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COMMENTARY: WAR

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Military Bases Around The World

In the last half of the 1800s, Britain, Germany, France and  the US were expanding in the Pacific, and elsewhere. They were concerned with trade, and a good navy was considered important in protecting trade as well as national security. It was a powerful navy, moreover, that convinced the Chinese and Japanese to open trade with the West. But the days of big navies to protect or expand trade are over. And using land armies for the sake of economic well-being is equally obsolete. Japan tried it In the early 1930s, when the Japanese believed that their economic enterprises in Manchuria were vital to their national well-being, and aggressive military leaders in Manchuria applied military force that expanded into a war with China. The Japanese would have done better cooperating with the Chinese, pursuing technological advances and adhering to a strategy of mere defense against physical assaults.

Britain pursued a military option in 1939 against German and Italian aggressions. One can argue that it was in defense of world order. Nevertheless in bankrupted the country, and after World War II they could not afford to fight to maintain their empire. But it was just as well. Colonialism was approaching its end, becoming a dirty word and no longer tolerated. Britain today gets on well enough economically without its colonies.

Today, we have border skirmishes and terrorism, but military aggression is almost universally condemned. The recognized best response to military aggression or threats is collective action among nations. And those working together can and do share military bases. The United States does not need military bases in 130 or so countries around the world. The United States is not trying to maintain a world empire. Moreover, modern technology, a modern navy and cooperation with others makes military bases unnecessary. The US no longer has a military base in Panama, the Philippines or Saudi Arabia and is not worse off because of it. That the US still has military bases in Japan, Korea, Germany and elsewhere is an anachronism and largely the product of inertia. Also it is an insidious economic drain that harms US economic standing in the world.

Copyright © 2006-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.