For better or for worse, the United States has been described as the self-appointed police force of the world by politicians and pundits alike. Like any good police force, the US has plenty of stations to dispatch officers from. Only, in this case, those stations are all over the globe and known as overseas American military bases.
It’s become accepted that there are US military bases around the world, but rarely does one stop to ask exactly how the US even has military bases in other countries in the first place. The story is a mixture of diplomatic relationships, international alliances, and good ol' fashioned American military dominance.
The historical reasons for US military bases abroad are as varied as the bases themselves. Sometimes, the US is helping an ally out with training and defense. Other times, they’re keeping an eye on a recently defeated enemy. Bizarrely, they sometimes even hold their worst political enemies in an illegal detention facility in a country they have next to no diplomatic ties to. The basic rule of thumb is this: if the US could benefit from having a military base in a certain location, they’ve probably already got one there.