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Steyn: "World Should Give Thanks for America"

Hyperbole Alert! Mark Steyn writes in the OC Register:

On this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.
Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.
If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.

Well, some European relief agencies are pretty fast as well: German relief experts at work in New Orleans. Still, I agree that the US military is the fastest and biggest provider of emergency help around the world. And Berliners continue to be grateful for the Airlift: During the 15 months long blockade of West Berlin in 1948-49, the US Air Force delivered everything the West-Berliners needed to survive (food, fuel, medicine, hope) in 190.000 flights.

I tend to agree with Steyn's comment on the European "token forces," but I doubt that "the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable," if the US reduced its defense spending. He is exaggerating the influence the United States currently has.

Anyway, Germans continue to have many reasons to be thankful for everything Americans have done for us. And I am thankful for many things, including the constantly growing number of Atlantic Review readers, commenters and guest bloggers. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Germans probably are not very thankful for Defense Secretary Gates' decision to freeze plans for further reducing Army forces in Europe. It is my impression that Germans don't consider US bases in Germany as a requirement for national security. (German readers, what do think?) The local communities surrounding the bases, however, will probably be thrilled to be able to continue business with the US forces.

The New York Times reports that the US "will maintain about 40,000 soldiers in Germany and Italy, nearly twice as many as had been envisioned under a drawdown that began two years ago, according to senior Pentagon and military officials." This issue was discussed on Atlantic Review last week, when Gates has not yet made the decision: US Forces May Stay Longer in Europe.

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Fuchur on :

Well, one thing is clear: Although "the German soldier" may be operating under restrictions in Afghanistan, his job is still indefinitely riskier and more valuable than all the things armchair hero Mark Steyn has done in his whole life. Words cannot express my disgust for idiots like Steyn who've never risked anything, but think they have the moral authority spit in the face of European soldiers who risk their life every day to make this world a better place. If he thinks he's up to the job, why doesn't Steyn collect a few thousand of his friends and goes to, say, Northern Afghanistan to operate those photocopying machines himself? If he's not, than he should at least have the dignity to say "thank you" to the guys who do.

Bernd on :

What do we think? The Germans love the US for what they did to them after the war. Most Germans are aware that, wouldn't it have been for the US, all of Germany would have joined eastern Europe or worse. I remeber very well my Grandfather's stories about this escape from (now Polish) eastern Germany, trying every little trick to get into the US sector, because he knew that he was safe there. This is also the main reason why the Germans are so emotional about the current course the US are taking. How do you behave if your best friend and role model starts behaving incomprehensibly, heavily violating his own principles that you have learned to admire?

Oliver on :

Do we mind to have US bases in Germany? Me thinks American soldiers abroad tend to isolate themselves from their hosts. Apart from their valued but overestimated impact on local economy and their supposely not always valued impact on local girls, no one really cares about them. People do mind if thoses bases are used for what is perceived as "sinister plots", i.e. certain CIA operations. As European governments are seen as too shy to intervene, one feels a bit helpless. Abstract: 1. GI Joe is welcome. 2. Dishonorable use of bases ist not. It would be interesting to have a German (or French, or Saudi-Arabian) base in - say - Florida, though.

Reid of America on :

Oliver says "It would be interesting to have a German (or French, or Saudi-Arabian) base in - say - Florida, though." Germany has an Air Force base in New Mexico. It is the only foreign military base in the US.

Joerg on :

Is it a real base? I thought the German Air Force is "just" regularly sending pilots for training. As do other NATO members, I assume...? Please post any more info you have.

Reid of America on :

Found this wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holloman_Air_Force_Base#German_Air_Force_Flying_Training_Center

Don S on :

"It is my impression that Germans don't consider US bases in Germany as a requirement for national security." I agree. In fact US bases have not been a requirement for German national security for many years now - since Gorbachev IMHO. So the US threatening to withdraw from Germany has not been a very effective threat - and should not be used as a threat. It's more like a incredibly obvious policy move at this point. If you don;t need or want us and we don't need to be there - let's do it!

SC on :

Don, German opinion aside, there appear to have been many reasons behind the decision to reduce the number of US forces stationed in Germany. The current reversal of policy seems to encompass more than one reason as well. Concern over recent developments in Russia shouldn't be overlooked. The suggestion by Ember and others that US forces could or should be stationed at forward bases in Eastern Europe ignores Russian sensitivity to such a move. The decision to retain a larger force in Germany may in part be a message intended for Eastern Europe sans Russia.

Clarsonimus on :

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Joerg. And I particularly liked yesterday's post. Keep runnin with it.

Mad Minerva on :

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Joerg!

Ember on :

Mark Steyn is an evil idiot. He is evil because he exploits people's fears, he is an idiot because he chooses to be evil. As for the quotes mentioned in this blog. It is very typical of him. He starts out with something that people can generally agree about and then he goes on and on to blow it out of all proportions and add his own disjointed fluff. I wrote a real lengthy post that reviewed his views and book, ''America Alone- end of the world as we know it'' Please allow me to provide the link to my post: http://emberglow.wordpress.com/2007/10/20/review-of-america-alone-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-by-mark-steyn/ Anyhow, the U.S. armed forces' capacity of providing international security and relief is not to be doubted. I made special mention of the efforts of the U.S. navy's efforts in my recent post on cyclone devastation in Bangladesh. As for U.S. military presence in Germany, it may not be a wise idea to have large American contingents in Western Europe for economic as well as strategic reasons. Stationing American troops in Eastern Europe and especially Turkey is much better and feasible military option. The real loss of lessening of American military presence in Germany is to the local economy and businesses who directly benefited from the stationed military personnel.

Pat Patterson on :

Where exactly in the East will these new bases be built considering that the Two Plus Four Treaty, which allowed for a unified Germany to be created without bloodshed, expressly forbids the stationing of "foreign troops" in former Warsaw Pact nations? Now if there were herds of real estate developers in Germany salivating at the prospect of getting a hold of these US bases that would at least be understandable? But demanding the US leave on the whim of not wishing to antagonize the Russians is akin to removing a fire station from the center of town to the farthest suburbs because it makes too much noise and the driveways are not up to code. And I've also heard that the firemen are known to drink beer, spit on the ground and chase girls. Lordy!

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