Base Politics Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas

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					on contentious politics and civil society—state relations                   To explain whether bases in foreign nations will be
should critically examine the role of such tools as land                 accepted, politicized, contested, or ignored, Alexander
expropriation, the closing of access points to political                 Cooley focuses on the role of two domestic political fac-
challengers, the provision of incentives, and public rela-               tors: the regime’s political dependence on the security con-
tions campaigns.                                                         tract with the United States and the contractual credibility
   I very much appreciate Cooley’s review, which has raised              of the nation’s political institutions. Where both factors
important issues for future research and allowed me to                   are high, he predicts that foreign governments will accept
further explain the findings of my study.                                 U.S. military bases; where they are both low, political elites
                                                                         contest bases. High credibility combined with low depen-
Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S.                            dence results in indifference, while low credibility with
Military Overseas. By Alexander Cooley. Ithaca, NY: Cornell              high dependence creates politicized base politics. The con-
University Press, 2008. 321p. $29.95.                                    ditions within a nation can shift over time; in the Philip-
doi:10.1017/S1537592709090987                                            pines, for example, the issue of bases moved from accepted
                                — Daniel P. Aldrich, Purdue University
                                                                         in the 1960s (under U.S. occupation) to politicized in the
                                                                         late 1960s, then to contested in the late 1980s, with accep-
On September 5, 1995, three United States military per-                  tance coming after 2000 (p. 90). South Korean base pol-
sonnel abducted and raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl on                    itics evolved through the same pattern between 1946 and
Okinawa, an island in the Pacific that houses roughly 75%                 2007 (p. 135), while Japanese politics has stayed mostly
of the U.S. military facilities in Japan. After a month and              within the accepted and depoliticized categories because
a half of smaller rallies, more than 85,000 demonstrators                of the high credibility of its institutions since the occupa-
gathered in late October that year to protest not only the               tion that followed World War II.
crime itself but also the presence of the U.S. bases on this                A core message of this book is that contestation against
string of islands that sit a thousand miles south of main-               and evictions of U.S. bases have “little to do with the con-
land Japan. Despite the enormous tragedy of this inci-                   duct or policy of the United States” (p. xii); rather, “[i]nter-
dent, the widespread international attention it received,                nal, not external, political calculations drove the changing
and the Okinawan governor’s refusal afterwards to renew                  politics of the base issue” (p. 256). While calamities such as
land to the bases, more than 48,000 U.S. military person-                the rape case in Okinawa and the cable car incident in Italy
nel, their dependents, and civilians remain today on the                 anger local residents, they have little impact on broader pol-
island, which is roughly the size of Los Angeles. Tragedies              icy in nations where base issues have been depoliticized.
at other U.S. bases overseas have similarly not altered the                 Cooley proposes three hypotheses linking base politics
bilateral contracts with the host nation. In 1998, for exam-             to domestic political institutions and finds strong evidence
ple, a marine airplane accidentally severed a ski-lift cable             to support them. First, authoritarian hosts use U.S. mili-
for a gondola in Cavalese, Italy, killing all 20 passengers              tary bases to extract private goods from the American gov-
aboard, but this incident did not negatively impact the                  ernment and will support bases in their countries only when
presence of the U.S. military in that nation.                            they calculate that the gains from doing so offset any costs
   Yet only a few years earlier in 1990, Philippines Presi-              (p. 23). Francisco Franco, Islam Karimov, Park Chung Hee,
dent Corazon (Cory) Aquino completed negotiations that                   Ferdinand Marcos, and Chun Doo Hwan partially popu-
required all U.S. forces to pull out of that nation within a             late the long list of autocrats who leveraged rent, legiti-
year (although the actual withdrawal was not completed                   macy, and private goods from the presence of U.S. bases in
until November 1992). There had been no well-publicized                  their nations. Along the way, as Cooley points out, the United
crimes committed by U.S. personnel, nor were there strong                States government has regularly sacrificed official norms and
strands of anti-Americanism among nearby residents. Fur-                 values—democracy and human rights among others—
ther, the United States had maintained a military presence               when maintaining relationships with such dictators in order
in the Philippines since soon after World War II. In 2005,               to keep bases abroad. Second, democratizing regimes dem-
American forces were evicted from Uzbekistan despite the                 onstrate low contractual credibility because “deals were ini-
absence of any major international incidents. What forced                tially signed with authoritarian rulers and never ratified by
Americans out of Subic Bay and Uzbekistan, but kept                      democratic institutions” (p. 251), and therefore new deci-
them in Okinawa and Italy? This well-written, extensively                sion makers in these regimes regularly contest bilateral con-
researched book focuses on the conditions under which                    tracts. Cases of such base politics include post-Marcos
host nations contest or honor U.S. military base agree-                  Philippines, Spain, Korea, and Turkey. Finally, consoli-
ments. Given the current North American military pres-                   dated democracies, such as mainland Japan, Italy, and Brit-
ence in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the book provides                     ain, maintain prevailing bilateral contracts despite incidents
some uncomfortable predictions for planners hoping to                    that inflame tensions between countries.
both democratize these nations and maintain U.S. mili-                      Cooley raises four alternative hypotheses to his theory
tary bases in them.                                                      of the interaction between dependency and credibility that

