Foreign military bases chair report
Chair report, Foreign Military Bases, UNODA...
United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
Foreign Military Base Jasper Lim 2012-13
Note: This document serves only as an introduction to the topic.
( A FEW QUOTES TO START WITH )
“One initial consideration is that the functions of many bases cannot be viewed in isolation but rather as part of ‘interlocking regional or global networks where numerous separate elements are needed successfully to perform a mission or continuous operation’.”
Foreign Military Bases are to: “to secure the defence of an alliance of which the host state is a member”
Foreign Military Bases are: “installations whose peacetime purpose is to serve the needs and interests of the user State rather than to assist in the defence of the host State.”
“Today, a base complex is likely to serve both defensive and deterrent purposes.”
“These range, in peacetime, from operational, training and technical purposes – spanning the traditional service lines between the army, navy and air force – to weapon-testing.”
Foreign military bases originated from the construction of the European mercantilist empires and were developed into effective measures maintaining control of different parts of the empires, from trade routes, to safeguard of claimed territories. The two World Wars led to the fall of countless imperial powers, yet brought the world to a bi-polar international political system, in which the struggle between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were to bring a renewed emergence of foreign military presence across the world. Political scientists and historians regarded the act of obtaining and maintaining foreign military presence – in its tangible and physical form as maintaining foreign military bases, as establishing or even expanding a nation’s sphere of influence to the region.
Numerous current foreign military bases are the results of subsequent wars – the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. Also, some foreign military bases have been established as counter-balance policies against the rising influence of a nation state by another nation. A historical example would be the establishment of numerous bases in the Mediterranean region by the USSR during the Cold War. These bases had been utilized to fight small scale proxy wars. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent end of the Cold War, there was a dramatic reduction in the deployment of foreign military bases.
Putting foreign military bases into the context of the current international order, the roles of foreign military presence are not limited to purely military ones. The roles of foreign military presence also include securing trade routes, obtaining intelligence, protecting a nation’s economic interest in the area, delivering humanitarian aids and delivering military supplies etc.
Since 911 and the declaration of the “War on Terror”, a new geostrategic situation has emerged. The United States, as the remaining superpower in the post-Cold War world, claims the right and
responsibility of undertaking actions against terrorism. The emergence of this new doctrine in American foreign policy has a major impact on the deployment of foreign military bases by not only the US, but also Russia, France and the United Kingdom etc.
It is vital to think whether the re-emergence of foreign military presence since 911 has undermined the United Nations and its system of collective security. It is also essential to think whether such doctrine has tangibly threatened the sovereignty of medium and small sized nation states, such Georgia in the Caucasus region.
Questions: (1) How can nations be held accountable for damages, from humanitarian to environmental, related to their foreign military bases? (2) Has your nation been negatively affected by foreign military presence ( by other foreign powers or your foreign military bases in other nations ) ? If yes, to what extent? (3) Has your nation benefited from establishing foreign military presence or having military presence of another nation state within your nation? If yes, to what extent? (4) Does foreign military presence necessarily undermine international security? If yes, how does it do so?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Foreign Military Bases: A close examination of the advantages and the disadvantages of foreign military bases is essential in understanding their current status. On one hand, there are some advantages within using overseas military bases. For example, the US has the military capacity to maintain global security: the US successfully protected civilians in Panama by sending in 27,000 troops in 1998, used limited military tactics to protect civilians in Sarajevo from Bosnian Serb forces (ultimately leading to a peace agreement), and forced Iraqi troops to retreat from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War. Moreover, foreign military bases enhance the ability of intelligence officials to monitor all forms of communications, which allows for the early detection of terrorist activities.
On the other hand though, the construction and maintenance of these facilities can also be viewed as a preparation for war, and thus undermine international peace and security. Even in peacetime, there are unresolved questions concerning the accountability of military forces abroad. Notably, during the Korean War, the United States maintained a robust military presence abroad, in Korea; the Status of Forces Agreement (see below) between the two nations stated that US would enjoy the privilege military impunity. This agreement was put to the test in a controversial case in 2002, when two teenage girls were run over by an American tank; the US subsequently refused to allow the driver of the tank be tried in South Korea and was instead ordered to appear before US military tribunal, where he was found not guilty.
National Sovereignty of the Host Country: The largest complaint of host nations with regards to foreign military bases is the protection of the national sovereignty. Sovereignty is defined as having independent authority over a geographic area. Countries that are strong proponents of overseas military bases stress out the fact that their only intention of maintaining an existing military body in a foreign country is to provide peace and security for those people, but critics point out that in spite of this stated objective, civilians in host countries have, on several occasions, been the victims. One particularly egregious example of this is the previously discussed My Lai Massacre, in which civilians were indiscriminately killed. In other cases, citizens have seen military personnel taking over their farmland; resistance often resulted in imprisonment and torture. The presence of military bases also causes social and environmental problems locally. In certain cases, communities living around these bases experience high rates of rape committed by military soldiers, or are exposed to hazardous substances resulting from the testing of weapons.
