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Excellent long-term strategy

President Bush has announced, and not a moment too soon, that the US will undertake a massive reorganization of its overseas deployment, moving troops out of theatres where war no longer threatens (e.g., Europe). Apparently, most of the troops would be brought home to the US.

As I have noted before, the security guarantee that the US extends to its nominal allies can be counterproductive, encouraging irresponsibility and anti-American attitudes in such allies. For nations, as for individuals, there is no substitute for self-defence.

It is awfully strange behaviour for an imperial hyperpower, though, isn’t it? Surely the evil Bushchimpler realizes that bringing troops home is no way to expand global hegemony. Whatever could he (or his puppetmaster Karl Rove) be thinking?

Update: Mark Steyn weighs in.

73 comments to Excellent long-term strategy

  • Julian Morrison

    Yeah, my immediate reaction was “clever, clever Bush”. He gets to play to his “base”, confound his critics, and teach a little lesson in manners to quite a few foreign countries. He also gets to play bloody hob with Kerry, who can’t possibly support a reduction in tranzi internationalism, but nor can he make himself the voice for “imperialism” (not without losing his base). Cute move.

  • DSpears

    10 years too late, and about 100,000 troops too short, and since this isn’t going to be completed for 10 years, make that 20 years too late.

    There is absolutely no reason to have a single American military person or piece of equipment in Europe or Asia. I’m doubting more and more eveyday that the middle east is a good place to have them either, although there is a real need.

    The best cure for Anti-Americanism is to stop being the world’s parent (every adolescent hates their parents)and let the rest of children try to deal with all these problems instead of us. Then sit back and laugh while they all destroy each other, like the last time we brought all our troops home and stopped participating in the world.

    You’ve been telling us for years how our way of dealing with all these issues is ignorant, corrupt and destructive, so it’s time put up or shut. How are you going to force Iran to stop building nukes? Israeli-Palestinian problem, you’ve been shooting your mouthes off about that one for decades. North Korea? What about when China invades Taiwan? Not to mention the usual chaos and bloodshed that is the continent of Africa.

    We’ve protected and coddled you little snot-nosed brats for 50 years, dealt with all the problems you couldn’t or wouldn’t handle, while you spent the month of August in the South of France. Your life of nit-picking from the peanut gallery while you have no actual responsibilities is over.

    Now it’s our turn. We’re moving to Florida and we’re not leaving a forwarding address.

    Good luck!

  • Richard Easbey

    This is the BEST news I’ve read in a long time, but I agree that we should have done this years ago. The hell with Europe if they think we’re just ignorant “cowboys.” I guess they’ll have to learn to solve their own problems.

  • James Knowles

    When the US pulls out, who will fill the power vacuum? We all hope that the various European governments will create a viable self defense force. However, responsible behavior does not seem to be one of their characteristics.

    If the vacuum persists it will be filled eventually, perhaps with a force more unpleasant than the current statists. While getting the US troops out of Europe is good for the US, will it also be good for Europe in the long run?

  • DSpears has a point. If we pulled up stakes and went home the world would soon degenerate into a pre World War Two state, or maybe pre Thirty Years War state.

    In any case standing back and letting the Germans, Poles, Belgiums, Russians and above all the French massacre each other would give me a profound level of satisfaction.

    Sadly, I doubt that we are really going to let that happen and the brats will go on being bratish.

  • mike

    Nice to see you haven’t included us British in your list of brats (though maybe you can include the Scots)! Having said that our government is cutting the defence budget..

  • Susan

    Buh-bye Europe, have fun living under the Pax Islamica. See ya — wouldn’t wanna be ya.

    Note to Britain: the good ship USA is leaving the harbor. Better scamper up the gangplank, or you’ll end up sharing the Continent’s fate.

  • RAB

    Havent you heard! Canada is considering allowing Islamic law to be used in civil cases.Have you isolationists no idea what’s coming to your doorstep soon? especially if mr see alllsides Kerry becomes prez.
    But on the other hand it is a great kick up the ass for most european powers.Put up or shut up is the phrase, alas europe will shut up,cos it cant put up anything more substantial than a joint declaration of intent, let alone an army that knows what it is fighting for.Besides 25 languages does not an efficient army make, especially if the least strategically sound (the french) demand to give the orders.When the time comes can any of you sponser me for a green card!

  • ernest young

    I know you atheists have probably never read the parable of the ‘Tower of Babel’, but it could well be the metaphorical blueprint for the EU.

    That one ended in disaster too….

  • Susan

    RAB: I think it’s worse to have worthless allies than to have none at all. When the shit hits the fan in Europe, it’ll get back exactly what it gave us after 9-11 — crocodile tears and a few “peacekeeping” units. (This excludes Britain which we will stand by as she has stood by us.)

  • I really should not have included the Poles who after all have been standing with us in Iraq. Sadly they have the bad luck to be stuck between Germany, home of the uberbrats and Russia which is always willing to help (as in ; I’m from the government and I’m here to help.) its Slavic comrades.

    As for the Brits, the BBC mentality seems to have soaked up most of the rational self interest in their national bloodstream. A few gutsy leaders like Blair are still trying to preserve a few shreds of it. I know I know he’s a bit of phony, but what the hell, name me one politico of any persuasion who is not to some extent, a phony.

