Why does the US have 800 military bases around the world?

“Early in the history of warfare, man
learned that the best formula for victory was compounded in striking power,
mobility, and self-protection.” The US is easily the most powerful
country to have ever existed. And it certainly spends more on its
military budget and any other country does today. That’s all pretty well-known, but less well-known is the fact that the
US has around 800 military bases around the globe. This map can’t even show that many dots. These are just 200 or so dots to give you
an idea of where these bases are clustered. These bases are everything from massive military compounds to small airstrips in the middle of the ocean. If you combined all the foreign bases that every other nation has outside of its own borders, you get a total of about thirty. There’s never been a country with such a massive global presence. And the big question is: how did these bases
get there the first place? And how much is it costing US taxpayers
to keep them open? Most to these bases cropped up after
WWII, when the US set up in places like Germany and Japan to help maintain peace, after an era of intense global war. “But we cannot expect these people to
discard Nazi ideas with the casual air with which they
abandoned their uniform. Slowly, steadily. they must be taught the
fundamentals of democracy. Our task is to supervise this training in
democracy.” Even though these countries are now stable, robust democracies, and allies, US still has 50,000 troops in
Japan and 54,000 in Germany. The Korean War brought an influx of American military infrastructure to the Korean Peninsula, where we now have 28,500 troops
stationed. The Cold War made the US expansion
to every corner of the globe imperative to US strategic goals. “Here, in Russia, you see the reason why we are spending billions of dollars in military production and why your family is paying the highest taxes in our history.” But even now that the Cold War’s over there’s not a place on Earth that’s not still
covered by US military influence. This includes everything from naval
compounds like those in Guantanamo Bay, to small drone
bases like those in the Horn of Africa, to little-known posts in the middle and
the Indian Ocean like that of Diego Garcia. And it’s not cheap. Keeping the US
foreign bases open, costs taxpayers between 70 and 100
billion dollars per year. That’s more than any other government
agency receives in taxpayer money, besides of course the
Department of Defense itself. Taxpayers pay between ten and forty thousand dollars more per soldier stationed abroad than they do for those stationed here
domestically. But this cost seems to be worth it to most lawmakers. The idea that US military leadership
provides an indispensable stability to the globe is now a fixture of our global strategy
and our foreign policy. “In an uncertain world full of breathtaking
change, the one constant is American leadership.” “You can’t have stability without American
leadership there’s only one nation in the world capable of rallying the freedom-loving people
of this planet to confront evil.” “American leadership is not just
respected it is required.” So over the past seven years the
US has set up bases all over the world in response to
threats and then they just never left. These eight hundred bases around the
world represent a massive system of military power that isn’t often talked
about, and it’s us, the American taxpayers, that are
financially supporting this. We’ve all decided that it’s worth it to
pump a hundred billion dollars out of our economy, to keep these bases open on
the far corners of our globe.

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