The assumption that American bases served local interests in a common ideological and security project dominated until the 1960s: the granting of access to the base showed a commitment to the fight against communism and a gratitude for U.S. military support. But with the decolonization and the U.S. war in Vietnam, such arguments began to lose their power, and the number of American overseas bases dropped from a peak in the early 1960s. Where access was once automatic, many countries have now had greater influence over what the United States has to give in exchange for basic rights, and these rights could be restricted in a variety of ways, including environmental and other regulations. The bargains used by the United States were increasingly sophisticated weapons, as well as rents for the country on which the base was established.5 These exchanges were often linked to trading and other types of agreements, such as access to oil and other raw materials and investment opportunities (Harkavy 1982:337). They have also had destabilizing effects on regional arms balance sheets, particularly when advanced weapons are the means of exchange. From the previous ideological justification of the bases, the global recovery of the post-war period and the reduction of inequalities between the United States and the countries – especially in the world North – that housed the majority of American bases led to a more pragmatic or more economical basis for negotiation, although often veiled by the language of friendship and common ideological inclination. In the 1980s, countries whose people and government had strongly opposed the U.S.
military presence agreed with Greece, U.S. bases on their soil only because they needed money, and Burma, a neutral but very poor state, opened negotiations with the United States on the military base (Harkavy 1989:4-5). An agreement on visiting forces resembles an agreement on the status of the armed forces, with the exception of the first, which only temporarily covers intervention forces in a country that does not reside there. With the desire to gain military control over space and gather information, the United States has built over time, particularly in the 1990s, a large number of new military bases to facilitate the strategic use of communication and space technologies. Military research and development (the Pentagon deployed more than $52 billion in 2005 and employed more than 90,000 scientists) and the profits of companies expected to be realized in the development and use of the resulting technologies have been important factors in the growing number of technical installations on foreign lands. There are things like rocket warning radars, signal intelligence, space tracking telescopes and laser sources, satellite control, launch air sampling monitors and research facilities for everything from weapons testing to meteorology. Missile defence systems and network-centric warfare systems are increasingly focusing on satellite technology and drones, with the resulting requirements for ground installations. These facilities were often created in violation of arms control agreements, such as the 1967 Space Treaty, which aimed to limit the militarization of space. A sofa should clarify the conditions under which the foreign army can operate.