Foreign Bases: Declining Asset

September 14, 1960

Report Outline
Pressures Against U.S. foreign Bases
Bases in Western Defense Strategy
Diminishing Need for Overseas Bases
Special Focus

Pressures Against U.S. foreign Bases

Downing deep within Soviet territory, May 1, of the U-2 reconnaissance plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers gave the Kremlin a handy excuse for breaking up the scheduled summit conference at Paris. It provided ammunition also for a new Russian propaganda offensive against American military bases in foreign countries. The U-2 had taken off from a U.S. Air Force base near Adana, Turkey; touched down at an airfield near Peshawar, Pakistan, before crossing into Soviet airspace; and, when its flight was interrupted, was heading across Russia to an airfield at Bodo, Norway. Turkey, Pakistan and Norway are allies of the United States.

The U-2 incident produced an abrupt change, not in Soviet foreign policy, but in methods used to promote that policy. Good manners and an attitude of sweet reasonableness suddenly gave way to personal abuse and harsh demands. Where previously Communist spokesmen had been content to urge American withdrawal from foreign bases as a quid pro quo for some Soviet concession, they now sought by bluster and threat to intimidate the governments of countries in which the bases are situated. And elements on the left in those countries were encouraged to question, or to stir up popular protests against, the continued presence of American power.

Use of U-2 Affair in Soviet Anti-Base Campaign

News of the downing of the American plane came out of Russia on May 5. Four days later, Soviet Premier Khrushchev, speaking at a Czechoslovak embassy reception in Moscow, warned “countries that have bases on their territories” that “if they allow others to fly from their bases to our territory, we shall hit at those bases,” Moscow on May 13 dispatched notes to Turkey, Pakistan and Norway protesting the use or intended nse of airfields in those countries for U.S. reconnaissance flights over Russia. The notes reiterated threats of nuclear missile retaliation, asserting that the Soviet Union had “means …of annihilating those military bases which are being used for aggressive actions” against it.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Military Bases
Sep. 30, 2016  Closing Guantanamo
Feb. 15, 1980  American Military Strength Abroad
Sep. 14, 1960  Foreign Bases: Declining Asset
Jan. 30, 1957  Future of Overseas Bases
Jul. 09, 1951  Overseas Bases
Jun. 16, 1944  Outlying Bases
Feb. 16, 1939  American Naval and Air Bases
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Military Bases
U.S. at War: Cold War