With over 1,000 military installations on foreign soil, the US has erected what some call an empire of bases. This film provides a glimpse into this little-known world, by taking a close look at the history of the American presence in Turkey from 1945 until the present.
Through interviews and recently declassified documents, the film addresses the rise of opposition to the US presence as part of the larger democratization process. In the 1960s this opposition ranged from non-violent demonstrations against the Navy’s port visits to Istanbul, strikes by unionized base workers, to kidnappings of American soldiers. As a result, US planners had to radically downsize their operations in Turkey.
The Iraq War in 2003 triggered another severe crisis in bilateral relations and an upsurge of social protest around the world. However, while a number of countries condemned the US-led invasion, many simultaneously opened up their air space and allowed the full use of the military bases on their territory. Ankara, however, denied basing access for the invasion. As a result of decades of pressure from below, the Turkish parliament had succeeded in gaining increased control over US military activities in Turkey. This set an example for the Iraqi parliament which passed a resolution demanding the full withdrawal of all US troops and bases from Iraq by the end of 2011. Global in scope, and overwhelming in firepower, the US military is increasingly accountable to democratic forces in countries that host American troops and bases.
Interviews with: Mihri Belli, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Oktay Etiman, Masis Kürkçügil, Ayşe Gül Altınay, Yildiz Önen, Joseph Gerson, Meyda Yeğenoğlu, Akın Atauz, Sami Kohen, Raed Jarrar, Catherine Lutz, Wilbert van der Zeijden and others.
Editors: Aras Özgün, Özlem Sarıyıldız, Mohamed Samir, Mahmoud Amin, Clark Birchmeier
Camera: Aras Özgün, Bashir Wagih, Özlem Sarıyıldız, Begüm Özden Fırat, Mehmet Ali Üzelgün
Translation: Adam Yassin Mekiwi, Salma Salah, Örsan Şenalp
Design: Nadine Donath