With 750 military bases in 80 countries, the US still remains a threat to global peace

A US military plane
Support us and go ad-free

The Afghan war may be over, but the vast global network of US military bases still threatens peace, an American think tank has warned. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI) has published a report on the 750 remaining US military bases in 80 countries.

Its report comes as the US is undertaking a Global Posture Review. The review will examine the US military footprint around the world. And QI said this is a chance to close down bases. Given the cost and the fact many bases are in authoritarian and undemocratic states, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

Expensive and destabilising

The report contains some astonishing statistics on US military installations, including that:

  • “The United States has at least three times as many overseas bases as all other countries combined”.
  • “U.S. bases abroad cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion annually”.
  • “The United States has nearly three times as many military bases abroad… as U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions”.
  • “Bases abroad have helped the United States launch wars and other combat operations in at least 25 countries since 2001”.
  • “U.S. installations are found in at least 38 non-democratic countries and colonies”.

But it also noted that a full list hasn’t been published by the Pentagon since fiscal year 2018.

When is a base a base?

The authors acknowledge that some bases might not even be counted as bases. They say the Pentagon is wary of how a military presence is defined:

Frequently the Pentagon and U.S. government, as well as host nations, seek to portray a U.S. base presence as “not a U.S. base” to avoid the perception that the United States is infringing on host nation sovereignty (which, in fact, it is).

Closer to home

QI’s breakdown showed that many US bases are in Global South countries. And many of these have authoritarian governments. But European countries are also colonised by the American military, including the UK. This week saw the family of a teenager killed by a US citizen working on a military base reach a resolution a civil claim.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed after being struck by a car in 2019. Anne Sacoolas, allegedly an intelligence officer for the US government, claimed diplomatic immunity and fled to the US. Sacoolas may have been working at RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire. Despite the name, RAF Croughton is a US spy base.


QI says closing bases is politically possible. They say that recent presidents from Bill Clinton though to Donald Trump all closed bases around the world regularly. There’s nothing to stop Biden, who has pledged to reset US foreign policy, doing the same.

It said the review meant there was a “historic opportunity” to reduce the US military footprint, saving taxpayer cash and improving “national and international security in the process”.

And QI has a point. Closing bases is a good idea in economic, political, and moral terms. The question is, will the new administration muster the political will to do so?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/ Sgt Chris Stone

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Part of the cost of maintaining these bases overseas are the base shopping malls, golf courses, bowling alleys, and on base clubs etc. that have to be staffed and maintained, all at the tax payers expense. It was the fact that Americans were living and consuming alcohol on bases in Saudi Arabia, where the drinking liqueur is forbidden under their Muslim laws, that inspired Osama bin Laden to act to convince the US to close the bases there. The end result was 9/11.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.