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Critical Dialogues

often are used to explain “base politics” around the world.      owners whose land has been used for the bases (p. 159), in
Those alternatives include realist theories about external       much the same way that it does for hosts of nuclear power
threat levels, the size of the base and the number of troops     plants throughout the nation.
stationed there, the functions and use of the base, and              With approximately eight hundred overseas military
social characteristics such as anti-Americanism and a polit-     bases, the United States has been accused of engaging in a
ical culture. He dismisses these theories as unable to sys-      quiet new “American Empire” based on these holdings,
tematically account for patterns of contestation and             which regularly involve a waiving of local rules for mili-
acceptance abroad (pp. 255–62).                                  tary personnel accused of crimes and de facto extrater-
   As evidence, Cooley uses case studies of U.S. military        ritoriality. But more importantly for students of current
bases in the Azores, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Turkey, main-       American foreign policy, Cooley argues that “[a]fter top-
land Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and the Philippines. Some            pling the regime of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. military
scholars may be surprised that he separates his studies of       may well be ousted by the very democratic institutions
the island bases on Okinawa and the Azores from the              and competitive processes that it helped to install” (p. 270).
cases involving the mainlands of Japan and Portugal, but         More specifically, because he finds evidence that basing
his explanation of the qualitatively “different political log-   contracts sealed before periods of democratization are pre-
ics and institutional changes [that] have driven the base        cisely the agreements most likely to be contested, the push
issue” in these archipelagos (p. 55) resonates with past         for democratization may jeopardize the ability of the United
research. During his case studies, he also briefly mentions       States to maintain a troop presence there (p. 248).
a number of other examples, including Greece, Thailand,              This fascinating study raises a number of questions that
Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. He justifies his case selection       bear further scrutiny. First, although the author focuses
by arguing that these nations were the recipients of the         on contestation against the presence of U.S. military bases,
heaviest deployments, that this cross section controls for       is contestation itself an important outcome to be explained
regional peculiarities, and that these cases involve varia-      by theory, or should our focus instead be on expulsion?
tion in both timing and sequence (pp. 50–54). His research       Expulsion may serve as a better signal of domestic politi-
is based not only on archival work but also on numerous          cal conditions, while contestation may arise from unpre-
interviews with relevant parties, including U.S. military        dictable accidents and crimes and therefore shorter time
bureaucrats, local politicians, journalists, and anti-base       horizons for involved parties.
activists in the host nations under study.                           Next, despite the subtitle of the book, which indicates a
   Cooley rightly envisions U.S. military installations as       primary focus on U.S. garrisons, Cooley raises the issue of
potential “public bads,” that is, facilities that generate       applying his domestic-politics-based theory of base poli-
focused externalities on local communities but provide           tics to other nations with bases overseas, including Brit-
diffuse benefits to the larger population. He points out          ain, France, and Russia (p. 262). While this comparative
that, where possible, planners site bases in relatively iso-     application section is quite brief, he seems confident that
lated locations far from densely populated urban areas           his findings would apply to the military garrisons of these
(p. 111), presumably due to the noise, crime, and pollu-         nations as well. But Kent Calder in Embattled Garrisons:
tion that result from the U.S. military presence. Both Spain     Comparative Base Politics and American Globalism (2007)
and Greece, for example, insisted that bases in Torrejón         finds that the democratization hypothesis—which he sub-
and Hellenikon, respectively, “be closed and remaining           sumes under the “regime shift” hypothesis—does not fully
U.S. forces be moved to more remote locations” (p. 35).          explain the variation in non-U.S. military base cases. A
As James Q. Wilson argued in The Politics of Regulation          regime shift, according to Calder, results in an 80% chance
(1980), bases are an example of projects that “confer gen-       that foreign forces will withdraw—and he includes pop-
eral (though perhaps small) benefits at a cost to be borne        ulist military coups and decolonization along with democ-
chiefly by a small segment of society,” and in handling the       ratization in the category of regime shifts. Calder argues
often deep-rooted resistance to them, decision makers            that population density (that is, military contact with local
moved away from coercive strategies, such as land expro-         civilians), a history of colonization, and alliance politics
priation and threats, to build more varied toolkits. Cooley      are also critical factors in predicting base closures. While
illuminates the variety of “soft” policy tools used not only     domestic politics are critical factors in many cases, they
by host nations but also by the U.S. military in attempts        may not be necessary and sufficient variables for explain-
at creating compliance in resistant communities. North           ing change in all cases.
American planners created myriad tools, including aid guar-          Is the “dependence” ascribed by Cooley as one of the
antees, promises of economic development, jobs and               two core domestic political variables an economic factor
employment, fuel contracts, military hardware, export cred-      or a political one? On page 20, for example, he refer-
its, and debt write-offs. The Japanese government simi-          ences “economically dependent authoritarian regimes,”
larly targets compensation and burden payments to                while on page 268 he refers more typically to the “Iraq
Okinawan residents, many of whom are farmers or land-            state’s dependence on the presence of U.S. forces for