    The other point is that we are replaceing the two heavy divisions with a Stryker brigade. This unit which will be networked together and will have the whole firepower of the USAF the USN and maybe ever a few space strike weapons on call will have more raw military power than the whole of today’s EU’s (non nuclear) forces put together.

    Finally somebody had better think of a way to get the French nukes out of the hands of Europe’s future Islamic masters, otherwise things will get really unpleasent.

  • N. Bourbaki

    I’m sorry to have to say it, but there are some of us Merkins that (at least somewhat) can’t wait for France to be overrun it’s future Islamic masters. We hope that it will serve as a wakeup call for our own people. We are not far behind Europe with regard to the move toward statism. Perhaps a colossal screw up across the pond will renew our own commitment to freedom.

  • veryretired

    I have posted several comments in the past about my belief that the future of Europe is one of decline and stagnation, so I don’t have to repeat all that here. I will state, however, that I am amazed so many posters in this thread think that these troop movements are some kind of “nyah, nyah” move by the US, which will then be utterly disinterested in the future calamities suffered by an ungrateful Europe.

    It may be emotionally satisfying to blow raspberries, but these various re-deployments are, in fact, very carefully considered steps in response to the new strategic situation the US faces. The focus was Europe, Korea, and Japan when the threat was Soviet expansionism and Chinese communist adventurism.

    These factors have subsided, although not disappeared completely. The new threat is more diffuse, and centered on the Mid-east and Asian theaters. These issues have been studied and discussed for years by our own defense theorists, and consultations with the countries involved have been ongoing for a decade.

    It doesn’t matter who likes this or who is discomfited by that. The military assets of the US are exceedingly precious, and need to be placed for maximum utility. If, as a byproduct, there are those in Europe who finally realize they just aren’t in the big leagues any more, that is a pleasant bonus, but hardly the point of the exercise. The same is true of Korea.

    I would recommend reading the essay in Commentary about World War lV, available through Instapundit. There are more important things going on here than nose-thumbing at the poor, deluded slaves of Socialist Europe.

  • Speaking as an American who has no real love for Europe — Britain excepted — there’s no reason to feel malicious joy over this redeployment. There are numerous practical reasons to favor it without spewing bile at the continent.

    The Cold War has been over for better than a decade and using our troops to protect Europe no longer represents a compelling strategic interest for the U.S.

    We have, in effect, been subsidizing irresponsibility on the part of Europe by providing their defense.

    The troops aren’t wanted in most of the places, so bringing them home seems to be the most practical use for them. We have more than enough capability to project power without having the large forward bases.

    All practical reasons, no bile needed. God forbid, we may even need their help one day and it behooves us to not try to embarrass them while performing a redeployment that’s clearly in our interests.

  • Denise US

    I think this was a clever move and way over due. Most of Europe and the world was ranting about our imperialism. I wonder what they think about it now? We don’t want to rule the world. And our extra military spending to defend Europe and other parts of the world was what made it possible for Europe to afford more foreign aid spending than us, too. It will be interesting to see Europe fend for itself for a change. I do have one concern, though. I’m afraid that after we leave, another Hitler or worse might pop out of the woodwork, acting all nice at first, then getting creepy on us. I’ve had nightmares about this dude, no joke. Britain, despite your military cuts, I think you can fend for yourself just fine. You rock! I just pray to God that we’ll be here for you if you should need us. You may not love us but we love you. Thanks for sticking with us. And thanks to the FEW others in Europe who stuck with us, too. We won’t forget you!

  • Denise US

    Robert, you made a good point. I’ll keep that in mind.

  • Exactly. The “nyah, nyah” game wouldn’t isn’t helping anyone. Europe and the US can cheer each others’ misfortunes from now on , but I don’t see what the benefits are. I mean, it’s not as if we’d be happier with China or Russia than with each other.

    Susan,

    Europe is never going to be Islamic

  • But – but who will be there to defend the Germans against Luxembourg?

  • DSpears

    “Nice to see you haven’t included us British in your list of brats (though maybe you can include the Scots)! Having said that our government is cutting the defence budget.. ”

    While Britain’s government may be with us (for now), anybody who has been to Britain knows it’s people aren’t. The Samizdata crowd is a fringe minority, right?The war in Iraq and America in general is almost as unpopular in Britain as on the continent. You don’t want Tony Blair to be “George Bush’s poodle”? Well you may just get your wish.

    You’re in charge of the children now. Good luck. Now you get to see what it is like to be in charge of this mess. I hope you heap the same amount of criticism on yourselves that you heaped on us for 60 years.

    “God forbid, we may even need their help one day ”

    God forbid is right! If we get to that point we’re already doomed.

    “It may be emotionally satisfying to blow raspberries, but these various re-deployments are, in fact, very carefully considered steps in response to the new strategic situation the US faces.”

    The blowing raspberries part is just an added bonus.

  • The Samizdata crowd is a fringe minority, right?

    Very.

  • A_t

    I agree that it’s best to have Europe stand on it’s own two military feet. At the same time, I don’t think much work is currently needed to create a ‘viable self defense force’; which great military power is about to threaten Europe? The US forces stationed in Europe are disproportionate to any current threat, & that’s why they’re being withdrawn. That seems pretty clear.

