This past week, thousands of Japanese people came out and protested the continuing presence of our military base in Okinawa. This begs the question, why are we there? I think, outside of a few peaceniks, isolationists and Amish, I’m bound to get only one main answer.
They usually say something like, “We need the base in Japan, like the base in Germany and in sixty-one (no exaggeration) other countries so we can have a fast strike capability against our potential enemies,” or something like that.
But does it make our military stronger or us any more safe? This empire was set up at the end of WWII as we and the Russians carved up the world to draw it in our political image. If we assume that was a moral thing to do at the time, does it still apply today? Do we need planes loaded with nukes flying over the edge of northern Russia just in case the bomb gets dropped? No.
I think what we are breeding around the world by our empire is contempt, not admiration, fear or respect. Setting ourselves up as the world hegemony sets us up as the most obvious target. The reason I think this is because that is exactly how I would feel.
Imagine if Saudi Arabia planted a base in upstate New York and filled it with 50,000 troops. Imagine its excuse is they need to make sure Canada wasn’t planning something sneaky behind the pleasant mask of politeness, Tim Horton’s and curling.
I wouldn’t stand for it, and I don’t think you would either. Occupying forces breed contempt, anger and eventually violent aggression. If it were all up to me, I’d start bringing back our forces from around the world and close down bases as soon as possible. They cost of billions of dollars every year, spread our military thin and violate our own principles about national sovereignty.
Nevertheless, if we are going to keep our forces in Germany and Japan and the like, for consistency’s sake, we’d better spend a few billion more and set up a couple of bases in France. Just in case Napoleon thinks about coming back.