The question about whether Ghana needs a US military base or not must be looked at analytically, cogently, and succinctly with the cost and benefit analysis associated with it.
First of all, what is a military base? A military base is a facility owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, facilitates, training and operations. It provides an accommodation and a command centre ground.
The world has changed drastically with its increased security concerns and for that matter most of the third world countries are seeking external security support and shield from developed countries such as the United States, the supremo in world security.
The United States has about eight hundred military bases in more than seventy countries. These bases are very significant to US because it’s $15 trillion economy is too deeply integrated with the rest of the world and for that matter disruption in the world would strongly affect the United States economically, politically, and its overall security.
Setting up of military bases is a phenomenon associated with major world powers. These countries have always setup bases to secure their trade routes and US is no different. Other countries allow it because it make sense for them because of the mutual benefits obtained. (Balag Viswanathan, May 31 2015)
I have heard many differing opinions and viewpoints about this establishment of the US military base in Ghana. Notable among these views is the assertion and believe that the establishment of the US military base is going to create fear and panic, and also expose us to terrorism. The significant question one may ask is whether, those countries in the world and specifically in Africa where US bases exist are experiencing these terrorist attacks, panic, and fear as some people claim?. In as much as some African countries have experienced terrorist attacks in recent times, these attacks cannot be linked to the establishment of the US military base in those countries.
It is worthy to note that some anti US states in the Arab world, like Iran, Russia, Turkey, etc, that opposes US policies have also been attacked by terrorist. In this wise, one cannot jump into conclusion that the terrorism occurred as a result of US military bases. I think Ghanaians must look at the issue holistically and tangibly.
In my candid opinion, a third world country like Ghana must embrace the establishment of a US military base to boost its security domestically, alongside its territorial borders and internationally. I believe one of the most important thing is to look at this bi-lateral relationship it in terms of its economic value, security value, political value, etc.
The benefits of bilateral relationships with foreign countries cannot be overemphasized. A typical example is the rescue operations support received upon the collapse of the Melcom building at Achimota. It took the intervention of Israeli security and foreign rescue experts to come to Ghana to rescue some of the victims. Again, the world is a global village and for that matter a third world or a developing countries with its limited resources needs such relationship to survive. What matters most is the desire and the zeal of Ghana as a nation to protect its sovereignty as entrenched in the 1992 constitution. As Ghanaians, we must critically consider the advantages and disadvantages of the establishment of the US military base.
I would continue my submission by elaborating more on the benefits of this relationship. First of all, the establishment of the US military will help boost defence training of our nation. Secondly, it will also serves as some sort of financial payoff because countries with US military bases are given financial support from United States government and in return they purchase military equipment from US. Another significant benefits of the US military base is to improve diplomatic ties and relations that demonstrate a friendly relationship between the two nations and also strengthens the pre-existing military alliances. Another is a good trade deal, a benefit which is availed to nations which allows US military bases.
All these benefits may without doubt come with some negative impacts. Some of these associated undesirables includes, but not limited to a constrain on the foreign relations of countries that are anti US in nature. It destabilizes the rapport between the enemies of the United States and the countries that host the military bases.
Moreover, the world is a global village as for that matter Ghana must not isolate herself from such tangible and strategic policies especially when it comes to global issues in terms of economics, and security and we stand to benefit more having this relationship with the US than any other super power.
Strategically, I think any deals that Ghana enters must be a win-win approach or negotiations that comes with mutual benefits. This must be tackled with the best negotiating tactics. Ghana must appoint a special negotiator like Henry Kissinger of United States who was described in his days as the best negotiator. This will help to achieve better deals economically, politically, and socially.
Importantly, the best approach the authorities can use is to first approach the military base deal and any other deals nationalistically with a sense of patriotism and with total conviction.
Another important point I would like to elaborate on our approach to this military deal is to devoid it of bi-partisanship. Seriously, the most dangerous issue that is undermining the development of the African continent including Ghana is bi-partisanship through political ideologist approach of any issue whereby the political parties pay more loyalty to their parties’ ideals and principles instead of National interest.
In conclusion, the question whether Ghana needs an American military base or not is the not the issue but rather the most significant and the most important issue is that, with or without a military base, what is the end value and benefits, in terms of economic, political, social, and other associated benefits that would make us better and add value to the lives of Ghanaians.
By Elijah Mike Manu Ansu
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Student in Politics and International Relations