An Empire of Military Bases

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Dec 21, 2010.

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  1. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    What about all the U.S. island Trusts in the Pacific? Could we leave those places? Maybe just leave a few advisors but leave those islands to their own sufficiency?

    GAP, the sad thing about Panama is that we helped create Noriega and prop him up thanks to CIA meddling. Then after we created a monster, we had to go in and destroy him. A clear example of what this type of subversive influence can lead to.

    We haven't even touched on the corporate/military collusion that occurred in the Dominican Republic with the Dole corporation either.
  2. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Then, quite frankly, the rest of the world needs to pick up some of the slack. You can't have the rest of the world insist on constant US participation in peacekeeping missions, and then complain that the US military is too big, or is acting hegemonic.

    When there have been conflicts around the world, many nations immediately turn to the US with the expectation that we will provide aid, and we often do. We've been involved in UN peacekeeping missions from Haiti to the Balkans. I personally know the Admiral (now retired) who commanded our response to the 2004 Tsunami, where we have several of our nuclear vessels providing power for entire cities. The list could go on and on about how many times other nations have turned specifically to the US for assistance, and even longer for where people want us to step in today (see also Darfur).

    People simply can't have it both ways.

    Kimball Kinnison
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I agree. If the world needs policing then the world should be policed by the world. The U.S. should support international military operations based on some algorithm of proportionality taking into consideration the size of our population and GDP.

    Korea is an example. My ideal scenario would be that the U.S. unilaterally announces that we will withdraw from the peninsula in ten years. Give the UN and the powers in the region that much time to find an alternative to American military power for keeping the peace. The U.S. will proportionally pay troops, equipment and funds into any agreed upon solution.

    Same for Europe. Give Europe ten years to dismantle NATO and reconfigure its military operations.

    The UN will have to be restructured too of course. We'll have to get rid of the antiquated security council permanent member status and veto rights.
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Of course you can. It's entirely possible for me to spend the whole day complaining about the size of the US army; what "the rest of the world" insists upon has no bearing on it.

    It seems you're confusing individuals and governments as well as cause and consequence.
  5. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    In the 19th century, the U.S. would respond to peacetime by significantly drawing down the size of its military. This continued up until roughly the U.S. Civil War. Afterwards, we continued on into the west and drove the Indians off their lands with this massive military might that was created during the Civil War. In the first part of the 20th century we had returned somewhat to a drawdown strategy during peacetime.
    But now we no longer have such drawdowns because our committments have grown so robust. This has led to a professionalised volunteer army.

    Washington warned of the dangers of a standing army for a reason: he saw the consequences of what had happened with ancient Rome and other empires. These professional imperial soldiers would need new conquests and missions. So new ones were created for them. This led to a constant state of war and soon, bankruptcy.
  6. LtNOWIS Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Eh? The end of the Civil War was lamented by all the commanders on the frontier, because they knew the Army was going to go back to a peacetime footing. The 1870s were a terrible time for the military in terms of size and quality of forces. Very few of the Civil War forces remained, and those that did were mainly enforcing martial law in the South. The famed Buffalo soldier units weren't formed until after the Civil War.

    The Indian war were fought in every decade of the 19th century. We fought the Indians just as tenaciously before the Civil War as we did after.

    We've already handed a lot of bases back to the Iraqis. And of course, the current plans call for everyone to leave in a couple years.

    As to your larger point, I'm sure the Navy and Air Force could afford to downsize. Around its height, the Royal Navy was intended to be at least as strong as the next two largest navies combined. By contrast, the US Navy currently has more tonnage than the next thirteen largest Navies combined. And of course, many of those other large navies are our sworn allies.
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Of course you can. It's entirely possible for me to spend the whole day complaining about the size of the US army; what "the rest of the world" insists upon has no bearing on it. It seems you're confusing individuals and governments as well as cause and consequence.

    To be honest though, KK did mention the "rest of the world," and not any specific person. But even with your point, I'd again ask "to what end?" Sure, any single person could sit around and complain about the size of the US military. But following your above "who has bearing" logic, the easy answer would be to say only those in the US have the right to complain about it. But we all know that's not how the world works because there are causes and consequences which work both ways.

    Every example that we've looked at in the thread, the US has been drawn into, which is summarized by Jabba's above "accidental Empire" observation. Because it makes no sense to complain about the size of the US military, and then turn around and beg the US to go handle issues like the Balkans, or to bemoan the lack of involvement in Rwanda or the like. It was fine for the US to enforce the no-fly zones for 12 years, as long as a line wasn't crossed. When the US military wanted to close down more bases in Germany, the German government protested. Other places like the Philippines kept raising leasing rates until it made sense for the US to pull out. Even other places who are "hostile" to the US like Cuba, still lease out land on their own soil because they rely on the income.

    So, sure, anyone can complain about anything. But does it make more sense to complain just for complaints sake, or does it make sense to complain in order to actually look at the specific situation?

