Is America at
Last Coming Home?
At the close of his address to the Veterans of
Foreign Wars a week ago, President Bush announced a redeployment of 70,000
U.S. troops and 100,000 family members and civilian employees from overseas
Some of the troops may go to East Europe or Central Asia, but, mainly, they
and their families will be coming home to the United States.
Two cheers for George W. Bush, the only caveat being that the redeployments do
not begin for two years.
Hopefully, the president's decision will be the first of many to close foreign
bases dating to the late Cold War period. We are Americans, after all, not
Why should there be any U.S. forces in Germany, 15 years after the Berlin Wall
came down and 10 years after the Warsaw Pact disintegrated, the Red Army went
home, the Soviet Empire collapsed and the Soviet Union broke apart into 15
countries? What is the threat to America from east of the Elbe? Is it the
Sixty years after World War II, why is America still responsible for defending
Old Europe, where the only invaders are illegal aliens in leaky boats?
The Paris-Berlin axis of Chirac and Schroeder, with its hairy-chested defiance
of America, is surely capable of defending Munich. Why not deed NATO, which
sits in Brussels, to the European Union, which sits in Brussels, and let fat,
rich Old Europe pay for and provide for its own defense?
Since 1989, a seminal year in world history, there has been a dearth of fresh
thinking in both parties. Thus, one is unsurprised to hear John Kerry lambaste
President Bush for daring to close bases first established when this writer
was in parochial school.
The purpose of NATO, created in 1949, was to deter war with Stalin's Soviet
Union and, if war came, to block an onslaught by a Red Army that might reach
the Rhine in a week and bring all of Western Europe under Moscow's control,
shifting the world balance of power against the West. But, now that the Soviet
army is gone from East Germany, what is the U.S. Army doing in West Germany?
The only alliance this country entered before NATO was the 1778 pact with
France. Washington welcomed that alliance, which brought French troops and
ships to America, for it meant victory in our war of independence. But no
sooner was the war over than our statesmen were trying to wiggle out of the
alliance with King Louis, who would eventually lose his head to a revolution.
President Adams finally succeeded in 1800.
Even in World War I, Woodrow Wilson insisted the United States fight as an
"associate," not an allied power of Britain, Russia and France.
Among the most successful alliances in history, NATO kept Moscow at bay
without our having to fight a European or world war. So long as Moscow had
huge armies in Eastern Europe and East Germany, most Americans backed NATO and
opposed Democratic schemes to draw down U.S. troops. But those days are gone.
Yet, when the Cold War ended, not only did we rope in the Czech Republic,
Hungary and Poland to NATO, but Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well. Today,
NATO planes provocatively patrol the Russian-Lithuanian border. What are we
How does an alliance with Estonia that commits us to war against a
nuclear-armed Russia, should Moscow invade that tiny republic, strengthen
America? It was at our urging that Russia walked out of those Baltic states.
Why did we sandbag them by going in ourselves? Why are we rubbing their nose
in their diminished status as a world power by planting NATO forces on St.
Petersburg's front porch? How would Americans react to Russian air patrols out
of Nova Scotia?
When the United States came to South Korea's rescue, 50 years ago, it had been
a backward colony of Japan since Teddy Roosevelt's time. Today, it is a
dynamic nation with twice the population of North Korea, an economy 40 times
as large and access to the most advanced planes, ships, guns, missiles and
tanks in the U.S. arsenal.
Keeping 35,000 U.S. troops there only ensures that Americans will be killed
and America committed from day one, should a second Korean War break out. As
Americans are not going to send an army to fight such a war, is this wise? And
with North Korea building nuclear weapons, U.S. troops on the DMZ would be a
President Bush should move U.S. forces off the peninsula, remove this irritant
to our relations with both Koreas, and restore our freedom of action as to
when and whether we wish to intervene in a second Korean War. Our alliance
with Seoul is surely in South Korea's interest – it guarantees her the backing
of the most powerful nation on earth. But how does such a commitment halfway
around the world strengthen the United States?
This country has handed out IOUs to go war to rescue scores of countries.
Should two or more of those IOUs be called at once, we shall learn what
foreign policy bankruptcy means.
© 2004 Creators
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