The suggestion emerged last week in a leak to the BBC, picked up by the Guardian in several articles, that the bases for Britain’s nuclear WMD system (Trident) at Faslane and Coulport near Glasgow in Scotland could be designated as “sovereign UK territory” should Scottish voters back independence in the forthcoming referendum This follows some unhappy examples elsewhere, not mentioned in the reports. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk-news/2013/jul/10/mod-trident-scotland-independence?INTCMP=SRCH)
The US detention jail at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba – with its shocking reputation – is well known.
The US use of the island of Diego Garcia as a strategic military base - rented from the UK - which effectively expropriated the Chagos Islands (British Indian Ocean Territory, BIOT) from its inhabitants, who were forcibly deported, is a shameful episode in British colonialism. Last Monday foreign office minister Mark Simmonds admitted to MPs in a statement:
“This Government have expressed their regret about the way resettlement of BIOT was carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We do not seek to justify those actions or excuse the conduct of an earlier generation. What happened was clearly wrong, which is why substantial compensation was rightly paid.” (Hansard, 8 July: Columns 3-4WS)
The minister did not mention it, but a disgraceful deal done in 1966 with the Americans was part of the agreement that secured the US designed Polaris nuclear missile and submarine system, which is Trident’s predecessor, as the Guardian has earlier reported. (see Peter H. Sands, 2009, United States and Britain in Diego Garcia – the Future of a Controversial Base. New York: Palgrave MacMillan) The human rights of the Chagossians were expendable in attaining the new nuclear WMD system Polaris (“Chagos Islands marine park is compatible with law, high court rules,”Guardian, 11 June 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/11/chagos-islands-marine-park-court?INTCMP=SRCH)
The US also has 14 major military bases on Okinawa, the archipelago of islands south of Japan, officially Japanese, but practically American, fully 68 years after US military activities against Japan ceased. A small number of the 26,000 US military personnel based there have committed, and been convicted of, terrible sexual abuses against local women. (“U.S. sailors get nine, 10 years for rape ,” JapanTtimes, 2 March 2013, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/02/national/u-s-sailors-get-nine-10-years-for-rape/#.Ud8Y_XDn-M8 ; “Okinawa Military Rape Arrests: Japan Decries U.S. Troops In Sexual Assault Allegations, “ Huffington Post, 17 October 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/okinawa-military-rape_n_1974475.html)
The Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol continues to be the home of the Russian - formerly Soviet –Black Sea Fleet, and is now home to a Ukrainian naval base too, and has Russian naval facilities leased from Ukraine through 2042. The headquarters of both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and Russia's Black Sea Fleet are located in the city.
Russia also has the micro-territory of Kaliningrad, formerly the German Königsberg , which borders NATO states of Poland and Lithuania, is located at the mouth of the navigable Pregolya (Pregel)River, which empties into the Vistula Lagoon, an inlet of the almost totally enclosed Baltic Sea. Its strategiv location make it Russia’s most militarised teritory and it hosts Russia’s Baltic Fleet m, as well as the 3 military airports (Chernyakhovsk (air base), Donskoye (air base) and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base). The city is one of the wierdest in Europe.
We should beware of the negative impact of such sometimes lawless military enclaves on foreign territories. In the case of Trident better to scrap it altogether and invest the resources saved in rebuilding our economy and public services.