    As to anti-americanism… I think what you all fail to grasp is that

    a) helping people out does not mean they have to agree with you, nor should you expect them to. As far as I’m aware, no ‘compliance with all American policies’ clause came with any of the aid, military or other, that the US gave to Europe. Similarly, if I help out a friend who’s less well off than me, I will expect him to be friendly (which I think we are, bar some differences), but certainly not to be at my beck & call.

    b) the top dog will almost always be unpopular & criticised. Everyone likes to have a moan about the boss at work. And does anyone remember when Japan looked as though it was going to overtake the US as an economic power? Did the Americans go “oh well, fair enough. We’ve had our time in the sun, we’ll gracefully let them take over & admire their enterprising spirit”? Hmm… nope! Rampant anti-japanese sentiment was the order of the day, and they were only exporting consumer items, not dominating the TV schedules or trying to shape foreign policy.

    You shouldn’t expect anyone else to act differently when they percieve themselves to be culturally & economically dominated, or at least overshadowed. I know it’s not a noble reaction, or justifiable, but it’s very human. To expect much else from a mass of people is idealistic & perhaps commendable, but somewhat unrealistic.

    The main thing if you’re American, is to remember you *are* top dog, and you’re reaping the benefits, so keep the old sticks & stones adage in mind; by all means react, argue against anti-americanism, but spare me any self-righteousness or revenge fantasies; your country would be no better behaved if the roles were reversed.

  • A_t

    Oh, & btw, to those who surmise the rise of another Hitler, or a descent into pre WWI europe, what leads you to expect this?

    As for the ‘Europe will be Islamist” thing, puhr-lease… give it a rest. It’s on a level with the “USA becoming fundamentalist anti-evolution land of crazies” rubbish. Perry’s bang on the money when he talks about muslims in miniskirts, & despite some well publicised stone-aged idiots being in our midst, we’re not getting Sharia’d up any time soon. Trust me.

    As a final aside, to those who read the Steyn article linked to above, his comment about the Greeks cheering the Afgans more than the US is extremely churlish. Firstly, he seems to have conveniently forgotten US support for military dictatorship in Greece. I’m pretty sure Greeks haven’t. Secondly, the Afgan team arriving is astounding, & they deserve applause. The US team arriving is business as usual.

  • R C Dean

    At the same time, I don’t think much work is currently needed to create a ‘viable self defense force’; which great military power is about to threaten Europe?

    No great military power, perhaps, but right now Europe doesn’t have the capability to protect itself against “fourth way” military powers like the Islamists, be cause Europe has none of the force projection capability necessary to root them out of their holes.

    Oh, & btw, to those who surmise the rise of another Hitler, or a descent into pre WWI europe, what leads you to expect this?

    A thousand years of history and millions of headstones?

  • Susan

    Ralf wrote:

    Europe and the US can cheer each others’ misfortunes from now on , but I don’t see what the benefits are. I mean, it’s not as if we’d be happier with China or Russia than with each other.

    Don’t bet on it, dude. At least the Chinese and the Russians tell us to our faces they hate us. Not like our oh so sophisticated Euro-cousins who’ve been stabbing us in the back for years while bellying up to the trough of Yankee dollars and sticking both hands in.

    Europe is never going to be Islamic.

    Europe and what army? Wars are fought by young men — and the only young men being produced by Europe right now are the sons and grandsons of Muslim immigrants.

  • A_t

    :D haha to both of you… RC dean,

    “A thousand years of history and millions of headstones?”

    So the US gets to opt out because it’s only got a little history, & was lucky enough to have spare land for people to expand into for most of that time? All your people came from various warlike lands; do you believe they were spiritually purified by the journey across, or maybe had their souls sanctified by the constitution? I’d say the possibilities for geographical expansion, plus the fact that you’ve been one country for a while, have a lot more to do with the lack of war than any inherent lack of some weird euro-war-pig mentality.

    The nature of the last couple of wars we saw over here, & the amount of devastation caused; far in excess of anything over the previous thousand years, put a fair few people off the idea of war as a means of solving problems, hence the Americans’ recent trouble getting us to take part in ass-kicking elsewhere. I seriously can’t see any european countries starting a conflict any time soon, & I fail to see how we can be both Euro-weenies and bloodthirsty warmongerers at the same time.

    & Susan, yeah! that’s right! All the young caucasians I see around me must just be a figment of my imagination… or perhaps they’re secretly muslim footsoldiers ‘white-ing up’ in order to fool myself & similar indigenous persons. Muslims may have a higher birth rate than non-muslim brits, but then Catholics have had for years, & I don’t see much in the way of Catholic domination. Also, I think your model rests on the assumption that all or most muslim youth will be interested in changing their host countries into muslim states, whereas many of them are more interested in the traditional british pursuits of drinking lager & ogling girls in bikinis on the pages of lad mags; hardly popular activities with your average mad mullah.

  • R C Dean

    I see our humorless editors have corrected my little joke in the title, originally “excellent long-term strategery” by reference to a well-known Bush malapropism. I thought you Brits were supposed to be all witty and stuff.

  • mike

    “While Britain’s government may be with us (for now), anybody who has been to Britain knows it’s people aren’t. The Samizdata crowd is a fringe minority, right?The war in Iraq and America in general is almost as unpopular in Britain as on the continent. You don’t want Tony Blair to be “George Bush’s poodle”? Well you may just get your wish.”