390 Perspectives on Politics
security.” In other cases, as in his description of Marcos,      gyzstan), as well as De Gaulle’s nationalist postelection
this relationship seems more focused on legitimacy and           ouster of U.S. forces in 1966.
international recognition.                                          Focusing on both expulsion and contestation out-
   Do all of his cases fit well within the categories assigned    comes, however, risks a more important selection bias.
to them? Okinawa after 1972, for example, does not seem          Base Politics seeks to explain varying periods of contesta-
to rest well within the categories of “high dependence on        tion as well as depoliticization of the U.S. military pres-
security contract” with “low contractual credibility of polit-   ence in host countries. Why are U.S. military bases a salient
ical institutions.” In what ways did the island of Okinawa       political issue in some countries and eras, but not in others?
have need for the protection of the United States during            Indeed, the more damaging blow to the broader “regime
this period?                                                     change” hypothesis is that in nearly all U.S. base hosts
   Finally, has Cooley selected a wide enough variety of         that are consolidated democracies, the status of U.S. bas-
cases from which he can draw accurate conclusions? For           ing agreements has remained depoliticized despite regular
example Morocco, France, Libya, Taiwan, South Viet-              regime turnover and even acute security policy disagree-
nam, Ethiopia, and Libya all closed U.S. bases since the         ments with the United States. After host countries demo-
end of World War II, while Denmark and Iceland have              cratically ratify basing accords, they acquire legitimacy that
rejected U.S. bases, and the navy gunnery base on Vieques,       is difficult to challenge on procedural grounds when a
Puerto Rico, was shut down due to the pressure of citizens       new political party assumes power. For example, Spain’s
and nongovernmental organizations. Does Cooley’s theory          Socialist Party in the early 1980s confronted the U.S. bases
of domestic politics successfully predict the outcomes of        in Spain as “public bads” and demanded their removal.
most of these cases?                                             That same party 20 years later comfortably refers to these
   Base Politics is necessary reading not only for scholars of   same facilities as “democratic commitments,” even when
international relations and comparative politics but also        used for unpopular purposes, such as the war in Iraq or
for decision makers and military planners. It sheds new          the enabling of CIA rendition flights. For many U.S. allies,
light on the intersection of regime shift with basing con-       despite the best efforts of anti-base activists and populist
tracts and opens our eyes to the often internally conflicted      politicians, the once public-bad character of the basing
drives of American foreign policy. On the basis of Cooley’s      issue has now morphed into public indifference.
book, the future of newly placed American bases in the              When we take into account this full range of possible
Middle East and Eurasia may be a short one indeed.               “base politics” outcomes, the theory has considerable pre-
                                                                 dictive range across many of the non-U.S. cases that Ald-
Response to Daniel P. Aldrich’s review of Base                   rich mentions. Many Francophone African regimes (e.g.,
Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military                Chad, the Central African Republic, Djibouti, Gabon,
Overseas                                                         Senegal) welcomed a postcolonial French basing presence
doi:10.1017/S1537592709090999                                    in order to acquire economic concessions and ensure their
                                            — Alexander Cooley
                                                                 own survival against external and internal threats. The
                                                                 British endured postindependence democratizing pres-
I am pleased to comment on the important issues that             sures before withdrawing their bases from Iraq, Jordan,
Daniel Aldrich raises in his thoughtful review.                  and Malaysia and now principally base in overseas terri-
   Aldrich asks whether the base expulsion cases are ana-        tories and dependencies (such as Bermuda, Gibraltar, and
lytically more important than cases where host countries         Ascension Island), not independent countries (in fact, the
merely contest basing agreements. But contestation can           bases in Cyprus are strictly sovereign UK territory, not
be practically significant in its own right when it leads to      leases). Finally, the Georgian parliament’s expulsion of Rus-
the renegotiation of aspects of basing agreements such as        sian bases in 2004 after the Rose Revolution and the cur-
the Status of Forces Agreements, sovereign rights, or com-       rent contestation of the terms of the Russian Black Sea
pensation packages. Base-related incidents, by themselves,       fleet in Sevastopol by pro-Western Ukrainian elites sug-
usually do not trigger the contestation of basing agree-         gest that similar domestic political processes are now
ments unless they occur in the midst of an ongoing anti-         informing some of the post-Soviet states’ changing polit-
base campaign.                                                   ical attitudes toward hosting Russian military facilities.
   Aldrich also wonders whether broader regime change,              The types of dependence that host country rulers have
as opposed to democratic transition, offers a better expla-      developed on basing agreements have varied with the
nation for certain expulsion cases. Certainly, among the         requirements of their particular regime-survival strategies.
three main causal mechanisms that are responsible for polit-     Some authoritarian rulers, such as Francisco Franco, Park
icizing basing issues—procedural legitimacy, domestic juris-     Chung Hee, or Islam Karimov, prized the international
dictional competition, and political party competition—          legitimacy that the U.S. presence bestowed on their repres-
some were evident during the initial stages of certain           sive domestic regimes, while others, such as Adnan Men-
authoritarian regime changes (Ethiopia, Libya, Kyr-              deres, Ferdinand Marcos, and Askar Akayev, used the basing

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