At a time when the American economy undergoes crisis, the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on its military, of which a large sum goes to military bases overseas.
Is it necessary, in our modern era, for any country to have a decisive military presence all over the globe?
The United States has 6,000 bases on its own territory, while its overseas military facilities outnumber that of any other country in the globe. Experts estimate the number of bases to be between 600 and 800 spread throughout more than 130 countries. Investigative journalist, Wayne Madsen, believes several of these locations are kept secret.
“Recently, there was an incident where an Air Force enlisted man crashed into a wedding procession in Lithuania…it turns out he was attached to a U.S. air base in Lithuania … so everyday we notice additional U.S. bases that we seldom heard of in the past,” Madsen says.
Why such secrecy? Author and expert in U.S. military bases overseas, Alexander Cooley, says host countries often prefer to keep quite about those bases.
Usually, smaller countries tolerate U.S. presence in their territory in order to benefit from financial assistance. However, President Mikhail Saakashvili has welcomed U.S. presence on Georgian territory and has allocated several thousand hectares of land free of charge to the U.S. to use for military bases.
“Georgia wants a continuous and prolonged security engagement with the United States and with the West more broadly. Especially now that it sees that its path to EuroAtlantic integration has, in some way, been stymied. It perceives that a security relationship with the U.S. is the best way to guarantee that EuroAtlantic orientation,” Cooley says.
“So, any offer of Georgian territory or facilities to the United States or to NATO members is an attempt to lock in that kind of security interest and that type of engagement,” he adds.
Meanwhile, some analysts say the United States does not need 25% of its military bases overseas. Last year, the U.S. invested as much as the rest of the world’s budget for its military. And this comes at a time when American citizens are living the consequences of the global financial crisis. Madsen says Washington cannot afford the costs of those bases anymore.
Can the new U.S. President cut spending on the U.S. military and invest more in the needs of taxpayers? Analysts warn President Barrack Obama will not significantly curtail U.S. imperial ambition.