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"Maybe It's Time for NATO to Die"

Our reader Sue wrote this comment:
Maybe it's time for NATO to die. It's outlived its function. Maybe there is no value to the Atlantic military alliance. I certainly don't see one for the USA. I like Europe culturally, but the emotional connection America has to Europe will fade as the bulk of our immigrants increasingly come from elsewhere. In thirty years, the American populace will not be willing to fight any wars in Europe for any reason.  The Kosovo war was the last gasp of American interference in European wars. The next time we will be in a big war (Iraq is not big), it will be in Asia or Africa.

Bloggers Round-up: The whole Beauty of Democracy

McWiderstand in Berlin-Kreuzberg: "McDonalds is opening up a branch in hostile territory." ¡No Pasarán! and Drive In, Puke out.

Partisan Politics: "Recent data collected by the Washington Post would seem to suggest that among members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats are more partisan than Republicans." The Moderate Voice

Obama Girl Does Street Battle With Her Nemesis: Radio Free Mike:

The YouTube Effect: CNN/YouTube 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate: Jewels in the Jungle (We should have it Germany)

"The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my ideological match:" The Duck of Minerva

Orangutan's Art in Germany

Spiegel International:
An orangutan is holding his first solo exhibition of his paintings in a zoo in Germany. Like many artists, he knows the therapeutic value of art: He took up painting after his partner died.
Please, don't accuse Germany of Anti-Americanism, when you learn the name of the orangutan. "Buschi" means "bushy" and refers to his long hair, I guess.

Reductions of US Troops in Europe Could Impede US Operations

"Some American defense officials are reconsidering a plan to cut the troop force in Europe in half," writes Gordon Lubold in the Christian Science Monitor (HT: Marian) on April 24, 2007. The main reason for the criticism of the planned troop reductions is that roughly 75 percent of the US force in Europe is either deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, is about to go, or just returned and both wars are expected to take longer. This means:
Many senior defense officials are concerned that the plan to cut by nearly half the number of forces in Europe could make it difficult to support American interests in the European theater. The troop reductions, they say, go too far.
"I am very apprehensive about how low we are taking capabilities of the US Army in Europe," says one senior defense official in Europe, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions.
For years, the presence of more than 110,000 US troops at big, established bases in places like Germany and Italy has been seen as a cold-war relic. In 2002, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld oversaw an initiative to reduce the American military footprint in Western Europe in favor of smaller, more agile forces at temporary bases in places like Romania and Bulgaria. That would put US forces in far less stable areas and make them far more relevant.
Under the plan unveiled in 2005, many of the extra forces are to be returned to the United States. By 2012, only about 60,000 US personnel would remain in Europe.
But that was so two years ago. Today, those assumptions may not hold. Russia's democratic reforms have moved in reverse, and Iran has emerged as a potentially serious threat. In addition, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted longer than expected, which has tapped American forces based in Europe who would otherwise be engaged in European Command missions such as building "partner nation" capacities. That has made it difficult for European Command to pursue a new, more active strategy with these nations and potentially prevent problems before they occur. Indeed, exercises and other military engagements across Europe and in Africa have had to be canceled because the command has or will have fewer troops. (...)
There is another problem of a more practical nature: The forces the Army is returning to the US don't have a place to go. Congress has only partially funded the Base Realignment and Closure Act, which governs a series of base closings and consolidation.
Personal comments: Is "building partner nation capacities" still in the US interest, since many European partners do not want to commit that many troops to US led wars? Isn't that the (correct) perception of more and more Americans? See the debates on for instance.
Anyway, I think it is interesting that it's US defense officials, who are voicing their opposition to the troop reduction plans. German officials are not lamenting the troop reductions, except for local city governments who lose revenue. Most Germans would not mind if all US troops would continue to stay here. The troops are welcome, but not US nukes.
I think it is fair to say that most Germans are not concerned that they will be attacked as a consequence of a US troop withdrawal. The US troops based in Germany are not seen as the big brother that protects us poor Germans, as some US bloggers like to pretend. What some folks apparently don't understand: US troops are in Europe to serve US interests (incl. the promotion of NATO). They are not doing charity work for defenseless Europeans, who desperately need "capacity building." If US and German troops practice together, then both sides and NATO as whole benefit. See also this post in the Atlantic Review:
German and American Volunteers Support US Soldiers at Landstuhl Military Hospital.

Frustrated by Anti-Americanism, US Exchange Students Try to Change German Attitudes

"US students are having a hard time in Germany, as they find themselves having to justify Washington policy from day to day. A new pilot project in German schools is meant to help Americans deal with the endless drill" writes Jan Friedmann in Spiegel:
Despite his affinity for German culture, Janssen has hardly been welcomed with open arms. "I don't like having to play diplomat here," he complains. Many of the roughly 3,200 US students enrolled in foreign study programs in Germany share Janssen's experience. They are reluctant ambassadors, routinely taken to task by students and even complete strangers for the perceived offences of their government at home -- an affront that visiting students and academics from China, Russia and Arab countries rarely encounter.
Continue reading "Frustrated by Anti-Americanism, US Exchange Students Try to Change German Attitudes"

Germany's Biggest Bank to Cut Business Ties to Iran

This is good news from DW World:
US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey had recently paid a visit in person to German banks and other companies to persuade them to stop doing business with Tehran and was successful in making his case to Deutsche Bank. (...)
According to Der Spiegel, the Iranian government has channeled some of its foreign currency earnings to German banks. The total held by German financial institutions topped 6.55 billion euros ($8.9 billion dollars).(...)
The Securities and Exchange Commission list stated that Siemens has business dealings with all five named "sponsors of terrorism" while BASF is linked solely with Iran. Deutsche Bank has connections with both Iran and Sudan.
Yes, a lot more needs to be done, especially regarding Siemens. See these posts in the Atlantic Review:
Sudan Divestment Campaign Against Siemens and Others Gets Stronger
Genocide: U.S. calls for more sanctions against Sudan, but Germany sees business opportunities

Besides, the German government should not just reduce, but end the Hermes export gurantees for business with Iran. See the Atlantic Review post: WSJ: "How the EU subsidizes trade with Iran"

American and European Business Groups Cooperate to Lobby for Uniform Rules

The Hill:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its European counterpart have joined in a formal alliance to lobby a new U.S.-European Union entity tasked with harmonizing trans-Atlantic business regulations. The organizations of large U.S. and European companies devised the alliance, known as the Global Regulatory Cooperation Project, as a means of unifying their efforts to promote business-friendly policies in fields such as intellectual property, antitrust enforcement, investment rules and regulatory standards.
Related post in the Atlantic Review: European Union Directive: American Exporters Must Use the Metric System Only (11 comments)