Thursday, May 24, 2012

Different agendas, illustrated

What to do, when the self-appointed 'leadership' class has such widely divergent priorities from the people they allegedly serve?
The Rasmussen polling organization is out with a shock poll that the entire Washington establishment needs to study: 51 percent of voters surveyed said they wanted all US troops out of Europe, now. Only 29 percent favored keeping the troops where they are. US troops have been in Europe since World War Two. In the Cold War, they not only kept the Russians out; they gave the rest of the Old World the confidence that Germany would not come storming back for a rematch. The presence of US troops helped give western Europe its longest era of peace since Roman times.

Since the end of the Cold War the US presence in Europe has made much less sense to the average American, but foreign policy junkies like yours truly think that it still serves a purpose. Not only do those troops provide security in new NATO countries like Poland and the Baltic republics; US bases in Europe are important in dealing with terror and other problems in the Middle East and without the US presence in Europe it is unlikely that NATO in its present form can survive. 
Therein lies the problem.  A sheltered, privileged class wants to continue playing Team America: World Police, while the bulk of Americans are worried about more immediate matters -- like lacking a paycheck, or being underwater on their home, or the continuing increase in the price of basic necessities.

Even if more than 29 percent of the public were keen on keeping tens of thousands of troops an ocean away from home, the reality, as Vox so eloquently puts it, is "you're BANKRUPT, dude!"


Anonymous said...

How about asking countries protected by the U.S. military to pay the costs of their defence? Would not it be better than just sending all troops home?

Jemison Thorsby said...


Stationing troops around the world has presented an irresistible temptation to throw our weight around. Our diplomatic and "moral" influence now pales in comparison to the international view of our military presence.

We have now extended 'security guarantees' to many nations whose status is not a vital national interest. Years ago, a Chinese general remarked that America wouldn't really defend Taiwan because "Taipei isn't worth L.A." I think he was correct, both in the calculation of value, and the likelihood of Americans supporting a fight that would be very expensive. And that's just one of scores of such commitments we've issued with abandon.

It's one thing to form coalitions of common interest when crisis occurs. It's quite another to maintain a system of vassal defense clients. The latter is the kind of "permanent entangling alliances" George Washington warned against, where we tie our nation's fate too closely with that of others.

Global reach: yes
Global influence: yes
Global hegemony: no, thank you

Jemison Thorsby said...

More to consider, here.

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