International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 20, 2004

August 20, 2004





**  Repositionings represent U.S. military's "deeper transformation" in post-Cold War era.

**  Outlets worldwide ascribe U.S. political motivations to the realignment.

**  Euro papers contemplate implications for European security and transatlantic relations.

**  Asian media worry of "miscalculations" that could trigger more instability in the region.




'More flexible' forces--  The announcement that the U.S. would redeploy some forces, dailies said, "comes as no surprise."  It reflects "a long planned and logical step" to counter the world's "new threats," judged Germany's right-of-center Muenchener Merker.  The enemy, noted an independent Dutch paper, is "no longer behind the Iron Curtain."  While a French writer groused that strengthened U.S.-based forces will now "take off to strike an enemy that is everywhere and nowhere," a Hong Kong outlet countered that "new problems" necessitate "a different approach."  A few analysts downplayed the redeployment, likening it to a "rearranging [of] deck chairs" rather than "a wholesale contraction" of the U.S. "military 'footprint.'"


An 'election tool'-- The announcement, averred Argentina's leading Clarin, "surely has to do with the U.S. election campaign."  A French columnist asserted that it undermines John Kerry's contention that President Bush would reinstate the draft.  A Norwegian paper noted how Bush is cast as "a vigorous Commander-in-Chief," while a Romanian writer theorized Bush aimed to strengthen public perceptions of homeland security by "recalling military units" that have "become useless" in Europe and Asia.  Japan's liberal Tokyo Shimbun feared "actual" implementation "might depend" on the election's outcome. 


'Europe still needs America'--  Europeans must now "take more responsibility for their own security," concluded an Irish daily.  Yet while Spain's left-of-center El Pais argued the troop reductions will stimulate Euro defense spending, Polish and Turkish papers were less sanguine.  Also, Europe's alliance with the U.S. has become "more costly and less rewarding," declared Italy's leading business daily.  Other naysayers spoke of "further disengagement" from "the old Atlantic Alliance."  German dailies fretted about the fraying of "cultural and human bonds" in U.S.-German relations after troops go home.


Sending 'the wrong signal'--  Asian outlets expressed alarm about the troop reshuffling's geopolitical impact.  South Korea's pro-government Seoul Shinmun counselled a cautious, "delayed" troop reduction, while a Singaporean paper cautioned that "a quick drawdown" of U.S. forces from Korea could send the wrong message to Pyongyang.  Taiwan's pro-status quo China Times brooded over a "restrained" U.S. response to a Taiwan Straits crisis.  China's media forecast more U.S. interference in "regional conflicts," the spawning of "another arms race," and a "great challenge to China's security."  Conservative Japanese media, noting the region's "potential hotspots," advocated boosting Tokyo's defense capabilities.    


EDITOR:  Michael Kugelman


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 65 reports from 25 countries ranging from August 17-19, 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "The Wrong Way To Change The World"


International affairs editor Quentin Peel took this view in the independent Financial Times (8/19):  "George W. Bush announced this week 'the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War.'...  The timing of the announcement certainly has a lot to do with Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign.  But whichever way you read it, the decision also seems to have been affected by a growing awareness of U.S. imperial overstretch:  the world’s most magnificent fighting machine can no longer handle all the global security tasks it has set itself....  It is not the U.S. force reductions that are misguided but the muddled thinking in the wider context of this comprehensive review of American 'global force posture.'  Unchallenged as the sole superpower, technologically capable of demolishing any threat within days if not weeks, this U.S. administration is nonetheless attempting to do too much on its own, and in the wrong way.  It is attempting to run a global empire without admitting it, and without making the essential compromises needed to win enough allies to its cause."


"Securing A Global Reach:  America And The World"


The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (8/18):  "Behind the obvious and short-term political tinge to the U.S. troop redeployment announced by George Bush...lies a new global view of American power for the 21st century, still fumbling and imprecise but laden with significance.  The actual withdrawal of up to 70,000 troops mostly from Germany and South Korea is not so crucial and will only take place over the next ten years....  Yet in the terms set out by Mr. Bush, 'reducing the stress on our troops' is only an appendage to the main objective.  This is to deploy 'a more agile and more flexible force' capable of 'surg[ing] quickly to deal with unexpected threats' around the world....  The goal of greater mobility does not mean reduction of bases abroad but their 'repositioning' in locations now judged to be more secure and better located to deal with 'new threats.'"


