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Friday, June 4, 2004

Let's p*ss off Germany next

Bush and Rumsfeld are planning to pull two Army divisions (tens of thousands of soldiers) out of Germany. There's talk of a wing of our F-16 fighters being moved out of that country as well -- maybe six dozen of those aircraft.

The navy's European headquarters is going to be moved out of England and over to Italy. Perhaps we'll pull our fighter jets out of Iceland and alienate everybody there, too.

To add insult to injury, let's keep telling them that this has nothing to do with Iraq -- we would have done all this even without that war.

When the last of our allies isn't speaking to us any more, we can just erect a Star Wars anti-missile system and tell the whole world to go screw themselves.

As far as I can tell, that's George Bush's America. How embarrassing.

Comments (14)

Jack, what are US troops doing in Germany now? Are they protecting Germany from Austria? Or perhaps ensuring that Switzerland doesn't get sassy?

Troops go where they need to be -- at the moment, that's Iraq. (As you seem to have mentioned below. Or would you rather have a draft?)

I agree with the overall sentiment that American troops are excellent goodwill ambassdors for a nation, etc., etc. However, US troops are not civic works projects for the German economy.

As Colin Powell has pointed out, the Germans have always been very accommodating in allowing us to move our troops out of Germany to hot spots, when necessary. And our troops very much like being stationed there.

Once we leave (and I'm sure they'll discover a bunch of toxic pollution we're leaving behind), don't expect the Germans ever to welcome us back at that level. If Iraq ever winds down to 50,000 U.S. troops, you can pay to send the rest back home until the next time. Or maybe they'd rather be stationed in Turkey.

NATO? Looks like Bush is relegating that, right along with the UN, to the dustbin of history. Let's go it alone.

NATO? Who do they protect against? Wasn't Russia applying for membership to NATO?

Why shouldn't we put our money into friendlier confines? I mean, you wouldn't give campaign money to GW, would you?

I'm confused. Is the purpose of our Army to enrich the German economy, or is it to kill people and break things? I always thought it was the latter.

In support of the latter, you want the troops and their equipment to be as close as possible to the places where you're likely to fight. That's not Western Europe.

As much as Germany may let us move about as we please (though I suspect that has more to do with the Status of Forces agreement than with German hospitality), it takes a while to move heavy things long distances. The closer you are, the faster you can respond. You can get away with basing Stealth bombers in Nebraska (or wherever it is that they live), but tanks and other very heavy things benefit from being as close to where they're going to be used as you can get them.

I vaguely remember Rumsfeld talking about this sort of thing well before the war in Iraq. That said, I'm sure Germany's helpfulness during the War in Iraq didn't help to postpone that decision.

It all comes down to what you think the purpose of our military is. Are we there to be Germany's armed forces, thus allowing them to spend a pittance on their own, or are we there because at one point, that was where the action was going to be? If the latter, then shouldn't we ensure that we're always as well located?

So once we station forces in a country, we're obligated to keep them there forever just to pump American military spending into that country's economy? What a load. They're OUR goddamn troops and we should put them where they're needed. Why would we still care about the opinions of countries who have actively worked to oppose us for at least the past 2 years?

And of course NATO is fading into oblivion - its raison d'etre was the Cold War. I'm suprised it still has as much life as it does, more than 10 years after the Cold War ended.

And Bush is relegating the UN to the dustbin of history? I guess that explains why he made every effort before the war to convince the UN that the war was necessary, and why he's relying in part on the UN to assist with the transition in Iraq. It's more that the UN deserves, given the recent revelations of even more sex scandals and the oil-for-food payola.


and the fact that the UN were going to apparently let Saddam avoid WMD inspectors for ANOTHER 12 years before doing something other than sanctions (which weren't really affecting Saddam himself)

I know WMD haven't been found. But had Saddam actually complied with the UN like he was supposed to years ago and granted inspectors full access, the situation might be quite different right now.

Gee Jack, not much more I can say that others haven't already said. I was stationed in Germany from 1975-1984 with a short break in the U.S. I loved it there, but if just liking the country is a reason to keep troops there, I liked Thailand even better.

There's no reason for us to keep the troops strength we have in Germany. There's no real reason to keep the troops on the DMZ in Korea. Moving them to more useful locations is just recognizing reality.

NATO and the UN are relegating themselves to the dustbin of history. Passing out empty threats in the form of unenforced resolutions is no way to convince the world of your seriousness.

It's not true that violence settles nothing; the truth is, violence or the credible threat of it settles EVERYTHING.

But I'm just a warmongering schmuck and you're a highly educated tax attorney. What do you know about violence?

(Did you know that warmongering is included in the iespell dictionary?)

John, I don't deny the need to "carry a big stick." But you can either make friends and protect each other, or tell everybody to kiss off and try to do all your protection on your own. It seems to me that the Bush crew is going the latter route, and it isn't going to work in the long run.

Protect each other? I understand how we're protecting Germany. We're protecting them from the need to invest substantial amounts of cash in their armed forces. That, and we are, by our presence, keeping the warmongering French from trying to take them over yet again.

I don't see how the reverse is true -- how is Germany protecting us? Perhaps, by keeping them happy (boosting their economy, employing their citizens, etc), we're making them likely to share info with us or to give us cover when someone just needs killin'. That's a really really expensive way to buy your friends.

I'd much rather have our troops stationed in a place where they're a) wanted, and b) are much closer to where they can do some good if needed.

In fact, whether or not they like us is almost a secondary issue (though it may have been the proverbial straw). The fact of the matter is that it doesn't make any strategic sense to have our troops in Germany anymore. It didn't make sense under Clinton, either. Why should we have a huge number of troops and equipment stationed in an expensive country, far from where they're likely to be used, when we can have them in a cheaper country, closer to where they're likely to be deployed? As a fringe benefit, the countries to which we're moving are much more likely to benefit, both socially and economically, from our presence than is Germany.

I thought the whole point of Iraq was to protect the U.S. from "terr."

And we're having to do that without a lot of our traditional friends. And we're bringing home lots of our kids in boxes. And there's no end in sight. It would be nice to have half as many U.S. troops there, and more troops from places like Germany.

Instead,we'll spend billions in places like Turkey. Some help they'll be.

I think you're switching subjects. We were talking about the pros and cons of having our armed forces stationed in Germany. Regardless of whether or not we went into Iraq, the future hotspots of the world were not going to be in the middle of Western Europe.

But what the heck, let's switch. Yes, it would have been nice to have more allies on board. Unfortunately, some of them seem to have had ... er ... conflicts of interest that would likely have prevented them from ever agreeing to anything likely to stop their particular gravy train. Germany doesn't seem to have had the same conflicts, and yes, I think it's unfortunate that we don't have their help. They, however, made their choice.

So the question then is whether or not the benefits of liberating Iraq with the help of Britain, Australia, Italy, and others outweighs the costs of not having Germany, Russia, and France along for the ride. I think it was worth it, even if we had to do it with less assistance.

To some extent (I assume you agree that the world is a better place without Saddam), I think you disagree. I'm not sure we're going to convince each other of anything, though.

The consistent thread in Bush's approach to our European "allies" is his disdain for what they think or feel.

We can all play armchair general until the cows come home, but moving big chunks of troops around isn't simply a military exercise. I would argue that it's primarily an act of diplomacy.

You guys who are so anxious to call NATO defunct or anachrononistic...let's talk when the EU makes a big break with the US in a few years and suddenly the euro is the primary denominator for international investment. Let's laugh it up, and celebrate our hard-headedness, when the EU creates its own large standing army. Etc.

What do you guys think, that the US is held in special favor by God, and that no matter how we treat the rest of the world, they will always need us? What empire has ever survived on that precious logic?

And we should just shut up and grin and bear it when the EU-crats demonstrate their disdain for us, I suppose. "Allies" who do their best to drag their feet and interfere in the attempts of other allies to gain international agreement are not allies worth having. Especially when they're busily (and illegally) sucking billions out of the economy of the nation everyone claims to be so concerned about.

As for the EU building a large standing army...I'll watch for flying pigs. But if that does happen, and we're relegated to a seat at the card table of the international family, well, I guess we'll just have to posture and preen and pretend we still matter. You know, like the French.

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