Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant “Little Americas” to small radar facilities. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.
By my calculation, maintaining bases and troops overseas cost $85 to $100 billion in fiscal year 2014; the total with bases and troops in warzones is $160 to $200 billion.
These costs have heightened debate over whether the United States needs so many bases abroad: What effect do they have around the world, and are they really making us safer?
The first step is looking at where U.S. bases are, and where they’re most prevalent. For my forthcoming book, Base Nation, I compiled a near-comprehensive list of overseas U.S. bases, including smaller cooperative security locations (“lily pads”) and suspected but unconfirmed sites (“unconfirmed lily…
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