    DSpears: Almost as unpopular. However I suspect there are a lot of people in Britain who supported Blair on the invasion of Iraq but who became somewhat doubtful about the (legal, as distinct from moral) justification seeing as how no WMD have yet been found. In addition to this doubt about the accuracy of Blair’s legal premises, those people who still support Blair’s stance over Iraq will in most cases simply not be listened to.

    As for support for America in general in Britain, I would say it’s pretty high. Except in universities people in Britain (which really means England) are more inclined toward the Americans than the French – though there are still remote little groups who prize British boffinry, dog-walking and tea-drinking more highly even than America!

  • Guy Herbert

    “We all hope that the various European governments will create a viable self defense force.”

    Actually, no we all don’t. It depends what purposes it is viable for.

    I’m not at all keen on a European state backed by a European army created by a club of governments, which seems like the most likely prospect at the moment. A mutual defense pact with some useful interoperability while the different governments retain a variety of competing governmental forms in their distinct territories might be nice. But I’m not all that sanguine about keeping it.

    If the choice is between an effective Euro-military and an ineffective one, I’m going to choose ineffective.

  • DSpears

    “I suspect there are a lot of people in Britain who supported Blair on the invasion of Iraq but who became somewhat doubtful about the (legal, as distinct from moral) justification seeing as how no WMD have yet been found.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember opinion polls in Britain showing about 25% support at the beginning of the war, no?

    “…..people in Britain (which really means England) are more inclined toward the Americans than the French”

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement in itself. It almost sounds like a band-handed compliment.

    “So the US gets to opt out because it’s only got a little history, & was lucky enough to have spare land for people to expand into for most of that time?”

    No, the US “gets to” opt out or not opt out whenever it chooses to for whatever reason it chooes to. Just like France did with NATO in the 60′s, or Iraq in 2003.

    “The nature of the last couple of wars we saw over here, & the amount of devastation caused; far in excess of anything over the previous thousand years, put a fair few people off the idea of war as a means of solving problems,”

    Is that a quote from 1939 or today?

    “To expect much else from a mass of people is idealistic & perhaps commendable, but somewhat unrealistic.”

    Even from the self-annoited most enlightened, progressive, modern people on the planet? Haven’t Europeans been telling anybody who would listen that they have evolved to higher plane than teh rest of us barbarians?

  • Oscar

    “Except in universities people in Britain (which really means England) are more inclined toward the Americans than the French”

    LOL!! the same can be said about the USA too.

  • rkb

    Ralf, I’d be a little more sympathetic to your viewpoint if so many Euros, most especially including Germans, did not take so open a delight in any perceived setbacks for the US. After several years of that (and many more in a quiet way prior to 9/11), it’s more than disingenuous to say that Americans should turn the other cheek now that they are finally angry in response.

    Having said that, I am much more concerned about the practial issues of planning an effective military deployment for a 15-25 year period of turmoil than with petty cultural issues. Either Europe will get itself in gear or it won’t. I don’t much care either way. If you do, great – it benefits the world economy. If you don’t, well, I won’t be surprised, since I’ve heard my fill from Germans and French about how they will surpass American ingenuity and engineering any day now …. while I was working in Silicon Valley startups (successful, by and large). Uh huh.

    But back to the military moves: this is about many things at once. It is indeed about an overdue withdrawl from a Cold War posture. It is also about bolstering independence and relatively young democratic institutions in countries like Poland. Those who study US history know that West Point (the US Military Academy), where I teach, played a critical role in the development of the country during the 19th and 20th centuries. Military officers who graduated from the Point learned to give their allegiance to the abstract concept called “the United States” rather than to their state or ethnic or religious group. Many went on to become civic and political leaders later.

    When the US military works with the military in a fledgling democracy, it is an opportunity to share the process by which we produce a professional military firmly under civilian control. The process works, which is why so many foreign countries ask to study West Point and often model their own training on it.

    By far the main rationale for the realignment, however, is the nature of the current threat combined with our very different capabilities (vs. 40 yrs ago). We neither need nor is it optimal to keep large numbers of troops based in one place (much less in the WWII boundaries). What we do need — or at least, what is very helpful — is to have places from which equipment, supplies and first responders can be moved quickly.

    In 20 years, it’s quite possible that that need will wither away due to technology and other developments. But for now, that’s what we need for an optimal stance (insofar as there is an optimal stance) in the current environment. Ergo, the announce changes..

    All the rest is just self-indulgent emotional stuff. Understandable and a bit satisfying for reasons mentioned above, but not the real meat of the issue.

  • Oscar

    A_t:
    “the Steyn article linked to above, his comment about the Greeks cheering the Afgans more than the US is extremely churlish.”

    I think you misunderstood: he said “fair enough” and then pointed out that the Greeks were against action in Afghanistan:
    “At the time of the Afghan liberation, a poll found only 5.2 per cent of Greeks supported the war.”

    He was continuing his Volvo parable, not dissing the cheering, so much as the lack of prior commitment.

  • rkb

    One other important point. There is something of an emotional-level divorce – or at least a trial separation – going on between Old Europe and the US. Let’s keep it civil and adult.

