In September 2009, the United States Department of Defense managed 716 overseas military bases and cooperative operations. This volume in Greenhaven’s At Issue Rapid Resource series is not limited to size, logistics, political motivations, or long-term consequence of the almost one and a half million service men and women who are veterans of the current conflict, instead seeing those theaters as a single facet of the U.S. military’s ongoing worldwide presence.
The book has three chief areas, which challenge and defend the modern-day overseas military presence, describe the current conflict areas with reasons to support or abandon occupation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and anticipate potential southeast Asian flash points, with point and counter-point about the effect of the ongoing U.S. presence in Japan and South Korea. Taken as a whole, the collection of writing depicts a colonial empire, strategically ringing the globe, whether a protectionist relic or a necessary defense.
Each essay in the volume starts with an introductory passage emphasizing the writer’s viewpoint and main ideas. The chapters are drawn from popular publications, scholarly periodicals, newspapers, and policy briefs. Most pieces are paired with a counterpoint, typically juxtaposing the necessity for an overseas presence with a non-interventionist argument. The strong and unambiguous rhetoric will be accessible to students as will the palpable accounts of resentment in countries with a U.S. military presence, particularly with regard to the behavior of the infamous marines stationed at Okinawa. Two essays touch upon the negotiated understanding between military police and local law enforcement that causes some residents to resent the U.S. enlisted men.
One of the nicest features is the more than four pages of pithy statistical information about U.S. military deployment as of September 2009. There are pertinent political maps throughout, as well as graphs illustrating the number of bases in each county and charting public opinion. The global scope of the U.S. military presence in particular countries is represented numerically, but those figures do call out for a cartographic representation. There is an extensive bibliography of books, print and online periodicals, well-annotated organizational information, and a comprehensive index.
Whether the outcry for smaller government will result in a contraction of the overseas military presence or not, this book seems a needed update to an issue with which each successive generation has grappled since the Monroe Doctrine — the right of the United States to intercede in the affairs of other nations. Recommended for school libraries and especially for public libraries serving military populations.