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Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases…

Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Overseas Harm America and the World

by David Vine

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an impressive book, and although Vine's perspective is clear, there's also a careful and constant effort to show the issues objectively and with an eye to what needs to be considered when talking about closing or expanding bases, changing policy, or maintaining the status quo.

First, it's important to note that the research isn't just extensive, but presented clearly and without bias; Vine is open about the things which can't be known for sure, and about the biases felt on various sides of the issue. Where interviews are presented, there's an effort to read between the lines while being true to the nature of each interviewee's response, and attention paid to context and background. Importantly, there are interviews with military officials, American and foreign officials/politicians, average military men and women, and also non-military citizens of foreign countries who live around and work in American bases. At all moments, Vine goes out of his way to show multiple sides of a particular corner of the debate about American bases, and although the statistics and titles are sometimes overwhelming as a reader attempts to take them in (because the numbers and stats are, truly, astounding), everything is presented in such a way that a reader feels as if they're being shown the facts and offered a choice, rather than told what to think.

In truth, the greatest failing of the book may be its title, which gives the impression that the book is far more biased and argumentative than it actually is.

For me, many moments in the book were gut-wrenching, to where I literally felt sick to my stomach--and I'm not sure I can say that this happened to such an extent for any book I've read in the past. Much as I've read about history and politics, and despite the fact that have a graduate degree, much of the history surrounding American bases was new to me, and Vine presents the history in such a plain and straightforward fashion that I had a hard time not being horrified, over and over again. Certainly, other readers won't find as much to surprise them. My husband, who was a history major, was rarely even surprised by some of the things I felt a need to repeat to him; yet, I feel fairly sure that a lot of Americans know about what I did about this issue and the debate surrounding American bases, if not less. Personally, I wish every American would read this book; I'm sure not everyone would come out on the same side of the issue, which is a testament to Vine's careful work here, but the book has such import that it's hard to believe it hasn't gotten more attention, so far as I'm concerned.

If you have an interest in America's bases and/or well-being, or in America's foreign policy or domestic progress, I have to think that you'd find the book worth reading. Obviously, I absolutely recommend it. ( )
1 vote whitewavedarling | Oct 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
David Vine puts forth an interesting and convincing study concerning g the growing social, capital, and political costs of American military investment overseas. The United States blankets the globe with its military presence, a cumbersome relic of WWII and the Cold War. The cost of these bases is growing and it is growing unnoticed by the American population footing the bill. Vine looks at the recent history of American base culture as well as breaking down the costs of maintaining an obsolete and ineffective network of military footholds in foreign countries.
Vine has put together a solid case with strong documentary evidence, access to available budget records, and on-site reporting. His arguments are solid and well-developed though at times it does feel like he is reaching somewhat to make some of his more unique critiques of base culture. His overall position is sound and hard to debate fully. The book looks over the last 60 years of American base culture with evenly distributed attention to each major development in the military foreign presence time frame. The evidence, either due to its classification or the recent developments, is weakest for the last decade but the patterns Vine identifies hold up nevertheless. A strong read that raises more questions than answers. In this case, it is a good thing and American citizens should be directing those questions to our leaders. ( )
  loafhunter13 | Jul 7, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
David Vine has crafted an indispensible study for our time. As we move further and further away from the post WWII Pax Americana, the United States continues to occupy a global network of military bases that dwarfs all other nations combined. Even with this fact, or perhaps because of it, little or no discussion of this reality occurs in our popular media. I grew up in a forward based military family and have visited many of the bases discussed in Vine's book. From Okinawa and Iwakuni in Japan, to Guam, to still numerous bases in Germany, to Western Australia, to Djibouti, and on and on US forces are forwardly deployed in a manner that purports to keep America safe. Or instead are these military installations the proof of a 21st century Imperial United States? Vine argues that the United States is somewhere in between the poles of imperial power and international cop and that neither possibility bodes well for America or the globe. Vine's research impels us as global citizens to do our part and consider America's place in the world. Where does diplomacy end and antagonism begin? ( )
1 vote greggchadwick | Dec 19, 2015 |
Whether it’s because of the “Little America” effect that displaces local populations, the rise in sex trafficking in their vicinity, or the evocation of Cold War (lack of) diplomacy, David Vine argues that U.S. military bases abroad have long ago fulfilled their purpose and ought to be shuttered. In Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, Vine compiles evidence that our bases on foreign soil cost us too much money, provide little in the way of strategic or security payoff, and all too often do damage to rather than enhance our relationships with the country in which the base is sited (for example, the spate of sexual assaults near the U.S. base in Okinawa, which outraged our ally, Japan). Vine thinks and argues clearly for a vision of American security that doesn’t involve occupying the territory of our allies.

(Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com) ( )
2 vote KelMunger | Oct 20, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a difficult book to read because one does not like to learn or to be reminded that the approximately 800 American military installations outside the United States cause so much environmental damage, so much displacement of people, so much harm to the people who remain near them (and especially sexual harm), result in so much crime, support so many dubious foreign governments, do so little to improve the security of the United States, cause so much enmity toward the United States and, above all, waste so much public money. David Vine has studied the issue for years. His case against such a huge American military presence overseas is compelling in its many-faceted structure, although it is not always tightly reasoned. Concerned citizens should read the book, but no one should expect a fun read. ( )
2 vote Illiniguy71 | Aug 18, 2015 |
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More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. still stations its troops at nearly a thousand locations in foreign lands. These bases are usually taken for granted or overlooked entirely, a little-noticed part of the Pentagon's vast operations. Vine shows that the worldwide network of bases brings with it a panoply of ills-- and actually makes the nation less safe in the long run-- in this far-reaching examination of the perils of American military bases overseas.… (more)

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