    Whatever the future re: our sense of common history and purpose, we are all facing at least a generation of change, challenge and the potential for things to unravel — or for an overdue correction and improvement to happen among those cultures and countries who are half in and half out of the global network of trade and exchange. I’m glad that the US and many European governments are cooperating with intel re: terror planning. We all have a stake in that, no matter what other disagreements or even grudges we might carry.

  • A_t

    Wow… Dspears, touchy! I’m not asking you to sign up to Kyoto or anything.. I was just suggesting that there’s no reason to believe us Euro-weiners are any more likely to kill each other in droves than Americans or anyone else in a civilised country. R C Dean’s “A thousand years of history” doesn’t cut it as a reason to believe we will, because unless the will to war is somehow stored within the ground to be released like some evil miasma when it’s tilled, you’ve probably got an equal will to war over there.

    I’m sick & tired of all this anti-american and anti-european shite. We fundamentally agree on most things, & most of the sniping’s just dumb national chauvinism (on both sides). I like both places, but also have strong criticisms of each. I think many (most?) Europeans hold stupid views about Americans, and similarly vice-versa. I also think many of you are personalising international relations far too much & treating them like a dispute with your neighbour, when the reality is far more complex, & hopefully less petty!

  • A_t

    Also, I think this “old europe”, “new europe” stuff is rubbish; It was a category of convenience, based principally on who was willing to go along with US plans for Iraq. Considering all the countries you’re talking about are democracies, the ‘old’ and ‘new’ could be pretty mobile; Does Spain qualify as ‘old’ now? What about Italy if Berlusconi gets kicked out? What if the Poles elect a leader who opposes many aspects of US foreign policy? Do they suddenly grow ‘old’?

    It was a facile soundbite to begin with & hasn’t grown any more convincing with age.

  • Tatyana

    Unrelated to previous comments, but on topic.

    I was playing with remote yesterday and came across some French news program (those of you in NY, help me out with attribution- it was on ch.25 on Time Warner, approximately at 7:30 pm), explaining to their viewers the above-mentioned event.
    Subtitles read something like this.
    US relocate military forces:
    1) into new positions along world oil production lines – Azerbaidjan, Bulgaria (?), Poland(?)
    2) into homeland to regroup in order to be send to Iraq, because in absence of draft Bush administration can not find volunteers for Army at home anymore and Pentagon is running out of reservists.

    Can’t tell you how much hilarity ensued on my living room sofa.

  • The idea that because of the devastation caused by the World Wars, Europeans have turned away from war.

    Tell that to the Serbs Bosnians Kosovars Croats etc.

    A_T One major difference between the US and Europe is that Americans feel they can have an impact on their government. In Europe except for the threat of violence via street demonstrations people are pretty much under the thumbs of their elites. We get to screw with ours.

    This means that when the Europeans pour hate over us like bearnaise sauce on steamed asperagus, we tend to take it personally. As far as I am concerned I want revenge.

    People who are hated really have little in common with those who hate them. Europe’s elites hate us, why should we bother with anything they have to say.

  • Andrew X

    No mention here of Dale Amon’s brilliant post of about two years ago “Ending the Pin Down”. 50 words or less, Bush’s actions, including war in Iraq, are entirely about “cutting the Gordian Knots” that keep the US “pinned down” in Europe, Asia, and elswhere, and turning us into a flexible maritime power.

    Thus the great Amon plan comes to fruititon. I have cut, pasted and sent that post to multiple people.

    Nice Work, Dale. Take a bow.

  • Susan

    I don’t see any contradictions between Europe’s current pacifism and Europe’s potential for waging mass bloodletting once again. Pacifism seems to preceed war in a lot of cases, as the US found out in the 1930s.

  • Curt

    R.C. Dean:

    “I see our humorless editors have corrected my little joke in the title, originally “excellent long-term strategery” by reference to a well-known Bush malapropism. ”

    Actually, “strategery” came from a Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell (I believe) spoofing Bush. The Bush people liked it well enough that they even labeled a conference room the “Strategery Room”. But Bush never said it himself.

  • R C Dean

    Saturday Night Live, White House, what’s the diff?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    What about those willing to discharge their responsibilities but are unable to because of physical constraints? I like my country’s military and all, but we still haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell without US support. That’s why the government here is very much pro-US, and I hope we’ll remain allies and partners in the Anglosphere.

    The US serves a very important role in maintaining environments conducive to business and economic growth. Without the US presence in the Pacific for the past 60 years, there would not be any Asian economic expansion.

    Yes, I can understand how many people could see it as making US taxpayers foot the bill for our Asian prosperity, but our success also contributes through trade to those same taxpayers’ lifestyles. Products are cheaper because they’re made where costs are lower, and so on. It’s not a one-way relationship where one side gets screwed.

    TWG

  • Effra

    I don’t think there’s any grand geostrategic rationale behind Bush’s evacuation plans. More to do with the overstretch that bogged-down US forces face in Iraq; the agonising possibility of involvement in a second major theatre engagement over China/Taiwan or North Korea; and above all a desperate wish not to have to reinstate the draft to handle these commitments.

    Already senior officers are warning that enlistment in the Marines and the National Guard is dropping like a stone. The prospect of years on duty in Iraq is not appealing. We have seen what relying on civilian contractors instead can do to morale and prestige.

