Monday, November 9, 2009


I often wonder about the usefulness of any given military base. One good example of this is the massive base in Okinawa. It is tremendously unpopular with the people of Okinawa, who have fairly consistently asked for the US to leave. (At the same time, it seems pretty clear that the Okinawans want the Japanese out, despite being legally part of Japan.) From any kind of liberal democratic standpoint, maintaining the base there against the wishes of the inhabitants screams colonialism, even if it is abetted by the "national" government (that many Okinawans also do not recognize).

This seems like one of the most controversial ones, though, because Okinawa occupies a particularly useful position in the area. It's halfway between Japan proper and Taiwan, and helps to solidify the first "band" of islands around the Chinese waters. If one was at all worried about trouble with China, it would be the most logical place to have a base. Japan knows this as well, and wants to keep the US troops where they are.

I do not really have an answer to this, except to keep in mind that these are actual competing claims on the national interest, and probably should not be swept under the rug. However, due to the assorted other bases this would have implications for (including Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean), I don't see any real accounting for this happening any time in the near future.

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