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Empowered Hosts: Sovereignty, Foreign Military Basing and Host State Violence Against Citizens
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
Kelly L. Dietz
Ithaca College, United States
In light of intensifying anti-US military base movements in the region as well as China’s own moves to site military bases abroad, this paper examines host state uses of force against their citizens as a lens on the international dimensions of internal state violence. Most scholarship on host country sovereignty in the region (and beyond) focuses on intergovernmental relations and the consequences of relative weakness for basing agreements, such as a host government’s limited jurisdiction over foreign military personnel. Critical scholars extend the analysis of such compromised sovereignty to the multidimensional effects that foreign military presence has on local communities. This paper emphasizes instead how sovereignty simultaneously works to empower the host state vis-à-vis its citizenry on behalf of the deploying state. Drawing on evidence from Okinawa and South Korea, the paper argues that foreign military basing arrangements pull host country citizens into a distinct international political space that subjects them to interdependent forms of state violence. Alongside the violent effects of US military presence that trigger popular resistance (e.g. sexual assault), basing arrangements produce host states’ restrictive laws, special policing and ultimately violent repression of citizens to secure US military property and personnel. Foreign military basing thus not only conditions state-citizen conflict, it does so via interstate cooperation that obliges host state control and repression of its citizens. Given the historical specificity of each context, the paper concludes with a discussion of the different implications of host state violence in Okinawa and South Korea.