"On Maneuvers:  American Military Going Home, But Not Just Yet"


The conservative Times commented (8/17):  "President Bush’s announcement yesterday that some 70,000 troops and thousands more support staff are to be repositioned, with many of them returning to bases in the United States, contains only two surprises.  The first is that the decision has taken so long to make....  America’s repositioning of its forces should be seen as part of the much deeper transformation on which Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, has been insisting ever since his return to the Pentagon, four years ago....  The second surprise is that so many of the details, even now, remain to be discussed and that execution is expected to take another four to six years.  The presence of U.S. troops still serves as it did in the Cold War, to assure as well as to deter; so Washington will keep 190,000 out of its 1.4 million military overseas, with a larger proportion in unstable regions.  This is not the plan of an administration as indifferent to its allies’ concerns and priorities as those allies would sometimes like to think."


"The Empire Moves Its Frontiers"


The independent Financial Times had this to say (8/17):  "Whether it likes it or not, the U.S. is creating an entirely new 'footprint' for its overseas presence.  The 130,000 troops currently in Iraq are unlikely to be brought home soon, and the 18,000 in Afghanistan are similarly there for the foreseeable future.  New bases are popping up in places such as Qatar and Djibouti, and more are expected to be established in Romania and Bulgaria.  That is why yesterday’s announcement, while welcomed by most of the U.S. military establishment, has a distinct feel of rearranging the deck chairs rather than rethinking the destination.  The real issue facing American troops today is that there are too few of them to perform the jobs demanded of them."


 "This American Troop Withdrawal Marks A New Era"


The center-left Independent judged (8/17):  "President Bush’s announcement that the U.S. armed forces will be reconfigured to bring home as many as 70,000 servicemen and women and 100,000 civilians over the next 10 years was presented as evidence that he would honor his undertaking to make the military leaner and fitter, 'more agile and flexible,' to meet 21st century needs.  In fact, it was far more significant than this.  In the short term, it showed how much trouble Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign is in over Iraq, even in the hitherto safe Republican constituency of the military....  In the longer term, Mr. Bush’s announcement...amounts to the largest realignment of U.S. military strength since the end of the Cold War....  The question is what message these moves will send....  To close bases in Germany and establish a more permanent presence in, say, Uzbekistan, would mark the end of an era; perhaps the decline of a commitment as well."


FRANCE:  "Thirty Eighth Parallel In Korea A Symbolic Stigmata"  


Francis Deron commented in leading left-of-center daily Le Monde (Internet Version, 8/18):  "Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, the area of the 38th parallel, which crosses the Korean Peninsula from east to west, has remained the last symbolic stigmata of the Cold War...a piece of ground that has for half a century hosted the largest concentration of infantry and artillery in the world....  Reacting to the new strategic givens, Washington has negotiated with Seoul the departure of a third of its contingent, whose positioning gave the US moviemaker Robert Altman the inspiration for MASH, a memorable attack on the US Army of the 1970s.  In September a new chapter in this saga will begin when a squadron of F-15E fighters, based in Alaska, will arrive in South Korea to reinforce the air defense system against a possible attack by the North on the South.  And the most symbolic of US establishments in Korea, in Asia even, the US military HQ, which is located right in the middle of Seoul, will then be handed over to the Koreans."


"Bush, A Politically Minded Military Leader"


Charles Lambroschini contended in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/17):  "Most of the troops will return to the United States.  It is from there that they will take off to strike at an enemy that is everywhere and nowhere.  In a conflict without front lines or visible adversaries, advanced bases become useless....  But you must also take into account what is in the back of Bush’s mind.  Transferring some of the German battalions to Romania or Bulgaria is a good way to punish Gerhard Schroder, who opposed the war in Iraq....  More importantly, this redistribution of troops permits the administration to demonstrate that democratic candidate for the Whitehouse, John Kerry, is wrong when he accuses Bush of...wanting to reinstate the draft if he is reelected."