    Jabba summarized the issue with his "sliding scale" international involvement proposal. But that proposal would bring about fundamental changes to both the UN and to NATO, and more importantly, it would change the standard for international intervention. Would that ultimately be a positive change? That is for "the rest of the world" to determine.
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    But the problem is, the rest of the world doesn't have one voice. The rest of the world doesn't wake up one morning to say "Now we want you to do this and this, America". The view that KK put forth, and that you're propagating, is a bit too simplistic in its singular approach of the rest of the world. And you know what that reeks of... drumroll... Americanocentrism. See:
    It doesn't, but nobody's done that. Because these are different people we're talking about. Some will love you, some will cooperate, some will cooperate less, some will hate you. Some will throw airplanes at you. And they can all live in one and the same country.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The thing we've all recognized in other similar or perhaps identical discussions is that the global military withdrawal of the U.S. would create a vast power vacuum that would be filled quickly by something, for good or ill or both.

    The U.S. doesn't have to leave that process completely to chance. It can help shape a post U.S. future by working with the global community to engineer (and ultimately participate in) the political/military institutions that will follow our accidental empire.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, the Habsburgs knew their time had ended, that the Prussians had long since overtaken them, and they were slowly exploring ways to extricate themselves from the remnants of their empire when events overtook and destroyed them. If the Habsburgs had acted more quickly on the political front they might have prevented two world wars.

    We could become the first military empire in history to get ahead of the curve and design our downsized future rather than wait for future events to overwhelm us.
  10. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    And what I'm suggesting is that the U.S. can't hold itself responsible for that power vacuum.

    For the rest, of course I agree that the U.N. should be restructured. Not sure how realistic it is to expect that to happen without strife, though.
  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But the problem is, the rest of the world doesn't have one voice. The rest of the world doesn't wake up one morning to say "Now we want you to do this and this, America".

    No, this is absolutely correct, and has been my point as well. But the reverse is also true. America, the country, doesn't even have one voice, and that's how it should be. Because on the flip side, "America" didn't wake up one morning and say "hey, let's go push the North Koreans out of South Korea because we have a bunch of ammo laying around and need to buy more. (well, you get my meaning.) But that's exactly how a lot of people seem to frame their criticism about the US.

    It doesn't, but nobody's done that. Because these are different people we're talking about. Some will love you, some will cooperate, some will cooperate less, some will hate you. Some will throw airplanes at you. And they can all live in one and the same country.

    Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself. But it's also a tailor made argument for Jabba's recent post, and what I've been saying about proportional sharing.

  12. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    That is not true. Prior to the Civil War, the U.S. army was around 10-20,000 men. In the 1870's the army was still three to four times its pre-Civil War size. Conscription was another of many ugly features to rear its ugly head during the Civil War(along with the first income tax).


  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Well, looks like we've got a topic in which KK, 44, Jabba, Shane, NOWIS, and SuperWatto agree.
    Guess we can shut the place down now, huh?

    Who's turning off the lights?
  14. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Ok, here is a list of United States military bases (according to that article0:

    Army
    *Bulgaria (since 2006, for training, still under Bulgarian command and under the Bulgarian flag)
    *Germany (since WWII, to keep the Germans under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians)
    *Iraq (since 2003, to maintain stability and to fight terrorism)
    *Israel (under construction, to track missiles through radar)
    *Italy (since 1965)
    *Japan (since WWII, to keep the Japanese under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese)
    *Kuwait (since the Persian Gulf War, to guard against Iraq and to protect Saudi Arabia)
    *Kosovo & Serbia (since 1999, to keep the peace)
    *South Korea (since the Korean War, to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese & North Koreans)

    Marines
    *Afghanistan (since 2001, since we're at war)
    *Germany (since WWII, to keep the Germans under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians
    *Japan (since WWII, to keep the Japanese under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese)

    Navy
    *Bahrain (since 2003, to support the war in Iraq)
    *British Indian Ocean Territory (at a small coral atoll, to counter Soviet influence and protect sea-lanes for oil transportation, used to support war in Iraq)
    *Brazil (no info given)
    *Cuba (since Spanish-American War, to deter the communists)
    *Greece (no info given)
    *Israel (no info given)
    *Italy (no info given)
    *Japan (since WWII, to keep the Japanese under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese)
    *South Korea (since the Korean War, to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese & North Koreans)
    *Spain (since 1953, jointly with Spain, under the Spanish flag)

    Air Force
    *Afghanistan (since 2001, since we're at war)
    *Australia (no info given, presumably to deter China)
    *Bulgaria (since 2006, for training, still under Bulgarian command and under the Bulgarian flag)
    *Germany (since WWII, to keep the Germans under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians)
    *Greenland (since 1941, as a result of a treaty that the United States is responsible for Greenland's security, tracks ICBMs, presently very small)
    *Italy (since 1911)
    *Japan (since WWII, to keep the Japanese under control and to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese)
    *Kyrgyzstan (since 2001, to support the war in Afghanistan)
    *Netherlands (to aid NATO)
    *Portugal (since 1943, to refuel and support air transit)
    *Qatar (since 1999, at request of Qatar's government for regional stability)
    *South Korea (since the Korean War, to deter the Soviets/Russians & Chinese & North Koreans)
    *Spain (since 1953, for the Cold War, used to support the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq)
    *Turkey (since 1954, for NATO, for training, forthe support of operations, and for the support of humanitarian relief in the region)



    So if that site listed all of the military bases, then that's all of them there above.

