August 17, 2004

End the Occupation, of, er, Germany

The Arab News has an interesting piece on the Bush/Rumsfeld plan to bring the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry home from Germany. For the Arab News, it was surprisingly balanced (ie no nefarious references to Paul Wolfowitz and Ariel Sharon).

The key quote came at the end:

The German government sought to play down the significance of the US move. But an opposition spokesman said Washington was “withdrawing from part of its responsibilities in NATO,” and thereby “endangering security in Europe.”

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the election. From a force projection perspective, it seems to make sense but then again I'm not a professional in that field so I really don't know. My hunch is that it helps counter the "overstretch" argument, by freeing up our deployment basis away from precedent and inertia towards what's really necessary. In many ways it's not so radical, really the logical corollary to the base closing rounds domestically a decade ago. In many ways it's long overdue.

But I think the political effect of this is real at home and abroad: at home, it's a not so gentle reminder that American democratization abroad can and does work, as Germany, Japan, and South Korea can attest to. It also underscores the idiocy of the "There isn't a fully functioning civil society in Iraq yet? Then it's all a failure!" point of view. Sure there are serious questions about sustaining a democracy with the deep religious issues that Iraq has, but there were also probably greater concerns over whether Japan's religious culture after WW2 could handle democracy. I think the "Arabs can't handle democracy" argument put forward by the left is a thinly veiled racism, to be perfectly honest.

But the greatest political effect it will have is on the wacky left at home, gearing up for their mass demonstrations in NYC at the end of the month. Bring the troops home, eh? Be careful what you wish for.

Abroad, the be careful what you wish for effect is multiplied. I'd have paid serious euros to see the look on Herr Fischer's face when this news was delivered to them. It's time for Europe--and by that, I mean France, Germany, and Belgium--to start carrying their own bags.

Posted by Steve at August 17, 2004 10:26 PM | TrackBack
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