    Voices on both sides of Congress are demanding conscription, and it would have to be far less selective (i.e. not sparing the likes of GW Bush) this time than in the 1960s: the US’s high-tech kind of warfare requires clever middle class college types to conduct it. The suburban soccer mom vote which swings elections would be heavily against the reinstatement of the draft.

    What is now proposed– rapid-reaction strike forces centred on a few bases in safe places– is another step down the road away from mass combat and high casualty ratios. It plays well with the electorate but has little relevance to Fourth Generation wars of guerilla attrition.

    It looks as if this is another victory for the “realists” over the crusader neocons in Washington. The Military Industrial Complex won’t mind as long as it can sell more fancy kit to the new-look American forces.

  • DSpears

    “Voices on both sides of Congress are demanding conscription,”

    No they aren’t. This is simply an election years scare tactic by a few fringe congressmen to try to make people think that their little Tyler or Meagn are going to get drafted and sent off to war, so people will vote against Bush. It has no basis in reality whatsoever. None. The Bush administration has never considered it, the Pentagon has never considered it, the militray doesn’t want it, the Congress as a whole has never considered it.

    It is a non-issue. A red herring.

    But Charles Rangle thanks you for passing on this silly rumor. That was his intention.

    All of the services have more than made their recruitment quotas for the year. Enlistment in the permanent military is not an issue. Reservist re-ups are down though, understandably.

  • Tatyana

    Effra, have you listened to the French news show I posted about above?
    You’re such a good listener…
    And what a Michael Mooreish lexics: “bogged-down forces”? “desperate wish”?

    That’s your ‘desperate wish”, men. (?)

  • Susan

    What about those willing to discharge their responsibilities but are unable to because of physical constraints? I like my country’s military and all, but we still haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell without US support. That’s why the government here is very much pro-US, and I hope we’ll remain allies and partners in the Anglosphere.

    The US serves a very important role in maintaining environments conducive to business and economic growth. Without the US presence in the Pacific for the past 60 years, there would not be any Asian economic expansion

    Thank you Wobbly Guy. The whole developed world depends on the Pax Americana. However, the whole developed world doesn’t understand that elemental fact — especially the arrogant, childish Western Europeans. They need to be taught a lesson. Hopefully it will not get too ugly before they learn.

  • Effra

    The draft boards are already getting into gear:

    http://www.gazette.com/display.php?sid=1099383

    and I think we all know how likely a course of action is to come off when it’s officially said not to be in contemplation “at the present time” by the Pentagon. Army enlistment is predicted to be 10% below the minimum required in fiscal 2005. Already two-fifths of troops in Iraq are National Guard. Boy, are they getting pissed.

    Here’s what Congress’s leading libertarian, Rep. Ron Paul, has to say:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul144.html

    And I don’t think legislators such as Fritz Hollings, Charles Rangel and Chuck Hagel are just practising Macchiavellian scare tactics when they call for conscription. The congressional drumbeat is bipartisan and getting louder.

    Meanwhile:
    “David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland, says dangers in Iraq will continue to cause problems for the Army, which is supplying most of the U.S. troops there. “The recent events will have an effect on parents and spouses of soldiers,” he said. “Parents are going to increasingly question whether their kids should be in the military.”" (USA Today, April 15, 2004)

    So force ‘em in!

  • The US Army is meeting 100% of it’s enlistment goals for new recruits and close to 100% for reenlistments. Its not easy but they have been getting the guys to reenlist for a number of reasons including patriotism.

    To meet new commitments the US is forming four new brigade sized units and is expanding its end strength by about 20 000 – 30 000.

    Problems were anticipated in National Guard enlistments and reenlistments but these are a bit less than expected, my sources are relieved they had expected the whole system to collapse.

    Finally if the Army and to a lesser extent the Marines are stretched the Air Force and the Navy are not. Dealing with the Chinese and the North Koreans are largely matters for air power.

    A draft with all the problems that would involve, you must be kidding? The Army does not want it. What makes to US Army work these days is the quality of the troops. On the whole these men and women are superb individuals well trained and at the platoon and company level well led.

    If there is a problem its with a certain element of the senior leadership (Can you say General Janis Karpinski boys and girls?)

  • too true

    Rangel is about as fringe and partisan as they come in congress. Who are you trying to kid, Effra?

    I work every day with senior officers, many of them minorities. Not one supports a draft. This is a partisan club the left wing is trying to use on the Bush administration. The *last* thing we need is for our highly trained, professional military to be diluted into ineffectiveness by a general draft.

    Or maybe that’s just what Rangel et al really want.

    The realignment is about new equipment, new tactics and new threats.

  • Susan

    Well look who’s come out in favor of continuing to let the Euros have their cake and it it too:

    John Effin’ Kerry Slams Troop Pull-Out

    Are some of Kerry’s French relatives employed by NATO, perhaps?

  • Susan

    Well look who’s come out in favor of continuing to let the Euros have their cake and eat it too:

    John Effin’ Kerry Slams Troop Pull-Out

    Are some of Kerry’s French relatives employed by NATO, perhaps?

  • Hylas

    Effra

    The draft proposal certainly is Machiavellian. Rangel freely admits that the purpose of this proposal is to make it more politically difficult to use the military.

    Tatyana

    You were watching France 2 . Channel 25 is very educational. They have news programs in German, Polish, Italian, Russian, Greek… etc. It’s always amusing to see what they say about us overseas, but the French news is clearly the most amusing.

  • Verity

    Hey, Wobbly, don’t be so touchy! No one thinks Singapore is a passenger. Everyone knows that Singapore punches way above its height in military power, and also in the region. And what Susan said.

  • Tatyana

    Thank you, Hylas. It’s better than “comedy central” and I’ll circle it next time I see it in TV guide.

    Another fun bit I remember from that program was “fresh produce manufacturers” strike, as they we re called in subtitles (I assume they meant “farmers”), dumping tomatoes and peeches in front of some gov. building because of low seasonal fruit prices. I expect next to hear about new “regulatory changes” in EU towards French grocery industry.

    Yeah, more subsidies for everyone!

  • Effra

    too true: “I work every day with senior officers, many of them minorities. Not one supports a draft.”

    Not many supported the invasion of Iraq either, but they still do as they’re told– or face the same fate as Douglas MacArthur.

    I’m not saying the draft is a certainty by any means; only that the straws are in the wind and you should be afraid, very afraid, if you value individual liberty. The USA’s present commitments– let alone the crazier dreams of going into Iran and Syria in short order– are breeding vast discontent within the service, and making some legislators dust down schemes to share the misery by reinstating chattel slavery for killing.

    spacer (NY): “What makes the US Army work these days is the quality of the troops.”

    ROTFLMAO. Whaddya mean, “work”? They were supposed to beat Saddam in weeks and be out well before 2003 ended. Bush publicly poured scorn on a general who said 200,000 would be needed. The present 150,000 or so are deep in the quagmire with no exit strategy, and Kerry wants 40,000 more to go in.

    As Col. David Hackworth wrote in July:

    “Then came the invasion of Iraq – our country’s biggest military miscalculation to date – where we virtually ignored the main military objective of destroying al-Qaeda, as well as the important socio-economic opportunity to rebuild Afghanistan into the same sort of shining example for the Muslim world that West Germany once was for the Soviet Bloc states.

    “Fortunately, it’s still not too late to develop a comprehensive global strategy to eliminate our real enemy. This new direction might not be great for the warmongers, neoconservatives and war profiteers, but it would go a long way toward giving all of our grandkids a future the way our World War II victory gave one to my generation and my kids.”

  • Paul Marks

    Of course American forces should have been pulled out of Germany ten years ago (after the end of the Cold War) and of course it should not take ten more years to pull out the troops now (and, yes, President Bush is not even promising to pull out all of the troops).

    And yes the Republic of Korea is rich enough to defend itself against socialist North Korea. And the President and Parliament of Republic of Korea are not reliably pro American anyway (so why should the American taxpayer defend them?).

    But the real point here is that Senator Kerry (and General W.C. and the rest) have attacked President Bush for pulling the troops out – not for waiting too long too pull them out or not pulling them all out.

    It is a bitter pill to swallow, but Mr Kerry is generally more statist than Mr Bush – not just in most domestic policy (which I would expect him to be), but in overseas policy also.

    As a libertarian I greatly disagree with Mr Bush on many things. However, I am forced to accept that the ordinary American “gas station owner” (and other such) is correct – Mr Kerry is worse than Mr Bush.

    Clever libertarians (or libertarians who like to think of ourselves as clever) often overlook the obvious – and I am guilty of that.

  • Effra

    The quality of the troops is something that only someone who has not been paying attention can question.

    Iraq policy? Sure that’s easy to second guess and the US Government had made a lot of mistakes. Its a government what do you expect?

  • Susan

    Now I’ve heard it all:

    Anti-War German Union Worried That US Troop Pull-out Will Cost Members’ Jobs

    I really don’t understand. From my perch far, far across one large ocean and one very large continent, it’s tough for me to tell. Do people in Europe generally understand how completely bonkers you are all going? How totally nuts, insane, Orwellian, thousands-of-sandwiches-short-of-a-picnic
    you appear to an American?

  • A_t

    Susan, there are always crazies. There’s a long tradition over here of the media presenting us with the kookiest & most extreme of American behaviour, be it firebombing churches, drive-bys in East LA, or religious apocalypse-fields, & denouncing you all as nuts. Whilst things may look totally crazy to you, here on the ground they ain’t too bad. Yeah, there’s plenty dumb stuff going on, but not as bad as you make out.

  • A_t

    oops! “apocalypse *fiends*”, not fields!

  • Susan

    A_t: I rather think that the German union’s attitude is representative of a large swathe of European opinion about the war-mongering Yankee cowboys — we hate you, but we want your money anyway.

    Nothing new to this American. I was just shocked at how blatantly the hypocrisy was displayed.

  • R C Dean

    Effa claims “They were supposed to beat Saddam in weeks

    They did.

    and be out well before 2003 ended.”

    Sez who? I never saw anyone who said there would be a full pullout of US troops, or even a drawdown of any significance, by the end of 2003. There wasn’t even supposed to be a handover of sovereignty until JUne 2004. The administration has been very clear all along that this is a multi-year commitment.