    There are definitely some bases that seem to have outlived their usefulness, but some are still useful, and your big targets of Germany/Japan/Korea/Afghanistan/Iraq would be very politically difficult and probably the last to be closed.

    I could see and support us closing down the bases in: Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Bahrain, and the Netherlands.


    As for an overview of the U.S. military budget:


    By title
    Operations and maintenance: $283.3 billion
    Military Personnel: $154.2 billion
    Procurement: $140.1 billion
    Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation: $79.1 billion
  15. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    That is not even close to the total number of bases and installations. There's more like 350 that could then be divied up to close to 750 depending on what your definition of a base is.
  16. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I think it only listed what's designated a military base, not simply an installation, and I think you have to have at least 100 stationed there long-term to qualify as a base. I also listed it by country, there are multiple bases in some countries.

    I was just going by the link Jabbadabbado posted, can you help me finish the list? I may have missed some countries, but not more than a dozen I think. Maybe our "empire" of military bases isn't as large as you think? Feel free to prove me wrong. The quick research I did was interesting, Diego Garcia is an interesting island, and I had no idea that the United States is responsible for the defense and security of Greenland making them unofficially like a U.S. territory.
  17. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I think you should start with the nukes, remove your nukes from our soil. Please.
  18. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    But aren't you just "one voice"?
  19. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Admit it: You just don't want Palin to win by some sort of judicial fiat the way Bush did, launch nukes the day she's sworn in, and everyone thinks you did it.

    Actually, I think I just gave myself nightmares.
  20. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    I love this map. Try it: scroll over certain countries and it lists number of sites and gives details of activities by Presidential era.

    Army Mojo

    I usually don't agree with Mojo about things, but on U.S. militarism and the failed Drug "war", they are right on the money.
  21. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Ah, smart. You're right. Still, I would expect that if you were to hold a referendum here, the nukes would go.

    Again, cause and consequence: why is Europe weak? Why do we have American nukes on our soil? How much stronger would we need to be without 'em? It's kinda morphed into this interdependent relationship: Europe depends on America for some sort of protection or deterrent, and in return Europe more or less gives America free reign. And I'd suspect that if you were to pull back some units, the people here would be shapin' up their act sooner.

    Fixed.
  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I think you should start with the nukes, remove your nukes from our soil. Please.

    But see, this is specifically the type of thinking that needs to change if anything is going to change itself. It's easy to "blame" the US for having "its" nuclear weapons in the Netherlands, but the actual arrangement is much more complicated. The only reason the nukes are there is because of NATO authority, and the NATO nuclear self defense initiative. In fact, the US supplies and maintains the tactical nuclear bombs (no strategic weapons) solely for the use of NATO-tasked Dutch F-16 Fighter/bombers. So the Dutch government gets nuclear weapons "on the cheap," even if its as you said, it cedes some control to the US/NATO.

    I suppose if it's one's fear, the US could simply take their weapons and go drop them on whoever they wanted, but actual approval for use of the planes would have to come from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. But if a situation exists where the US has used so many options that it's down to cannibalizing Dutch nukes, I think the Earth would be a burning cinder anyway, and no one would have to worry about it.

    But instead of blaming the US for having weapons in the Netherlands, which really isn't the case, if you want to change that arrangement, you would have to get the Dutch government to modify the terms of their NATO commitment, or examine the overall role of NATO. However, I don't think the Dutch government ever will, because the arrangement allows it to be part of the de facto nuclear club with some plausible deniability directed at the US as well.
  23. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    And it's ALSO frustrating that you know more about what happens on my turf than me! How do you know this stuff? Surely not just from Tom Clancy novels.

    Anyway, before I'll suggest to also restructure NATO, I think I'd prefer having no nukes to having them on the cheap. But that could be just me. It would absolutely need to go together with a strong and just UN, though.

    Is NATO in the way of a properly acting UN?
  24. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Nah, you just have to read the various press releases:

    Here's an example:

    HERE

    Here's another example, which seems to look at some of the concerns you raised:

    HERE

    Is NATO more of a "working" UNSC? Personally, I'd say that it is.
  25. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    The map doesn't include any changes from 2007, but it does just about match with what I posted above. There's only around a dozen countries with more than 100 troops, aside from the big ones of: Afghanistan & Iraq (present wars), South Korea (Korean War, still very tense situation), Japan & Germany (World War II). Aside from those, most (nearly all) of the countries with US troops over 100 are in NATO. Some decreases are in order and overdue, but it really does not seem as big of a deal as you and Jabbadabbado are making it out to be.
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