GERMANY:  "No Point For Kerry"


Nikolaus Busse penned the following in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/19):  "John Kerry does not miss an opportunity to attack the president in the field of national security...but with his criticism of the government's plan to withdraw forces from overseas, Kerry will hardly score points.  On the one hand, it is always popular to return troops even if only in the distant future; on the other hand, Bush presented good arguments for his decision.  Even American voters, who are usually not interested in the subtleties of foreign policy, will understand that the bases in Europe are no longer needed to such extent after the collapse of the Soviet Union....  The withdrawal from South Korea needs to be explained since the regime in Pyongyang could indeed misinterpret it.  But after the November 2 elections, this dispute will quickly be forgotten.  That is why U.S. forces in Germany will certainly be reduced--irrespective of who is the supreme commander."


"Double Withdrawal"


Andreas Herholz penned the following editorial in right-of-center Passauer Neue Presse (8/18):  "The decision to withdraw U.S. forces comes as no surprise.  American GIs who once came to bring freedom, peace and democracy, are needed more urgently in other places of the world.  However, in light of the major changes in the German army, which will lead to the closure of many military bases, the 70 000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany--many of them now in Iraq and Afghanistan--seems like a relic of the Cold War.  The position of the German government concerning the Iraq war, was certainly one reason for the reduction of U.S. troops in Germany.  A double withdrawal--reduction of the German army and U.S. troops in Germany--is a sign for detente, security, and stability in Germany.  For the cities involved the withdrawal of U.S. troops, however, means a major economic blow."


"U.S. An Indispensable Partner"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung judged (8/18):  "Despite the most recent irritation and despite the planned drawdown, the Americans remain the indispensable partner of Europe.  But this also requires the Europeans to offer something.  If they want to have a say in global politics, they must not only agree on a joint policy, but must also reform their armies for conflicts of the future:  not for every adventure, but to safeguard their own legitimate interests if there is no way around it."


"Ami Goes Home"


Berthold Kohler judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/17):  "The U.S. superpower spends more than ten times as much for defense than Germany does.  Nevertheless, the Americans, too, must set priorities for the use of their funds and the deployment of their soldiers....  The opponents with whom America--and its allies--now have to deal no longer stand at the gates of Berlin.  The terror, which they want to inflict on the world, cannot be fought with tank divisions along the 'Fulda Gap'....  America is regrouping its forces to remain militarily capable of acting....  The Schroeder government in particular could hardly oppose this move even if it wanted.  The withdrawal of Americans from Europe reflects the dying off of joint interests that acted like a clamp between both coasts of the Atlantic in the past.  But a replacement has not yet been found in the fight against terror."


"Orderly Retreat"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg argued (8/17):  "German-American relations will now change even more, but the troop withdrawal is not a sign of a crisis in relations.  And this move has by no means anything to do with a punitive action because of the dispute over the Iraq war...but the times when U.S. forces entrenched in Germany to defend a large-scale attack from the East are definitely over....  The American who loses his heart in Heidelberg will turn into a historical cliché, but as far as strategic considerations are concerned, Germany will remain important for the United States, for Washington has by no means forgotten that troop movements via the German hub went off smoothly during the Iraq war....  Since Germans are reliable allies, they will remain a distinguished partner even after the restructuring of U.S. forces."


"Deplorable But Reasonable"


Right-of-center Muenchener Merkur carried an editorial by Lorenz von Stackelberg (8/17):  "No, the relocation of U.S. troops is no mean reaction of the U.S. administration to the German position in the Iraq war, but a long planned and logical step.  New threats in the world require new strategies.  Germany's security resulted from a kind of 'hostage function' of the U.S. troops:  an attack of the Warsaw pact would have affected the Americans and their nuclear arsenal immediately and that is why it never took place.  The future lies in mobile high tech military units which Washington--and here comes the tit for tat for Chancellor Schroeder--prefers to have in countries like Poland and Bulgaria, countries which are less skeptical towards U.S. security policy.  Many German communities have profited from the U.S. troops, but they have been warned before.  The real sad part is that cultural and human bonds as a central aspect of U.S.-German relations will suffer along with these changes."


