“There are a growing number of situations throughout the world that call into question the assertion that US bases positively impact a local community’s economy,” says Dr Lisa Natividad, a speaker at the annual conference of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), being held in Alice Springs today.
“For example, in the case of Fayetteville, North Carolina that hosts two major US bases, the city is found to have one of the state’s highest rates of child poverty and infant mortality. The military sector is one of the least efficient mechanisms for job creation.
“A quantification of the economic impacts of the military needs to transcend a mere bean count of jobs locals are able to get on bases. Rather, this analysis needs to take into account the various services and infrastructural investments made by local communities that include the provision of health care, the maintenance of roads, the increased demand for water, electricity, and the wear and tear of these systems over time.
“In addition, the social costs for military-related crimes, the demand for the sex industry, and the tensions between US active-duty troops and locals also needs to be considered,” said Dr Natividad.
“In Okinawa, US Forces-related revenue has been approximately 5% of the gross prefectural income since the 1990s,” says Professor Kosuzu Abe, of Okinawa, also a speaker at the IPAN conference.
“From our experience and research in Okinawa, we conclude that the military is not a significant contributor to the economy, and worse than that, it impacts adversely on the community economy and blocks community self-determination,” said Professor Abe.
“Trump’s lies in the US presidential debate have brought to light the cost incurred by countries with US bases on their territory,” said Denis Doherty from the Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, a member of IPAN.
“Trump claimed that Japan, Germany, South Korea and Saudi Arabia pay nothing to the US for “defending” their countries.
“In fact, the South Korean Government paid around $1.2 billion in 2014 for the US military presence in the country. That is about 40 per cent of the total costs.
“Japan’s budget shows that it pays about $5.7 billion annually in base-related expenses.
“The US Marine base in Darwin will cost Australian taxpayers around $2.3 billion over the forward estimates and Pine Gap alone cost $14m in 2011-12,” said Mr Doherty.
“These costs are at the expense of our public health and education systems, the disabled, the homeless and other programs which the Turnbull Government claims it cannot fund,” Mr Doherty said.
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