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Transatlantic Alliance

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By Ronald D. Asmus


Harry Truman must be turning over in his grave. The planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe and Asia that U.S. President George W. Bush announced last week, if allowed to stand, could lead to the demise of the United States' key allieances across the globe, including the one that Truman considered his greatest foreign accomplishment: NATO.

Bush proposes something that generations of U.S. diplomats and soldiers fought to prevent and that its adversaries sought and unsuccessfully to achieve: radical reduction of U.S. political and military influence on the European and Asian continents.

The Bush message, delivered at a campaign rally, also smells of politial opportunism. Under pressure but unable to withdraw troops from Iraq, the president has instead reached for what his advisers hope is the next best thing politically - a pledge to bring the boys home from Europe and Asia.

Whether this is good or bad politics remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that it is bad strategy and bad diplomacy, for which the United States is likely to pay a heavy price.

The reasons are fairly simple. In Europe after the Cold War, the United States decided to significantly reduce its former troop levels but to leave sufficient military forces on the ground to accomplish three objectives: help ensure that peace and stability on the continent would endure; have the capacity to support NATO and European Union expansion and project the communities of the democracies eastward; and provide the political and military glue to enable U.S. allies to reorient themselves militarily and prepare, together with the United States, to address new conflicts beyond the continents borders.

Each of these remains important. Each will be undercut by the president's plan.

With transatlantic relations badly frayed, Russia turning away from democracy and the United States facing the challenge of projecting stability from the Balkans to the Black Sea, Washington should be putting forward a plan to repair the transatlantic alliance, not ruin it.

In Asia, the stakes are just as high and the challenges perhaps greater. There the United States facecs the long-term challenge of managing the rise of China as a great power. North Korea's eventual collapse and the unification of Korea will raise the question of that country's future geopolitical orientation. Such seismic events will undoubtedly have a considerable impact on the evolution of Japan's role and orientation as well.

U.S. diplomats will have their hands full over the next decade or two trying to win the war on terrorism and help manage the multiple strategic transitions - and will need every ounce of U.S. political and military leverage and muscle if they are to get it right.

In an act of diplomatic hara-kiri, the president proposes to destroy one of the key pillars of U.S. influence just when this kind of leverage is likely to be needed the most.

The president's plan is, unfortunately, further evidence of the strategic myopia that has afflices this administration and is undercutting the United States' standing in the world.

At a time when the U.S. should be mobilizing and reinvigorating its alliances in Europe and Asia, it is dismantling them.

Instead of creating multilateral structures to mobilize the world in a common struggle agains terrorism and new anti-Western ideologies and movements, the U.S. opts for a unilateral course that leaves it with fewer friends.

As opposed to balancing the political and military requirements of a new era and coming up with a new troop deployment plan that meets both needs, the administration allows the Pentagon to ride roughshod over broader U.S. strategy and diplomacy and destroy the work of generations of diplomats and soldiers.


-Washington Post(This message has been edited by Achilleez)

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So when the US sent its military to Afghanistan and to Iraq we were accused of being a rogue nation, wanting to inflict out values and culture on the entire world, and we are termed bad. Then when we want to end our military prescence in Europe, where we really aren't needed anymore, are we? Cant the French and Germans stand on their own two feet along with the rest? In Asia its the same thing, the South Koreans dont want us around, we remind them we helped them.


So, when we come to a region we are wrong, when we leave a region we are wrong, you would think once in awhile, we would be right...

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It isn't a popularity contest. If you are aiming to effectively counteract terrorism then a global network of allies and military presence is necessary. Should the unpopularity of the war in Iraq force a decision on a matter like this?

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Achilleez, have you seen any TV coverage of the devastation in Punta Gorda, Florida? How much aid has the Canadian parliment designated to go there? Or any country?


Who apointed the US head of the world wide anti-terrorism squad? When we act we are told we presume to much, when we dont act, people ask where are the Americans

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I served in a communications unit where a sizeable number of us were shipping out to Saudi Arabia to fill gaps in other units. The Saturday night prior to us leaving the beautiful city of Neu Ulm, we had a going away party. The pub was owned by an American Sergeant and his German wife, he wasn't going with us, and wasn't very well liked, but we liked his pub. Anyway, we were almost to the point of group singing, when someone smarted off to a group of young infantry guys, who weren't going to the desert. Something was said like, "you jokers stay awake on guard duty and keep the area around the dumpsters clean." Whoa Woohoo. Bar fight. Dukes were flying, glasses were flying, women were screaming in two languages!!! Never saw anything like it. Right out of a John Wayne movie. Five minutes later, the wail of the Polizei vans was heard coupled with the MP sirens. The Polizei had German Shepards with them. The MPs looked angry. Polizei to my left. MPs with batons to my right. Trail Pounder had just got promoted to staff sergeant the week before. Geronimo. It was about an eight foot drop down into some weeds and onto the Danube river walk, didn't hesitate, up and over, thump and I'm off. Down the walk, up the stairs, and into a taxi I went. Back to the Kaserne. As I walked from the gate to my barracks, here comes two MP vans filled with my soldiers and buddies, and they were all waving and yelling at me. I am so busted. Got yelled at by the first sergeant, the captain, and our sergeant major, nothing official, the CO said, "What should we do with them, send them to war?"


Germany was so much fun. I can't believe I got paid.

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I would have thought that you of all people might be able to see past the political mud to the real issue, that is, the reduction of the U.S.'s capability to counteract terrorist operations. What does it matter whether it was Republicans, Democrats, or the Communist Party of America who does it? You can forget all the people who still like to say the U.S. is imperialistic and trying to force assimillation because it's all political bull****.




I have seen plenty of TV coverage about Punta Gorda not to mention it covering the front page of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record for several days. I don't know how much aid was sent by Parliament itself, but I do know several people who volunteered to attend a MCC (Mennonite Church Canada)service trip down there and I contributed personally to a releif fund being held by my church. ($50)

Canadian peacekeeping troops have been present in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Yugoslovia, Germany, France, Israel, North Korea and many more still have been the recipient of our foriegn aid. But what does that have to do with anything? You all seem to want to turn this into another foreign political insult to America when I am stating a strategic falacy in your foreign relations plan. How will the war of terror benefit from it?

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While I agree that the U.S. is a super power, and has a moral obligation to defend its allies, we cannot be everywhere all the time. With the implosion of the USSR, the need for a buffer in Western Europe to fend off communist aspirations is basically non-existence. The greater concern, as youve noted, is terrorism and the need to contain and disarm those rogue nations that embrace their cause. The Middle East is the obvious hot spot. Bush is simply being smart about how we distribute our military resources.


Certainly Europe is a target for terrorism. However the threat that Germany and others face is not the potential force of an invading army. The threat that Europe must confront is militant religious radicals who masquerade as peaceful citizens. The power of the U.S. military will not dissolve that threat. Especially since so many Western European leaders want to bury their head in the sand and blame their woes on America. The key to peace and security in Europe depends on the Europeans themselves and their leaders. They must face these ugly truths: 1) the terrorist threat is real, 2) it is a long-term problem, and 3) Europe is as much a target as America. Upon accepting these realities, they must be brave and persistent in this fight. They cannot dismiss the threat by cowardly placating to the demands of those who hate the U.S. Once they come to grips with these truths, then they can start addressing the problem in a real way. Otherwise, their weak-kneed and shameful approached to terrorist threats (i.e., the elections in Spain) will only invite more violence.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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