UN Involvement: Over the past years, many efforts have been made to resolve the various issues regarding overseas militaries bases, primarily to replace SOFAs with an internationally accepted framework. The Oslo Guidelines were formulated in 1994 and were intended to outline the main principles and standards of military bases and civil defenses. The guidelines state, among other ideas, that“all humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the core principles of humanity, neutrality and with full respect for the sovereignty of the states.”
The United Nations has also tried to stop the rising conflicts regarding foreign military bases throughout the recent years. For example in August of 1988, after eight years of war between the Iraq and Iran wars, the United Nations took strong actions to stop the military intervention of Iraq to control the Arvand River and the annexation of Khuzestan. United Nations reached a consensus with the two foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq to bring forth a ceasefire force. “The United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) was established to verify, confirm and supervise the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all forces to the internationally recognized boundaries without delay.” It was deployed in the region several days before the formal commencement of the ceasefire on 20 August 1988. Worldwide resistance to foreign military bases — particularly those of the United States — has grown for the last few years. Since 2004, the International Network for the Abolition of US Military Bases NO BASES Network have been established with the objective of pursuing the disarmament and demilitarization of military bases in foreign countries.
In addition, a number of places around the world such as the Philippines and Puerto Rico have established popular grass root movements in opposition to the activities of foreign military bases and are constantly adding social pressure to terminate the agreements and negotiations between the foreign militaries and the host countries. Also recently in 2003, the UN Security Council
established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to secure Kabul and the surrounding areas from foreign threat. NATO assumed the control of the ISAF in 2003 and these forces are trained to advise and assist the Afghans and fight alongside with them whenever needed.
Important Terms: (a) Status of Forces Agreement: the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is a framework agreed between the host nation and the nation sending its forces to outline the rights of foreign military personnel. For example, the right of jurisdiction in the case of a crime, military uniform, and the transportation of personnel are all outlined by SOFAs. They are an essential component in preserving authority and guaranteeing fair treatment of individuals. At the end of the Cold War, the US had SOFAs in place with approximately 40 countries; today, that number has grown to over 90. The biggest issue that some countries have with American SOFAs is that in some cases, these agreements can be nebulous and lacking specifics. (b) NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization: is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. Mini Case Study: Legal Framework Within NATO: -
The admission of forces of a member state of the alliance remains subject to the consent of the receiving state
This precondition has not been diminished in any way by the increased level of the defense integration that has taken place since the NAT entered into force.
(c) Sovereignty: The most essential characteristic of an international state. The term strongly implies political independence from any higher authority and also suggests at least theoretical equality.
(d) Multi-polar system: a world political system, in which power is primarily held by four or more international actors.
In drafting your position papers and resolutions: In considering the possible solutions to this issue, delegates must be very cautious to view the situation from each of the political, economic, and social aspects.
One of the main concerns that the host countries have is related to national sovereignty. The deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq are a clear contradiction to the stated intention of nations possessing foreign bases: to bring security to unstable regions around the world.
In addition, foreign militaries must ensure that individuals under their authority are abiding by the laws of the host country, and that in the event of an individual is charged with a crime, a trial must be held without delay. A successful solution will consider methods to coordinate stability and security operations, improve and develop the capabilities of the host country’s own security forces, support humanitarian assistance, and most importantly, initiate joint civilian-military infrastructure projects. Possible Solutions In considering the possible solutions to this issue, delegates must be very cautious to view the situation from each of the political, economic, and social aspects.
Bloc Positions: Foreign military bases concern the following major regions: -
The Persian Gulf
The Mediterranean Sea
The Indian Ocean
The East China Sea and South China Sea ( The Pacific )
You may like to iterate your support or disapproval of the maintenance or establishment of foreign military bases specific to the above regions. For instance, the United States, having a major stake in oil in the Persian Gulf region, is unlikely to cut down foreign military bases in the region. Iran, however, can be seen clearly to be surrounded or encircled by American foreign military bases. Thus, it is unlikely to support the agenda of maintaining foreign military bases in the Gulf region, since most foreign military bases are those of the US and the allies of US.
Another example would be China, having a major stake in securing its economic interest in the Indian Ocean, is in favor of establishing its own foreign naval bases in Sri Lanka, Pakistan etc. Indian, on the other hand, is likely to condemn any building up of foreign military presence by other nations in the Indian Ocean.
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