From Italy to the Indian Ocean, from Japan to Honduras, a
far-reaching examination of the perils of American military bases
American military bases encircle the globe. More than two decades
after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. still stations its troops at
nearly a thousand locations in foreign lands. These bases are usually
taken for granted or overlooked entirely, a little-noticed part of
the Pentagon's vast operations. But in an eye-opening account, Base
Nation shows that the worldwide network of bases brings with it a
panoply of ills—and actually makes the nation less safe in the long
As David Vine
demonstrates, the overseas bases raise geopolitical tensions and
provoke widespread antipathy towards the United States. They also
undermine American democratic ideals, pushing the U.S. into
partnerships with dictators and perpetuating a system of second-class
citizenship in territories like Guam. They breed sexual violence,
destroy the environment, and damage local economies. And their
financial cost is staggering: though the Pentagon underplays the
numbers, Vine's accounting proves that the bill approaches $100
billion per year.
For many decades,
the need for overseas bases has been a quasi-religious dictum of U.S.
foreign policy. But in recent years, a bipartisan coalition has
finally started to question this conventional wisdom. With the U.S.
withdrawing from Afghanistan and ending thirteen years of war, there
is no better time to re-examine the tenets of our military strategy.
Base Nation is an essential contribution to that debate.