US Military Bases Abroad
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0034
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0034
Since World II, the United States has maintained a network of hundreds of military bases, installations, and facilities across the globe. Some bases in Germany, Japan, and Korea are large cities that host tens of thousands of troops and their families, while others are as small as a communications station in a remote part of a host country. The basing network is central to US power projection and military capabilities, and while some scholars have regarded the network as indispensable to America’s establishment of the global “liberal order,” others refer to it as America’s “empire of bases.” Analytically, the topic of foreign overseas military bases interfaces with several subfields in political science and the broader social sciences. International security scholars and grand strategists look at the strategic roles of bases, as well as their overall functions within US global strategy. Disputes about bases, cost-sharing formulas, and access rights have frequently risen to the top of the security agenda between the United States and its NATO and East Asian allies, while negotiations over basing rights also interface with the study of foreign policy, diplomacy, and international bargaining. International law scholars have analyzed the unusual legal regimes and status of forces agreements that govern the US presence abroad, including the often politically sensitive issue of which side exercises jurisdiction over foreign military personnel in the host country who are involved in accidents or are accused of committing crimes. More recently, comparativists have begun examining the social and political impact of bases on host countries, while a broad range of social scientists has researched domestic opposition to the US military presence and the emergence of anti-base protest and citizens’ movements.
General Overviews and Surveys
A number of multi-country surveys and overviews of the US basing network have appeared, though each emphasizes a different facet of the topic. Harkavy 1989 surveys bases and access agreements and their Cold War role, while Sandars 2000 provides a good set of political histories of US facilities around the world. Duke 1989 offers a comprehensive inventory of US facilities in Europe and their history. Calder 2007 provides an analytically useful investigation of the variety of bilateral relations that can inform the “base politics” between the United States and overseas hosts, while Cooley 2008 and Smith 2006 focus more on the domestic politics, especially democratization processes, that inform the US base issue in southern Europe and East Asia. Baker 2004 provides a social history of key overseas US deployments, including Germany and Japan.
Baker, Anni P. American Soldiers Overseas: The Global Military Presence. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.
Survey of the US base deployments provides background material and insights into social interactions between soldiers and host countries. Detailed on the US presence in the former West Germany.
Calder, Kent. Embattled Garrisons: Base Politics and American Globalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.
Charts the origins and evolution of the US basing system and advances a typology of four different types of bilateral relations or “base politics” between the sending and host country: fiat, bazaar, compensation, and affective relations. Particularly strong on the Japanese and Korean cases, analyzing the thorny issue of “host-nation support” or cost-sharing for the US basing presence.
Cooley, Alexander. Base Politics: Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.
Focuses on the varying domestic political reactions to US bases, particularly during turbulent democratic transitions in host countries. The case chapters are paired comparisons between East Asian and southern European base hosts, including a chapter on the triangular politics in the island hosts of the Azores and Okinawa, with a final chapter on the political dynamics of the new US bases in Central Asia and the Black Sea.
Duke, Simon. United States Forces and Military Installations in Europe. Stockholm: SIPRI and Oxford University Press, 1989.
The definitive source on US military facilities in Europe. For each European country, Duke catalogues each installation and also provides the broad political history of the US presence. Clearly drafted, original maps.
Harkavy, Robert. Bases Abroad: The Global Foreign Military Presence. New York: SIPRI and Oxford University Press, 1989.
The follow-up to Harkavy’s 1982 volume Great Power Competition for Overseas Bases (New York: Pergamon), this volume provides the definitive inventory of US (and Soviet) installations abroad and discusses their functions and Cold War strategic rationale. Also contains an invaluable chapter that shows the close connection between US security assistance programs and the granting of basing rights.
Sandars, Christopher T. America’s Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
A broad but often nuanced political history of the evolution of the US basing system across the globe, which emphasizes the various bargains that the United States has reached with hosts to station its forces. Mostly drawing on secondary sources and leaders’ memoirs, Sandars’s survey is strongest in discussing the Mediterranean cases (Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey).
Smith, Sheila A. Shifting Terrain: the Domestic Politics of the U.S. Military Presence in Asia. East-West Center Special Reports 8. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2006.
A first-rate project, comprising several essays and case studies, that examines the mounting domestic political pressures confronting the US military presence across Asia. Smith’s volume draws on wealth of domestic interviews, useful data, and the involvement of respected scholars with detailed knowledge of the Japan, Korean, and Philippine cases. The project’s introduction is available online.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions and individuals. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics