Tuesday, August 17, 2004

This is some kneejerk anti-Bushism mixed in with the reasonable questions here. Bush has done so many bad things, no need for the Democrats to attack every word he says and water down the impact.

Democrats immediately criticized Bush, saying his plan would undermine national security and be viewed as the United States turning its back on key NATO allies, especially Germany. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander and now a military adviser to Bush's Democratic rival John Kerry, called the proposal "ill-conceived."

Clark said most terrorist hot spots around the world are "more accessible from Western Europe than from the continental U.S." He also said Bush's plan could damage relations with countries in Europe.

"At the time when we're trying to rebuild our alliance with Europe and asking them to do more in Iraq, this is a slap in the face of the Europeans," said Clark. "This is more unilateralism on the part of the administration."

Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who serves on the Armed Services committee, said Bush is "simply moving chairs around the deck" in ways that could threaten U.S. security.

A more diplomatic president could have done all this without offending the Europeans, maybe even scheduled a joint press conference. But I think we can declare that the rebuilding of Germany and Japan are pretty much complete. For all I know, Russia could one day be a threat to them - and they may have to start modernizing some of their own forces, which is fair enough. They will lose the money our military spends there - but right now I'm more worried about our finances than theirs. Even if we don't send the troops right to Iraq, they should still have time to rest and recover at home, since it seems likely they will be rotated there sooner or later.

That leaves South Korea. We already know our troops there are a tripwire, an insufficient force to defeat North Korea, but a signal that if they attack we will be involved. It's possible paring down that force by a third will send the wrong signal - but I'm not sure. If Bush was a president whom I respected I would be willing to accept his judgement in this regard.

Everyone says we kept troops in Europe after Germany was no longer a threat because of Russia. Does the same really apply to Japan? How about after the Soviet empire fell? I really think there is some sort of deep rooted feeling that occupying territory makes a nation more powerful in many minds, strong enough to override logic. Something for any pro Bush people hearing arguments against removing the troops from Europe to keep in mind, and perhaps even apply to Iraq.

Now that we're in Iraq I don't think we can just walk out, but if the people who started this war were completely wrongheaded, they aren't the ones to resolve it.

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