America's Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire

Article excerpt

By Christopher Sandars. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 331 pages. $65.00.

At the end of World War II, the hitherto isolationist and anti-colonial government of the United States possessed an extensive network of military bases around the world. The threat of communism and the diminished capacity of the United Kingdom obliged the United States to abandon its wartime plans for four-power collective security arrangements and to develop a global security system of its own. The history of those military base agreements is the topic of America's Overseas Garrisons.

Christopher Sandars, a career civil servant at the British Ministry of Defence, states that it was his purpose to illustrate the varying political environments in which the United States sought to build up elements of the global security system. He also observed that the arrangements by which these bases were obtained were novel, in that US access and use were obtained through negotiations, rather than the exercise of sovereign rights by an imperial power. In this task, he has certainly succeeded. America's Overseas Garrisons provides a well-organized discussion of the establishment of US bases prior to the Second World War, arrangements concluded incident to the war, and a region-by-region discussion of bases from the outset of the Cold War to its end.

However, the scope of the project is partially the book's undoing. While the individual chapters are very readable, the larger theme, The Leasehold Empire, does not bind the chapters together. The author's focus is firmly fixed on the negotiations for military bases, lease terms, and provisions for base use. …