Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bush withdraws troops, Centre-Left has fit

Both the New York Times - Misconceived Military Shuffle - and The Guardian - Securing a global reach - do their best to convince themselves that Bush's plan to withdraw troops from Germany and South Korea is an Evil Thing.

Once upon a time such news would have been greeted with cheering by the Centre-Left but seeing that this is being carried out by Bush it must be by definition, if not by logic, a bad thing. If this was Clinton, both papers would be giving him the editorial equivalent of a Monica Lewinsky.

The confused emotions of The Guardian's editors is palpable in their concluding paragraph:
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, while critics of US policy argued that it was time for cold war alliances to be wound up, supporters of Washington expressed their fears that American power might withdraw to the heartland. More recently, the British government's case for the invasion of Iraq has relied heavily on the supposed danger that a US snubbed by the world would turn inwards. These arguments about likely isolationism are now anachronistic. In Washington's strategy, defence of the heartland requires a global reach. The US needs to be not just over here, but over everywhere. The only powers able to challenge this aim, Russia and China, have signed up to the war against terror and their concerns are muted - at least for now. For them, America's assertive global role will be a salient and disquieting feature of an uncertain new world.

Which, after brooding darkly and ambivalently about islolationism and our uncertain new world (the old one was much more certain), doesn't really conclude anything.

The New York Times is forced to argue that this move will mean
...the military will also lose the advantage that comes with giving large numbers of its men and women the experience of living in other cultures.

So that's why the US has all those troops around the world - to give them the opportunity to sample the delights of other cultures. It might be a cheaper exercise if all those weapons were left at home. And they might blend in a bit more without the uniforms.

One only has to imagine what these papers would be saying if Bush had announced sending more troops to understand how desperate their need is to criticise Bush no matter what he does.

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