Monday, February 01, 2010

For Whom Is This Not a Win-Win?

Like most people, I knew the US has military people stationed in Japan. But -- again, perhaps like most people -- I didn't know there were 47,000 of them. That's what, about one-third as many as were squatting on Iraq at the height of the "surge."

Apparently, quite a few Japanese -- "thousands," according to the news story -- are unhappy enough about that to have gotten out and protest-marched over it.

Why in the world are large numbers of American soldiers still occupying Japan, after nearly 65 years? Why should Japanese citizens be bearing this affront? Why should American taxpayers be bearing this expense?

Oh, that's right -- because we're World Manager. No corner of the globe can be left unsupervised by Mordor-on-the-Potomac. And also, lest I forget, because all those "troops" require equipment and supplies. Our merchants of death have their profits to look after.

Imagine living in a sane world, in which we'd say to Japan: Hey, you're right. Every single soldier is on the way home, as of first-of-next-week. If you're interested in the bases and equipment, we'll make you a good deal; otherwise, we'll pack it and ship it. So long, and thanks for all the sushi.

Never happen. Not in my lifetime, anyway.


akaGaGa said...

Well, now I have my Plan D for voting: Jim Wetzel for President! Need a campaign manager? :)

FYI, last year I came across an excellent site that looks at military budgets, with many illuminating charts. My favorite is the map showing countries where the US has a military presence. 700 down. How many left to go?

Harl Delos said...

There are something like 170 US military bases around the world, and only 192 members in the UN.

There's darned little we have where the rest of the world can't compete, and yet instead of selling our military services, we give it away?

It's time to tell the junkies that this pusher's given them enough of a taste of our military power. If they're hooked, they need to pay us. If they aren't, let's pack it up and go home.

Jim Wetzel said...

akaGaGa, you're much too kind. Even assuming, against all evidence, that I had the right ideas, the only way one person could effect real change would be to become some kind of dictator -- which seems, shall we say, somewhat contradictory.

No, I kind of think my fellow Americans actually want the kind of regime we're getting ... or have been made to think they want it, which amounts to the same thing. To override their wishes, by either force or deception, would be wrong. I'd suggest that asking God to send the gift of sanity to our country might be a reasonable Plan D.

Harl: thanks for the comment. I think a fair number of Japanese citizens have probably made it pretty clear that they're not "hooked" on US military power. In general, I take it that the foreigners who do want a US military presence are the ones who are, in some way, propped up thereby. And I really can't see any reason for propping such folks up. At least, no reason that can be discussed openly in polite company.

Dauvit Balfour said...

But if you do win... can I be ambassador to the Vatican?

So what happens if the Japanese say, "Hey, um, yeah, we're, like, tired of you... so... y'know... gtfo." What then? Do we? What if every country wherein we had bases said that?

I was discussing this with a friend of mine last week in the context of Ft. Sumter, and he said what if Germany suddenly decided to seize back American military bases by force, wouldn't we be justified in sending troops to reinforce them (defending Lincoln's sending of troops and supplies to Sumter). My response was, well... no, we wouldn't be justified.

Try imagining a world in which, despite being "at peace" and "allies" with China we still had to tolerate Chinese troops and bases on our land. Or... just imagine if reconstruction was continuing overtly to this day... off-putting? Quite.

Jim Wetzel said...

Ambassador Balfour ... done and done!

I'm just guessing, of course, but I think that's just what most Japanese folk would say, if asked, and exactly what the protesters in the news story are already saying. Still, were I the Great Dictator, I wouldn't condition the departure of the American military on being told to go (after all, what if they said "stay"?). If they didn't tell us to leave, I'd have to politely mention that there'd be some currently-military real estate opening up very soon, and, uh, see you later.

I agree with you re: the hypothetical on bases in Germany. Those shouldn't exist anyway. Rather than wait until they're attacked, which might never happen, we should be pulling out and closing them anyway. More real estate for sale.

Grace Nearing said...

The problems with our base at Okinawa have just been horrendous, from the simply unfortunate -- like the occasional helicopter or jet crashing into residential areas -- to the truly barbaric -- drunk/drugged US military personnel raping and killing Japanese civilians. Chalmers Johnson has done a wonderfully depressing job of documenting the atrocities.