Democratic critics of the war in Iraq have called for the redeployment of troops out of Iraq. Congressman John Murtha has suggested moving American forces back to Okinawa – without consulting the Okinawans who have regularly protested against the presence of American troops on their island. By raising the question of redeployment, Congressman Murtha has unwittingly joined many Conservatives who question America’’s deployments around the world. If American forces are in fact a destabilizing presence in Iraq, as Senator Russell Feingold believes, why are they still in Europe and South Korea?
Senator Carl Levin has stated that American forces are being used by the Iraqis to prevent them from making the hard choices and compromises necessary to make their democracy work. Couldn’‘t a similar argument be used by all of Europe – which spends next to nothing on its own defense while gradually succumbing to Leftist anti-Americanism, Islamic extremism and anti-Semitism?
If Senator Feingold is correct about our presence in Iraq having a destabilizing effect, would he agree that the presence of our forces is behind the rise of anti-Americanism throughout Europe? Vandals have targeted American cemeteries in France, desecrating graves and spray-painting ‘’Take your garbage out of our soil.’’ European politicians regularly downplay their ties to the United States. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is being forced out of his position prematurely in part for being ‘’too close’’ to President Bush. His likely successor, current Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, is attempting to distance himself from Blair’’s pro-American stances in his Parliamentary speeches.
Americans have occupied Germany for over sixty years. The initial occupation was meant to keep Germany from attacking its neighbors – something that it had done every generation on average from 1870 – 1939. However that occupation quickly morphed into a bulwark to protect Western Europe from the Communism that had spread after World War 2 and the fall of Nazi Germany.
According to Dr. Tim Kane at The Heritage Foundation, Germany is second only to Iraq in the number of American military personnel stationed on foreign soil. In 2005 65,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen were stationed in Germany – with an equal amount shared between Korea and Japan. Given Germany’’s integration into the European Union and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, what is the justification for our continued presence in Germany?
As of 2005 386,000 American troops were deployed abroad, twenty-eight percent less than the yearly Cold War era average of 536,000. However fourteen nations around the world still hosted more than a thousand US military personnel in 2005 according to Dr. Kane’’s figures. If we are going to bring our troops home from Iraq, shouldn’‘t we also bring them home from Kosovo, Iceland, Spain and South Korea? To the loved ones of those deployed it doesn’‘t matter if they are in Austria or Australia, Zimbabwe or Zambia. Their lives are disrupted – their loved ones far away.
Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has called for the resumption of the Draft. While Congressman Rangel’’s intention is to make it more difficult for a president to go to war, he has justified the draft on foreign policy grounds. Appearing on CBS’’s Face the Nation, Rangel said, ‘’If we’‘re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’‘t do that without a draft.’’
We could do it without a draft if we placed our troops where they were most needed. We could double our force in Iraq overnight simply by taking them from Korea, Japan and Germany. To combat the Taliban in Afghanistan, we could nearly triple our force to 50,000 from the current 19,500 by redeploying those currently assigned to Turkey, Kosovo, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the UK and Iceland. Several of these nations field governments that are cool to the US presence in their countries to begin with. What strategic interest does our presence serve in these nations while our enemies regroup in Afghanistan?
America only recently became a global power. Prior to 1945 the United States existed in isolation, concerned with expanding and developing its resources between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Only the specter of Communism and the experience of fighting two world wars in the span of a single generation prevented America’’s natural isolationist streak to reassert itself.
The current anti-war stance of the Democrats risks tapping into the latent isolationism of Americans. When it comes to Iraq there is little separating the attitudes of many of the party’’s elite, like former president Jimmy Carter, from Harry Browne, former presidential candidate from the Libertarian Party. Although supposedly ideological opposite to the Democrats, the Libertarians have consistently maintained isolationist policies that are often promoted by the Republican Party to rally its conservative base. In its quest for power, the Democrats have instead taken up the Isolationist mantle, creating a unique political realignment of the American electorate.
By using the Iraq War as an issue to attain political power, the Democratic Party risks fanning isolationist flames it has unwittingly stoked over the past three years. Should the party succeed in ‘’redeploying’’ American forces in Iraq, it may find itself fighting a conflagration of Isolationism that questions American troop deployments worldwide – from Kosovo to Kuwait, Thailand to Turkey.