Where is America?

Posted in: Iowa City Owl World News
In a poll of 30,000 people world-wide, the United States was recently voted the “coolest nation”. What makes Americans so cool? According to voters, things like the iPhone, Levi's, Harley Davidson and people like Jay-Z, Johnny Depp and President Obama all contributed to America’s “coolness”.

It comes as no surprise that Americans would be voted so highly; people around the world listen to American music, watch American movies, and buy American products. The United States is truly a global force, but there is a more somber side to the nature of American influence.

The United States outdoes every other nation when it comes to international presence. American military members are deployed in 150 countries with approximately 369,000 active-duty personnel serving abroad. 19 countries, including Spain, Japan, and the UK, have over 1,000 American troops stationed within their borders.

Only two of these countries—Iraq and Afghanistan—are classified by the US State Department as “combat zones”. As of January 2011, Iraq and Afghanistan had a combined number of nearly 150,000 troops. The country with the next largest number of American troops is Germany, coming in at 53,000. Japan takes second place with approximately 32,000.

Many of the US military personnel currently stationed abroad are located on vestigial bases, remainders of the Cold War zones that were closely monitored by both the Soviet Union and the United States. Some of these locations include Qatar, Kuwait, Poland, and Kosovo.

Regionally speaking, US military bases have seen a dramatic change in roles over the past several decades. While locations based in the Middle East and Korea remain vital to security as threats of terrorism and nuclear war continue to grow, other locations in regions such as South America saw a decline in necessity as the violence and unrest of the 1970’s and 80’s dwindled.

The United States is not only the top contender for most widely-spread military presence, but also takes first place when it comes to peaceful foreign presence. With 172 embassies, America leads second-place France by more than 20 embassies. Britain, Germany, and Russia flush out the top five.

Some find security in knowing that the United States has its finger on the pulse of international events; supporters maintain that U.S. military bases provide strategic benefits by guaranteeing American access to commodities like energy, and by giving the US a military advantage when it comes to response time. However, others believe these bases serve to project the idea of American superiority and imperialistic tendencies, creating a negative environment and attitude towards the United States in general. It remains to be seen how globalization’s continuing impact will change the role of America’s military presence, but for now US citizens can take solace in knowing that the world still thinks we’re cool.
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