Di Paola, and later his successor Mario Mauro, forbade the blockading of the base. This was followed by a new central Government-sponsored survey which claimed that MUOS presented no health or environmental dangers.
According to Maneggio, Governor Crocetta suddenly had a Damascene conversion and started to support the Government line. Sicily was stunned and the Governor’s credibility plumetted. In his defence he said that he had been pressured strongly by the CIA. Maneggio questions the presence of not only MUOS but also a reported massive total of 113 US installations on Italian soil. Many are linked with NATO. But, there are six important installations at Aviano, Catania, Gaeta, Naples Airport, Pisa/Livorno, and Vicenza, as well as Niscemi.
There was a petrol pipeline leak at the Aviano base in the north east that could have had a devastating environmental impact. The press were silent. They are similarly quiescent about the Niscemi base. Maneggio questions the apparent independent neutrality of the Italian state (as one should the UK’s) when it can be pushed about, disregarded and just used as a submissive colony. He concludes by commenting on the effect of this aquiescence: “America has won again and Italy is insulted.”
Europe is peppered with US and US/NATO bases. The UK’s own list includes: RAF Alconbury, RAF Barford St John, RAF Croughton, RAF Blenheim Crescent, RAF Fairford, RAF Feltwell, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Molesworth, RAF Upwood and RAF Welford. Neither Scotland’s Holy Loch or RAF Edzell are now used. But Alex Salmond said recently that he would want to join NATO and he would encourage US bases after independence.
So, why are the European political class unable to break away from this subjugation?