US military bases jostle around the world


In late July, the command of US forces in Japan under public pressure, announced about return of 4 thousand hectares on the island of Okinawa to the state’s authorities, which for decades were mounted by the US military base. However, not only the Japanese are opposed to the US military presence on its territory, US military bases are threatened in different parts of the world.




American troops were deployed in Japan under an agreement in 1960 on cooperation and security assurances, concluded between Washington and Tokyo. This agreement caused discontent among Japanese before, but now the protests intensified as never before. According to the Japanese, the American presence puts Japan which claims now to be one of the dominant countries, in the humiliating position. Particularly negative are Okinawa Prefecture residents, on whose territory concentrated 74% of US military bases. According to local residents, American bases are the cause of economic backwardness, poor living conditions and the increase of crime level in Okinawa.


Americans put the Japanese in a fume


For example, Futenma base, located in Okinawa, is considered as the most dangerous in the world because it is located very tightly to the houses. At that, takeoff and landing runway are located directly between the quarters. Everyday military aircrafts and helicopters are making noise and polluting the environment. In addition, local residents have repeatedly said that American soldiers are behaving improperly – kicking up rows and violating laws. Anti-American sentiment in the country have increased dramatically since 1997, when soldiers kidnapped and raped a local schoolgirl, which is why the whole country was in protest. Once again, the problem has become urgent in May this year, when Japanese police arrested a 32-year-old American Kenneth Franklin in suspect of murdering 20-year-old Japanese Rina Shimabukuro, whose body was found in the forest. A few weeks later on the island there was an accident involving 21-year-old serving for US Navy – drunk she drove into the oncoming lane and collided with two cars. These two incidents led to protests among the people of Okinawa and exacerbated the problem of the US military presence. As a result, the command of US forces in Japan, imposed a curfew and prohibition for all military and civilian employees of the US bases. However, it seems, that wasn’t enough to the Japanese, and the decision on the transfer of the territory under the control of Tokyo, was adopted explicitly by force, could be considered as a serious weakening of Washington’s position. 


The Germans don’t want to endure Ramstein


Almost at the same time it was reported that in Germany, several thousand protesters surrounded the Ramstein military base, where were stationed the US Air Force. The participants protested against military air operations that was carried out by the Pentagon. According to organizers of the protest, actions such as data transfer from American drones to other states, violate Germany’s constitution. It’s about the use of drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Quite a powerful social movement “Stop Ramstein!” have gathered; the number of supporters includes representatives of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, the deputies of the Bundestag from the Left parties, as well as members of pacifist international organizations.


The Turks responded with fire


But it seems that the most serious problems have arisen in Turkey. Several years ago, the Turkish authorities allowed the US Air Force to use Incirlik airbase for their own purposes. According to several sources, US nuclear arsenal is located there. However, despite the importance of this military facility for NATO, Turkey’s government have repeatedly closed the sky over the airbase and even threatened with Turkey’s withdrawal from the alliance.


Strong pressure on the military, which are based on there, began after the end of the military suppression of the coup, President Erdogan has officially declared that “the rebels received the commands from the United States”. As a result, near the base of Incirlik began protests against the US presence in Turkey. The crowd of demonstrators openly accused Washington of involvement in the might-military coup in Turkey and demanded the closure of the base. Shortly thereafter, the Turkish military surrounded the Incirlik under the pretext of “security check”, thereby causing further aggravating of the situation. 


Alexander Perendzhiev, an expert of the Association of Military Political Scientists


Today, many states, including those where the US military bases locate, have entered into a protracted crisis. And some political forces in some of those countries are skillfully using the presence factor. Thus, the American bases were unwittingly involved in a political movement. In addition, the authorities themselves and the countries where the US military bases are located, recently see them as a force capable to influence on the political process, and the threat to themselves, so perhaps in the near future will insist on reducing the US military presence.