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Very, very few things take higher precedence in debate than knowing the resolution well. We may as well start off the season with a brief look at US global military bases. Take dutiful notes—the basics can help you win rounds.

It seemed reasonable to start off with the number of the United States’ overseas bases. This would prove far easier if anyone actually knew how many bases the US has. According to an article published by Nick Turse in the Asia Times, not even the Pentagon has a certain number. Turse says that we certainly have more than 1,000, but beyond that, no one knows for sure.

So let’s start somewhere smaller. What countries do we actually have bases in? We have the obvious ones: Afghanistan, South Korea, Israel, and Japan. But let’s not forget Kosovo, Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Brazil, Cuba, Guam, Djibouti, Spain, United Arab Emirates…and the list goes on. There is no use in trying to pretend: you will not find it easy to get a good grasp on all of these countries and the state of the US’ bases in them. Perhaps starting off with a briefer glance at the most well-known would help.

We have several bases in South Korea—navy, army, marines, and air force. It’s not exactly clear how many troops we do have in the country right now, but we are not supposed to have any more than 28,500. The South Korean administration has certainly expressed desire for US presence. The general populace, however, has raised several objections. Residents of Pyeongtaek (home to many of our troops) resisted a local base because of the crime, noise, and danger associated with such circumstances. Because of the overwhelming power of the US and South Korean governments, however, a large part of our army resides in Pyeongtaek’s Camp Humphreys.

Israel, of course, hosts a couple US bases. They also use a lot of our products and weapons. Different policy analysts have differing opinions about how smart it is for us to have so much involvement with Israel. To be certain, they are allies and we have several commitments to them. However, it is important to realize how the rest of the world views said commitments and what actions result. For instance, Iran has made it quite clear that if Israel attacks them, Iran would have no qualms about attacking American bases in Israel. Considering how much Israel hates Iran and the fact that the latter would probably hold out better in a war, the United States must deeply consider such threats.

America’s air force has quite a foundation in Afghanistan. We also have a couple Marine Corp and joint military bases here. Of course, the US’ military past with Afghanistan is complicated and touchy. It’s always dangerous to position oneself in a Middle Eastern country—especially one that has spun so out of control in the past. President Obama has removed several troops from the country. Policy experts recommend polar opposites as far as US troops in Afghanistan: some say all of them should pull out whereas others advise more intense missions in the region. Combat has dwindled at these bases and now the US is focusing more on humanitarian and preventative measures.

The United States Forces Japan refers to the various divisions of the United States Armed Forces that are stationed in Japan. Many people may not know that under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, the US is obliged to defend and cooperate with Japan. Reading this treaty would greatly benefit the Stoa debater in this upcoming season. There’s something in it for everyone’s interests: maritime defense, air control, missiles, and disaster control. Many citizens in Japan want American presence to decrease, even though close to three quarters appreciate it. The remaining quarter’s views are understandable, though, considering some US bases are located in residential areas and have been accused of crimes against citizens. Check out the fairly large numbers of Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army bases the US has in Japan to get a better idea of the current situation.

Of course, there is so much more background out there. It will be impossible to read all of it, but all debaters (especially those not well-versed on military terms) should try to grow as familiar as possible with the topic at hand. Situations are touchy, bases are many, and results are vague. Reading and analyzing our country and developing one’s own thought process and views will produce the best outcomes in such a broad and complicated area of debate.

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