You should read this column by Eric Margolis
from today's Toronto Sun on the subject of Bush's recent announcement of major US military redeployments. Withdrawals from Germany and South Korea have been getting a fair amount of flak
in the US media. Kerry has critisized
it for being 'the wrong signal to send at the wrong time'.
I don't know enough about the issues to make my own assessment. On the one hand, it's plain that the Bushies think they can benefit by saying that they're bringing the troops home - even when it's not the same troops everyone wants to see come home. Moreover, Kerry's 'wrong message, wrong time' critique is pretty reasonable. It looks like more Bush petulance: the US is punishing South Korea and Germany for not supporting Bush on key issues. Alternatively, you might be justified in thinking that the US is rewarding North Korea for building nuclear weapons. Finally, if the European withdrawal means a weakening of NATO or the more general US-European alliance, then it could be very bad for world security.
But on the other hand, despite post-Cold War reductions, it's really pretty bizarre that the US has kept so many soldiers in Western Europe all this time. Militarily, at least, it seems totally unnecessary. There's a less strong case to be made about the US presence in South Korea, but it can be made, and Margolis makes it
, so I won't bother repeating it. Furthermore, the stabilizing effect of US forces might be put to better use elsewhere.
With these considerations in mind, I draw your attention to two points in the column:
Removal of U.S. forces from Germany, with the inevitable reduction of power, even raison d'etre, of NATO, means declining U.S. political influence over Europe. This, in turn, will allow a united Europe to develop that is a full-scale partner, not a vassal, of the United States -- a most welcome geopolitical development. One wonders if the Bush administration's limited thinkers understand this vitally important point.
...Meanwhile, the U.S. will open new bases in Bulgaria and Romania as part of America's new "imperial lifeline." They will be linked to new U.S.
bases being built across Central Asia, Pakistan, Iraq and the Gulf, designed to cement Washington's hold on the Muslim world and its natural resources.
As a result, the entire armed forces are being restructured for "expeditionary warfare," (the British used to call it "the imperial mission"). ... These dramatic new deployments signal further expansion of military operations around the globe as America comes ever closer to resembling its forbear, the British Empire. Most Americans, however, remain unaware of their government's new imperial plans to rule oil and the Muslim world, and of the unexpected conflicts that lie in wait for America's increasingly far-flung expeditionary forces.
So Margolis comes out in favour of a withdrawal from Europe (and even South Korea), but sees these things as signalling a new phase in the rise of the American Empire. It's not a wholly comforting vision.