Tuesday, December 12, 2006

End of an era:Time to Offshore Our Troops - New York Times

David Seaton's News Links
This article from the New York Times will give many a future historian of our period a useful footnote. It marks the end of an era that began when US president Theodore Roosevelt sent the "Great White Fleet" of 16 battleships and their escorts around the world in 1907, to demonstrate America's growing military power. It was never a good idea to land base American soldiers in the Middle East. Their presence near Mecca and Medina after the First Gulf War was a provocation to Muslim radicals that led directly to 9-11. It is very good idea to withdraw them. Keeping them there may lead to unthinkable catastrophes. There is a catch, however: at any time now or in the future, their withdrawal will be seen (correctly) as a military defeat for the US. Just as Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" announced the arrival on the world scene of a new great power, the inevitable withdrawal of American soldiers under fire signals the end of America's "lone superpower" status. DS
Hillary Watch: The article states that, "Donald Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton — go further and consider strengthening our forces around the gulf by shifting some troops from Iraq to neighboring countries." Is this the "Murdoch touch"?
Abstract: The Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States withdraw its combat forces from Iraq reflects a growing national consensus that our military cannot quell the violence there and may even be making matters worse. Although many are hailing this recommendation as a bold new course, it is not bold enough. America will best serve its interests in the Persian Gulf by withdrawing its ground-based military forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire region.(...) The bipartisan authors of the report, for example, advocate maintaining “a considerable military presence in the region” including “powerful air, ground and naval deployments in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar” even after the last American combat troops leave Iraq. Others — including Donald Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton — go further and consider strengthening our forces around the gulf by shifting some troops from Iraq to neighboring countries. Maintaining a large military presence in the region has been the cornerstone of American policy since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and remains so today. With the Iraq war, we now have tens of thousands of troops elsewhere in the neighborhood. But this strategy is flawed. In fact, many of the same considerations that led the Iraq Study Group to call for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq suggest that the United States should withdraw its troops from neighboring states as well — leaving only naval forces offshore in international waters. As in Iraq, a large United States military footprint on the ground undermines American interests more than it protects them. Just as our troops on Iraqi streets have provided a rallying point for the insurgency, the United States military presence throughout the region has been a key element in Al Qaeda’s recruitment campaign and propaganda. If America withdrew from Iraq but left behind substantial forces in neighboring states, Al Qaeda would refocus its attacks on American troops in those countries — remember the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia? Worse, the continued presence of our military personnel across the region will continue to incite extremists to attack American cities. Osama bin Ladin repeatedly stated that the presence of American forces on the holy ground of the Arabian Peninsula was a primary reason for 9/11. Our presence also destabilizes our important regional allies. Not only do American bases make these countries a target for terrorists, but many of their citizens bristle at the sight of United States bases on their soil. Indeed, the most serious near-term threat to our energy interests is the overthrow of friendly governments by domestic Islamic extremists, a danger that is increased by the presence of our troops.(...) Terrorists could damage key oil fields and ports, or friendly governments in the gulf could be toppled by anti-American extremists. These concerns, however, do not justify peacetime forward deployment. United States allies play the primary role defending their own oil fields and safeguarding their internal security, and their forces are better suited for the job. If anything, the presence of “infidel” soldiers nearby increases the likelihood of terrorist attacks and political upheaval. READ IT ALL

No comments: