How U.s Military Bases Abroad Harm America And The World – Elements of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, convoy to Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, January 18, 2020.
In the post-Cold War era, every president has sought to close US military bases overseas, particularly in Europe. President Bill Clinton oversaw the most significant cuts. President George W. Bush continued (PDF) the trend, closing hundreds of bases and repatriating tens of thousands of troops. President Barack Obama pulled two Army brigades out of Germany in 2012 and later reversed the trend after Russia invaded Crimea. Most recently, President Donald Trump initiated a plan to remove about 12,000 US troops from the country this year before Congress blocked the move. Whether it’s to realign American strategy, save dollars while avoiding job cuts from congressional districts, or show up after a perceived foreign policy blunder, presidential administrations have traditionally targeted U.S. bases overseas for sustenance.
How U.s Military Bases Abroad Harm America And The World
The push to cut back on US bases overseas isn’t going away anytime soon. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, recently noted, “Large, permanent US bases overseas may be necessary for rotational forces to go in and out, but I think the permanent positioning of US forces requires a significant review of about the future.” Voices on the left and right have advocated reducing America’s overseas footprint. A major rethinking of US basing in the Middle East is underway. Even within the Defense Department, there have been calls to move away from permanent bases to project US power or deploy temporary forces. At the heart of this opposition is the belief that overseas bases are anachronistic, based on outdated geostrategic assumptions and outdated forms of warfare. Yet while U.S. bases overseas date back to the aftermath of World War II, the dual deterrence and comfort rationale for stationing troops—especially land forces—overseas remains valid in the 21st century.…
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Raphael S. Cohen is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Corporation; co-director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program of the AIR FORCE project; and a former active duty officer in the Army.
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From Italy to the Indian Ocean, from Japan to Honduras, a far-reaching investigation into the dangers of US military bases overseas surrounds the Earth. More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States still has nearly a thousand troops stationed in foreign countries. These bases are usually taken for granted or completely ignored, a barely noticeable part of the Pentagon’s vast operations. But in an eye-opening account of Base Nation, he shows that a worldwide network of bases brings plenty of trouble—and actually makes the nation less secure in the long run. As David Vine demonstrates, overseas bases create geopolitical tension and widespread antipathy toward the United States. They also undermine American democratic ideals, force the United States to partner with dictators, and maintain a system of second-class citizenship in territories like Guam. They breed sexual violence, destroy the environment and damage local economies. And their financial costs are staggering: although the Pentagon downplays the numbers, Vine’s accounting shows the bill approaches $100 billion a year. For many decades, the need for overseas bases has been a quasi-religious dictate of US foreign policy. But in recent years, a bipartisan coalition has finally begun to challenge that conventional wisdom. As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan and thirteen years of war come to an end, there is no better time to review the principles of our military strategy. Base Nation makes a fundamental contribution to this debate.
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Just looking at the maps in David Vine’s well-documented Base Nation gives you the chills – and tempts you to read the book. He went on a modern-day treasure hunt of sorts, finding and showcasing our military forces around the world, then pondering whether their remote presence would achieve or undermine the goal of promoting a peaceful and prosperous world. While we don’t share all of David Vine’s conclusions, Base Nation is good evidence that more and more people across the political spectrum are coming to the conclusion that our military is based here on American soil. In the United States Senate, I advocated for greater investment in our bases at home, where our forces have greater unrestricted training opportunities and can be deployed quickly and better prepared for combat around the world. Pentagon officials and members of Congress should pay close attention to Vine’s arguments for reducing our presence abroad to strengthen the future security posture of the U.S. military and the fiscal health of our nation. The national security policy of the United States rests on this claim. that a “forward presence” contributes directly to global peace and security. In this powerful book, David Vine examines, dissects, and refutes this claim. It shows that America’s extensive network of overseas bases imposes costs—not only financial, but also political, environmental, and moral—that far exceed what the Pentagon is willing to admit. Base Nation makes a scathing critique, and Washington will no doubt try to ignore it. Citizens must refuse to allow this to happen. Who knew we had over eight hundred bases around the world? And what do our troops do there when they’re not busy intervening in other people’s conflicts? Such are the questions at the heart of David Vine’s remarkable, impeccably written and lucid analysis of the costly madness that is America’s current colonial-military complex. His book is a marvel and should be read by all in power. “U.S. national security policy rests on the claim that a ‘forward presence’ contributes directly to global peace and security. In this influential book, David Vine examines, dissects, and refutes it. He shows that America’s extensive network of overseas bases imposes costs—not only financial, but political, environmental, and moral — that far exceed what the Pentagon is willing to acknowledge. Washington is trying to ignore it. Citizens must refuse to let this happen.” –Andrew J. Bacevich, author of “Limits of Power” and “Breach of Trust” “Who knew we had over eight hundred bases around the world? And what do our troops do there when they’re not busy penetrating the other people’s conflicts? Such are the questions at the heart of David Vine’s remarkable, impeccably written and clear-headed analysis of the costly madness that is America’s current colonial-military complex. His book is a marvel and should be read by all in power.” –Simon Winchester, author of “The Atlantic” and “The Men Who United the States” “Just looking at David Vine’s well-documented Base Nation maps will give you chills – and entice you to read the book. It’s a kind of modern treasure hunt, finding our military forces and showing it around the world, and then thinking deeply about whether their remote presence will achieve or undermine the goal of promoting a peaceful and prosperous world.” Dana Priest, co-author of “Top Secret America” ”While I don’t share all of David Vine’s conclusions, Base Nation shows that more and more people across the political spectrum are coming to the conclusion that our military is based here. On American soil. In the United States Senate, I have advocated for greater investment in our bases at home, where our forces have greater unrestricted training opportunities and can quickly deploy around the world better prepared for combat. Pentagon officials and members of Congress should pay close attention to Vine’s arguments for reducing our presence abroad to strengthen the future security posture of the U.S. military and the fiscal health of our nation.” –Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Chairman of the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER “A useful call to examine an issue that receives far less attention than it deserves… A plea for an explanation, a plain-language conversation about what the U.S. military is doing in the world so many places and
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