    Bush publicly poured scorn on a general who said 200,000 would be needed. The present 150,000 or so are deep in the quagmire with no exit strategy,

    Exactly how would those extra troops resolve any of the problem Iraq faces today, Effa? We don’t face a military problem in Iraq, we face a political problem. Troops, especially US troops, are not the right tool for the job of solving the kinds of problems Iraq faces today. The Iraqis have to learn to govern themselves; US troops up to a certain point can give them space to figure this out, but beyond a certain point are more of an impediment than a help.

    An “exit strategy” of the kind I suspect you want is like announcing to your opponent the conditions under which you will concede defeat, or at least leave the field, to him. Exit strategies are for losers. We’re not in Iraq to lose.

  • A_t

    Susan, I quite agree they hypocrisy is breathtaking (& highly amusing, suckers!), but then one can find hypocrisy in any representative organisation (the US government refusing to condemn Saddam for the gassing of the marsh arabs, & then using it as a pretext for taking him down less than 2 decades later? or perhaps cosying up to ‘most favoured nation’ china whilst loudly condemning tyranny and trumpeting the virtues democracy). There’s often an inherent contradiction between a) being expected to have some ‘moral’ stance, but b) being expected to look out for the best interests of the people you’re supposed to represent.

    Also, there’s nothing weird or even particularly hypocritical in making money out of people you dislike; happens all the time!

  • Susan

    Also, there’s nothing weird or even particularly hypocritical in making money out of people you dislike; happens all the time!

    Indeed, A_t, but that is why we are gleeful that our troops are being pulled out of “Old Europe.”

    Europe has made a large number of Americans despise it for no good reason except ego — and they seem to think this is a clever move on their behalf.

    perhaps cosying up to ‘most favoured nation’ china whilst loudly condemning tyranny and trumpeting the virtues democracy).

    When does the US refrain from criticizing China’s human rights record? We are one of their fiercest critics and one of the fiercest denouncers of the Tiananmen Square massacre, as I recall.

    Some people think that trading with China will eventually improve their human rights record as their economy liberalizes. Not sure if I buy this theory or not, but it’s a valid point.

  • A_t

    Hmm… ok, you have a point about the criticism; I think all Western govts. condemned it in no uncertain terms, but talk is cheap, as all the UN/Euro-critical crowd here are usually keen to point out, & “most favoured nation” is rather a lot more meaningful.

    In the light of the current (stated) US ‘zero tolerance’ towards tyranny etc., it looks hypocritical to me. This idea that trade might slowly liberalise their regime sounds rather like the ‘nuanced’ Euro-approach to Iran; criticise their human rights abuses, but maintain close diplomatic relations (which again has come in for a lot of stick from various people in these comment sections), no?

    Or maybe most of it had sod-all to do with actual morality; that’s largely playing to the gallery of public opinion, & everything to do with which (necessarily nuanced; the world’s complicated) course of action those in charge judge will be profitable/beneficial for the persons in whose interests they are supposed to be working. (I’m talking here about the trade union leadership or whichever national govt. you wish to bring up).

  • A_T – the Muslims aren’t going to overwhelm Europe. Europe is going to commit demographic and cultural suicide, and the Muslims will be the last folk standing.

    And Effer, I don’t know where you get your trust of Chollie Rangel from – he insists that minorities bear the brunt of combat, when in fact U.S. combat troops are disproportionately white. His move to reinstate the draft was nothing more than an effort to whip up antiwar sentiment among the young, which was quickly disregarded by Congress. But go ahead, keep breathing the vapors. It’s easier to hallucinate about the evil Bushmonster, than it is to face the reality that the West needs to fix the botched middle east, or suffer occasional mass slaughters at the hands of Islamofascists.

  • Susan,

    that cartoon says nothing. The impact of withdrawing the troops will be small and strictly localized (the locals in question don’tz like it of course, and it is they who do the complaining, apart from that trade union chief).
    75 % of US troops were already withdrawn in the 90s.
    Americans who gloat about widespread economic impact live in a dream-world.

  • A_t

    Al Maviva, from which lofty perch have you observed to draw such conclusions on Europe’s future? What form will this ‘cultural suicide’ take? Will it be spectacular? Should I book a seat? Why will the muslims take over rather than say, Hindus, or Chinese people?

  • Susan

    Ralf: I am not gloating over the economic impact of the US troop pull-out from Germany.

    I am gloating over the thought of the high-and-mighty, oh-so-pious, oh-so-morally-superior, oh-so-lecturing-and-hectoring Europeans being forced to deal with the question of their own defense for the first time in 55 years.

    Kind of like a cop who gloats when, say, a famous liberal activist who campaigns for Mumia and shrieks about “police brutality” gets mugged.

    Oh, this is gonna be fun.

  • Hylas

    “Now we see these things, or think we see them. But they were scarcely yet visible to the Americans of 1898, for those Americans had forgotten a great deal that had been known to their forefathers of a hundred years before. They had become so accustomed to their security that they had forgotten that it had any foundations at all outside our continent. They mistook our sheltered position behind the British fleet and British Continental diplomacy for the results of superior American wisdom and virtue in refraining from interfering in the sordid differences of the Old World. And they were oblivious to the first portents of the changes that were destined to shatter that pattern of security in the course of the ensuing half-century.”

    -George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy

    It’s strange how the wheel turns, isn’t it?

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