The Politics of Foreign Military Basing

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Foreign military bases are anomalies in a world of sovereign states. Why do major powers station their finite military forces to protect other countries and how does the distribution of these bases relate to a country’s grand strategy? Why do host-nations give up their sovereignty and allow foreign forces, capable of existential violence, to deploy within their borders? This dissertation takes a mixed method approach to each of these questions. For the first, I combine descriptive case studies relating the basing postures of five major powers and to their respective grand strategies with a quantitative analysis of the correlates of the US military basing network. To answer the second, I test the role of host-nation security conditions on US military access and then conduct an in-depth process tracing of US-Philippine basing relations. I find that foreign military bases are essential for super-power status and are an arena for great power competition. I conclude that the US foreign basing posture is strongly aligned with American trade relationships and against US enemies. For host-nation motivations, I conclude that security threats to the host-nation matter, but not uniformly. External threats have the greatest influence in increasing foreign military access, but low-intensity revolutionary threats actually tend to decrease a host-nation’s willingness to accommodate foreign forces.





Brown, Joseph W (2020). The Politics of Foreign Military Basing. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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