The end of World War Two brought a power vacuum in Europe. The competition for world dominance, notably between USA and the USSR, resulted in the Cold War – a period of political tensions between the two nations. Both countries felt the need to legitimize their control through establishing military bases in foreign lands. Soon after, other countries followed suit by stationing their own militaries overseas. Questions arise amongst afflicted nations whether they should maintain or remove foreign military bases in their country.
Counting the Costs
According to the Transnational Institute, there are two principal problems regarding foreign military bases. The first is the undermining effect these bases have on international peace and security. Since these bases are ‘integral preparations for war’ they increase the proliferation of weapons and violence, fueling instability. Secondly, there are social and environmental effects to local communities caused by testing of military weapons. This testing, however, is instrumental in meeting the purpose of maintaining security.
As someone who grew up on a military base in Japan, Press Team Director Lindsay Peak describes her childhood as “peaceful” and that both Japanese and American citizens in the region actively work together to bring cooperation and understanding to both communities.
‘Tie a leash to the war dog before it bites us’
When asked if we should maintain or remove foreign military base in any country, Disarmament Commission’s main submitter, delegate of Portugal, stated we should maintain these bases “as long as they follow United Nation’s control” and by regulating such bases under the UN, we can “tie a leash to the war dog before it bites us.” The delegate of U.S. called such actions “necessary” in maintaining internal security; there is a “new threat of nuclear, biological, chemical terrorism and so we must be ready and prepared to stand up against such terror.”
No Pain, No Gain
The Diplomat news source explains that setting up military bases overseas ‘represents a steadfast commitment to an ally’ where such commitment will ‘sustain diplomatic partnership and regular military engagement and training with the host nation.’ This build-up of trust can have positive security, economic, political and social impacts.
Environmental Waste Left Behind
The environmental degradation of having large-scale military bases can be damaging much for a small nation. In Vieques, Puerto Rico, U.S. troops left without cleaning up their toxic mess – making it nearly impossible to live on much of the island.
The Cold War is over and done with, but the “War on Terrorism” continues on. The legitimacy of this war will be left for a later debate, but in the meantime — Should foreign military bases be removed or maintained? The verdict is yours.
By Afif Haitsam
Photo By Yeon Geong and Aya El Husseini