Russia not alone in grabbing territory for military reasons



President Obama would have more authority to challenge President Putin over the Ukraine if the US was not involved in similar landgrabs for military and strategic purposes.

Here are some action points whereby Mr Obama could begin to rectify this problem. He could:

1. Announce that the US is withdrawing from its base at Guantanamo Bay and handing the back the land to Cuba. The land was seized by force in 1903 and the Cuban government has been trying to get it back since 1959.

2. Announce that it US forces will be withdrawn from Diego Garcia in the Chagos archipelago and that the local Chagossian people forced off the island 40 years ago, now numbering around 2000, will be allowed to return and assume sovereignty.

3. Announce that the United States has listened to the citizens of Nago City, Okinawa, and its newly elected Mayor, Susunu Imamine, and that it will not be building a new military facility in Nago City, Okinawa. Recognising that Okinawan people have never been keen on US troops camping on much of its territory, Mr Obama could also announce plans to withdraw all 26,000 US military personnel from Okinawa.

4. Announce that US is not going ahead with the dramatic expansion of the US military base in Guam, which already takes up a third of the island and is not welcomed by many of the local people. Mr Obama could announce his support for a demilitarized Micronesia, and say he is planning to withdraw US forces.

5. Announce that the United States expects Israel to abide by UN resolutions calling for it to withdraw from the occupied territories (the West Bank, Gaza and Syria’s Golan Heights] and cease American military aid until this happens.

TDB Recommends

This, Mr Obama, is just an initial action list, but its something to be going on with.


  1. Guantanamo Bay was not seized by force in 1903. The US signed a lease with the Cuban government at that time for the base. This was further codified in a treaty in 1934. It is similar to the agreement the Russian’s signed with the Ukrainians over the use of the Naval base at Sebastopol. Noone that I am aware of is arguing that agreement is not valid.

    • Gosman,
      I don’t confess to know much of the history of this bay but, in an effort to learn more, I saw this quote on my first hit on Wikipedia…
      “The current government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as illegal and insists the Cuban–American Treaty was obtained by threat of force in violation of international law.”

      • It is an opinion that may well have merit. However that could apply equally to many international agreements such as the Russian occupation of Kaliningrad oblast or the British control over Gibraltar.

        What is indisputable is that the US believes it has a legitimate right to control the area and most other nations have little issue with this. It certainly isn’t an issue that is getting major airing at the UN.

    • There was a treaty, but it was a treaty signed under duress by Cuba, and therefore not valid. Basically, America as the occupying military power agreed to withdraw most of its troops from the rest of Cuba as long as it could occupy Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, for an annual lease fee which remains at $US2000.

      • Ummm… There is no international law that states a treaty signed under duress has no validity. This is because many treaties that end conflict are only signed because one side forces the other to agree to the terms and conditions.

      • Of which only one cheque appears to have been cashed…
        “In partial compliance with its obligations under the lease, the U.S. sends a payment to the Cuban government each year. The payment due on July 2, 1974 was made by check in the amount $4,085,[4] which is the same amount sent in 2006 regardeless of the fact that with inflation $2,000 of 1903 dollars would be worth: $52,631.58 in 2013. After the Cuban Revolution, the government under Fidel Castro has cashed one of these checks. Castro says this was only done because of “confusion” in the heady early days of the revolution. The remaining checks, made out to “Treasurer General of the Republic”, a position that ceased to exist after the revolution, were shown stuffed in a desk drawer in Castro’s office during a television interview with the leader years ago.[5] The U.S. government maintains that cashing that check constituted an official validation of the treaty.”

  2. My Obama would not have any more authority if the US took those actions. Nations like China and Russia would take this as an admission of US weakness not moral superiority. US allies would start to look elsewhere for their security.

    • I think the overall point Mr.Locke is making is that the the U.S. Administration are, and have been for a long time, a bunch of hypocrites.

      • To a degree all nations in international relations are hypocrites. For example Spain complains about British control over Gibraltar but also has two enclaves on the Moroccan coast that it controls in a similar manner. If hypocrisy precluded you from engaging in diplomacy then there would be very little diplomacy being performed.

        • The hypocrisy is that the U.S. promotes itself as the champion of democracy and lover of freedom for all countries while it supports despots and crushes many democratic movements that may threaten its corporates interests.

    • US allies would start to look elsewhere for their security.

      Well, that’s the free market at play, isn’t it Gosman? If a nation can’t get “security” from one super-power, they can shop around for a better deal.

      Ya got a problem wid dat, sunshine?

      • Not especially but then again I am not advocating that the US pull out from all these military bases on the basis of being purer than pure and whiter than white. I am comfortable with the current security arrangements that have avoided overt direct conflicts between major powers since the end of WWII.

        • The people of Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile, Timor Leste, Angola, Afghanistan, Malaya, West Papua,……..get down on their knees and than the lord that there have been no overt direct conflicts. Wow Gosman, that’s about as stupid as claiming that El Alamein wasn’t a direct battle between Germany and Britain because it happened in Egypt.

          • Korea? You are blaming the Korean war on the US? You are a serious anti-American aren’t you. I suppose you blame the Soviet intervention of Hungary and Czechoslovakia on the US as well do you?

        • Gosman – I don’t know whether your political naivete is comedic or seriously disturbing…

          Where do you get your information and insights from? 6PM TV news? Fox?

          Christ, I haven’t been as naive as you since my 20s…

  3. Personally I would have added the 5th. Fleet in Bahrain and their gargantuan embassy in Baghdad to your list but, as you say, it’s just an initial action list. We would need one of those extra length rolls of toilet paper to compile a complete list.

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