Well they do get access to a lot of useful modules in the mid to late game. However, I am not convinced any of them actually work. By the time you have military starbases with any kind of power guarding the slipstreams, you have probably won the game anyway (in my experience). If they could be made more useful early on then, just perhaps, they might be considered worthwhile. My gripe is that it is reasonably easy to determine what effect the other starbases are having on their local environment, but next to impossible to see what benefit your ships are getting from the nearby friendly military base.
So maybe that is the solution - we need to see the data. We need to see, somehow, that an enemy fleet has been slowed 25%, or their rate of fire reduced, or your point defences buffed. It is simply not good enough for the "game" to hide it in some esoteric algorithm because we, as players, want to understand how we can do better; what can we change; why were we victorious or defeated? Oh and the Area of Effect needs to be far more visible guys - that's if there is any effect. It simply can't be beyond the reach of your coders to flash the Area of Effect and float a little "-25% speed" over an enemy fleet can it?
ps for AoE read ZoC - same thing.