Journalist and novelist
Author of MacTiernan's Bottle
From the Author
A lily pad is a floating leaf of the white water lily family. A bullfrog sits 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 is quiet. It lies tranquilly on the surface of the pond water, offering refuge and camouflage for the frog, protecting it from predators. The lily pad fits in with its natural surroundings, as does the frog.
Human beings are the only creatures which do not fit in with the rest of nature. Nature is simple. But mankind rejects simple living. The American military has adopted the lily pad concept. In military jargon, a lily pad means an outpost, an advance camp, a foreign base, or a staging area, only one in a series. It means a scaled down military facility with theoretically little permanent personnel, often used as a staging ground for Special Forces and Intelligence operations. Soldiers may then leapfrog from one lily pad to another. The outpost aspect of the military lily pads follows the model of the multiplying lily pads. Especially the giant water lily leaf. They not only multiply but also grow in size and in time tend to become permanent military bases now encircling the world. For example, Afghanistan is a gigantic lily pad; permanent, also a place to move out from, a place from which soldiers go out to 'conduct operations' against other people around that part of the world.
In American military thinking, the huge city-like bases for 100,000 troops in Germany are no longer necessary. So America is "reconfiguring its footprint"--that is, reviewing its global deployment of troops in order to be able to apply military force anywhere rather than be tied to a small number of bases. That is the lily pad concept, the analogy of frogs hopping around a growing number of foreign bases. Frogs equal battle-ready troops. Saudi Arabian restrictions on the use of U.S. bases there resulted in the construction of the Qatar lily pad. The air war against Serbia and the theft of its historic territory of Kosovo made possible the creation of the giant lily pad-state in the Balkans. Lily pads now dot Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic, northwards to the Baltic States, across the Black Sea to Georgia, another lily pad-state, to lily pad-state Iraq, and on to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan and to Singapore. The only limit today is the surface of planet Earth, but the moon and Mars are not excluded from military "Strangelove" ambitions and dreams. At the last count--no one can be precise since the U.S. maintains secret bases and Intelligence installations all over the world--the United States of America had 737 bases and more than 600,000 soldiers manning garrisons or involved in countless operations in some 200 nations, spanning the globe from Europe to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Far East, the Pacific, Africa and Latin America. To this figure one must add hundreds of thousands of "private contractors", aka mercenaries--their exact number is also secret--serving the interests of the global American empire. Like the lily pads. It is safe to assume that their number is growing.