This is a question that will affect the midterm election of 2018, as policymakers will duel it out on Capitol Hill to save billions of dollars, by withdrawing its presence or maintain a higher level of national security by maintaining its presence in countries around the globe. Through this journey of arguments on either side of the debate, one can form their opinion on the matter to enable a more educated decision when it comes to the midterm election of 2018.
The Argument for Withdrawing US Military Presence
One side of the debate argues that both Okinawa and the US will benefit financially with the withdrawal of our military from Okinawa. According to Tiezzi of The Diplomat, US military presence is why Okinawa has the lowest income, twice the unemployment, and twice the poverty compared to every other region in Japan. She quantifies an annual 1.4 billion dollar loss in economic potential because bases take up land for businesses. Our bases use land stolen from Okinawans during World War I, and that slashes economic value. In fact, all of the progress made in our current alliance is being overshadowed by these issues in Okinawa.
The Huffington Post finds that withdrawing our military will solve these problems. Nye of Harvard furthers that as long as our troops are there, it is impossible to prevent these atrocities. With these circumstances, there are 2 impacts. First, looking to comparative worlds, the New Pacific Institute finds that Okinawa would do 33 times better economically without bases because it would return land to the people. According to the Stars and Stripes, when a base in Okinawa has closed three years ago, economic growth skyrocketed in the region by 215 times. The second impact takes place in the US. We have 32,000 troops in Okinawa. And the Huffington Post calculates, US citizens pay a collective $40,000 extra in taxes every year, for every single soldier stationed abroad. The Center for Economic Policy Research concludes that for every 5 percent we decrease military spending to maintain overseas troops, we would see 10 million jobs form in the next 20 years, along with a 3 percent increase in national economic value.
The Argument for Maintaining US Military Presence
On the other hand, believers of holding off the withdrawal of our military presence from Okinawa, argue that our military bases serve as a deterrent to threats to the National Security of the United States. Withdrawing our military presence can harm global stability. This is because it destroys our commitment to security. Campbell Center of Strategic and International Studies maintains any reduction of US presence will guarantee countries interpreting it as receding American commitment. This not only erases US international credibility but, as the LA Times adds, the withdrawal will signal our lack of capability to respond to future global challenges. Thus the impact to US withdrawal is creating a vacuum infested with conflict. Yukio of MIT explains withdrawal of US presence in Okinawa will create an East Asian power vacuum, increasing the likelihood of conflict. Furthermore, history will repeat itself. Katie Hunt, of CNN, points, first, to Vietnam, where China grabbed the Paracel islands after the US left, and, second, to the Philippines, where after America withdrew its presence, China annexed Mischief Reef. If the US military left Okinawa, it would guarantee a Chinese takeover of Okinawa. Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment furthers that when the US relocated 9,000 marines from Okinawa in 2013, China saw it as US withdrawal and thus we saw imminent Chinese militarization in the South China Sea. However, with US presence, annexation is less likely to happen. This is because US Defense Secretary Hagel tells us, China is liable to dominate its smaller neighbors unless America stands firm. In fact according to Juliana Velasco, the US as a regional actor makes peace agreements three times more likely to be formed and followed when compared to a US-free Japan.
You Get To Decide in the 2018 Midterm Elections!
With both these arguments, one can form their own opinion on whether we should allow for the withdrawal of our military bases from Okinawa, and other countries, or just maintain the high standard of National Security in a time of both high stakes of National Security or Economy. Voters should take this into account when deciding who to cast their vote for in the Midterm election of 2018.
– Ashutosh Maheshwari (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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