Friday, August 20, 2004

The anti-war left agrees with me about base closures and bringing the troops home. Some points that we both make:

Well, let's see: if North Korea really does have nuclear weapons, and would, as
many believe, launch a preemptive strike against U.S. and South Korean forces on
the peninsula if they thought an invasion was imminent, what good would those
12,000 GIs do? Most would perish in the first few hours of such a conflagration,
but Kerry has no problem with incinerating them on the altar of his ambition:
anything to score some political points off of George W. Bush.


The network of American military bases ringing the globe represents one of
the biggest international welfare schemes, ever, on several levels. It's true,
as Chalmers Johnson points out in The
Sorrows of Empire
, that these bases impose a plethora of social costs on
their often unwilling hosts: particularly in Asia, where American arrogance in
Japan and South Korea provoked mass protests and calls for closing the

And here are some points I missed:

I would also point out that the plan, which calls for repositioning U.S. troops
in Poland, Romania, and (ugh!) Uzbekistan, is really an expansion of our military presence.

U.S. troops are not abandoning Western Europe. Looked at in purely geographical terms, they are merely spreading Eastward, toward the War Party's main target of the moment: the Middle East. But also much closer to Russia, which is another obvious but curiously overlooked aspect of the Eastward Ho plan.

There is, in short, a valid critique of the realignment strategy on which the
repositioning proposal is based. But Kerry is not making it. His surprising
inversion of the old partisan polarity on this issue certainly confuses his
supporters, particularly the Anybody But Bush (ABB) contingent. But for instant
enlightenment, all you have to do is drink deeply of Kerry's Kool-Aid. Philip H. Gordon, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, must have downed a giant draught, because there he is in the Los Angeles Times bibbling to Brownstein:

"During the Cold War, bringing troops home was a
dovish thing to do. Now, it's hawkish."

Kerry's criticism shows that he has no understanding of how warfare has changed:
he poses the question of whether to retain our overseas bases not in a strategic
framework, but in terms of forging political ties with our allies:

"With al-Qaeda operating in 60 countries, we need closer alliances in every part of
the world to fight and win the war on terrorism. So, as president, I will be a
commander in chief who renews our alliances based on shared interests and a
common vision for a safer world. For more than 50 years, our allies have joined
with us to say: the future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to

But what Kerry misses completely is that every American base, in Al
Qaeda's war against the U.S., is a potential target. It's all well and good to
deny that the future belongs to fear, but somebody ought to tell that to the
voters of Spain, who never supported the invasion of Iraq and were not about to
put their lives on the line for the sake of George W. Bush's foreign policy. If
Kerry somehow believes they will make an exception for him, he is very much

As Chalmers Johnson pointed out in a commentary on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" radio program, the Kerry/Wesley Clark critique of the realignment – that it somehow "compromises" the war on terrorism – is largely irrelevant. Military bases are of little use in the struggle against shadowy terrorist cells dispersed worldwide.

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