Overseas Bases for United States Defense
New Overseas Bases Program and Soviet Reaction
One-Third of the funds scheduled for expenditure under a huge military public works construction program submitted to Congress on June 20 is slated to go into development of bases outside of the continental United States. The bill to authorize the Defense Department's program covers projects estimated to cost $6.6 billion. More than $4 billion of the total is earmarked for military installations in this country, and $707 million is designated for bases in American territories and possessions, in American-occupied areas, and in certain foreign countries and possessions. An additional $1.5 billion is included for bases at undisclosed locations. If, as is believed, most of those locations are overseas, the total proposed for bases outside of the United States approximates $2.2 billion.
The military public works construction program now advanced is the largest since 1943. During World War II the United States built up an extensive network of bases on foreign soil. After the war, many of those bases were turned over to the governments of the countries in which they were located; others were put under caretaker status; some were maintained. Subsequent development of the East-West struggle, capped by the Communist aggression in Korea, made it necessary for the United States again to look to its defenses, abroad as well as at home. Strengthening of old bases and establishment of new bases overseas thus became a vital part of the rearmament drive initiated in cooperation with other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other nations belonging to the free world.
American determination to provide the bases from which the military power, particularly the air power, of the United States and its allies could effectively strike back in the event of Soviet aggression naturally has not gone unnoticed in the Kremlin. In fact, the question of military bases, along with the North Atlantic Pact, figured prominently in the failure of recent efforts to arrange a meeting of the Big Four foreign ministers for the purpose of “seeking to reduce the existing tensions in Europe.” The Soviet Union insisted that the pact and bases go on the agenda as “the principal cause of the tense situation in Europe.” But the American, British, and French negotiators at Paris, holding to the view that the treaty and other measures to strengthen western defenses were the result rather than the cause of tension and were a threat to no one, refused to admit those items to a specific place on the agenda. To have done so, U. S. Ambassador Jessup indicated June 21, would have been equivalent to conceding that the inalienable right of self-defense could “become a subject for bargaining with the U.S.S.R.”