"Withdrawal Of Troops In Installments"


Gabi Pfeifer opined in left-of-center Nürnberger Nachrichten (8/17):  "When President Bush announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany, he left many questions unanswered.  German cities are speculating as to when, how and how many troops will be withdrawn.  City representatives fear that the reduction of troops will have fatal economic consequences for many areas such as Wuerzburg and Bamberg.  On the other hand, a reduction of troops has also brought positive effects for the local economy especially in the area of Nuremberg, Erlangen, and Fuerth, where U.S. military bases were shut down in the 90s. The city used the free space, sold or converted it into new housing areas, which resulted in a booming local economy.  What will happen with the 18.700 U.S. soldiers still stationed in Northern Bavaria?  In Grafenwoehr, things are going in the opposite direction:  thousands of new soldiers are expected, new buildings constructed.  The U.S. Congress has announced that it plans to spend 630 millions of dollars for the enlargement of this location."


"Bonds Will Loosen"


Jochen Clement commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (8/17):  "We must be aware of one thing:  the second wave of drawdowns will continue to loosen bonds and links.  In the past, U.S. soldiers deployed in Germany promoted mutual confidence, created links between the two peoples.  They safeguarded the interest of U.S. policy in Germany and Europe.  But over the past ten years, we realized that they loosened and had an effect on other areas too.  This loosening of links and the interest has political consequences.  They are an element of alienation that occurred over the past few years.  The basis for common understanding has become smaller.  Responsible politicians on both sides are doing too little to stop or reverse this development.  These are long-term effects.  The decision to deploy soldiers is not a sanction for an unruly behavior during the Iraq war, but a consequence is that the United States and Germany are running the risk of further developing apart."


ITALY:  "Bush’s Challenge:  Cutting European Bases"


Stefano Silvestri editorialized in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (8/17):  "Europe is no longer at the top of U.S. strategic interests....  And the most important consequence of the U.S. decision is whether it will ultimately change the nature of the relations between the U.S. and its allies.  The United States has been, so far, mainly perceived as the great defender of the peace and security.  Its armed forces deployed throughout the world have represented...the first tangible sign as well as a guarantee of its commitment to defend the allies....  Today, U.S. forces are, first of all, quite clearly serving U.S. interests and priorities, while its allies are required to support and sustain them, even when it involves major risks and heavy costs, and even where there isn’t full agreement on strategic decisions.  To put it more clearly, the alliance with the United States has become more costly and less rewarding.  All this doesn’t, however, reduce the interests in maintaining that link because, among other things, many of the threats against the United States are also directed against its major European and Asian allies.  But all this has to do with a relationship that is becoming less stable, and which has to be renegotiated every time on each single issue, in order to value every interest, priority and strategy, which might diverge from one another....  The withdrawal of about 70 thousand soldiers from Europe and Asia doesn’t only indicate a realignment of U.S. armed apparatus, but also represents a deeper political, strategic change, which Europeans better think about and assess its great importance.  Otherwise, they will not be prepared to face future challenges."


"The U.S. And NATO"


Elite, liberal daily Il Foglio held (8/17):  "President Bush’s announcement regarding a major restructuring of the deployment of U.S. forces throughout the world was not unexpected....  [And] even if nobody says it, it represents the U.S. response to NATO’s reluctance to commit itself in Iraq, especially due to a French opposition--other than limited training operations.  A difference of opinion regarding military troops reflects the deepest difference of approach towards the challenge created by international terrorism.  With regard to terrorism, America--regardless whether Democrat or Republican--considers itself to be at war, while Europe--no matter the political positions of its governments--is convinced that Europe is to a large extent at peace, and only touched by separate criminal acts....  Should fundamental agreement with Washington not be reached, the United States will no longer provide Europe with its defense for free....  From a military point of view, the current U.S. decision (to withdraw from Europe) opening a new era, which for the U.S. is a difficult, but clear period.  On the contrary, Europe, which tends towards easy solutions, even denying the real risks in front of it, remains enclosed in its most complete political, military puzzlement."


RUSSIA:  "They Leave In Order To Be Nearer"


Vyacheslav Tetekin held in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (8/19):  "The pro-American media in Russia are in rapture, explaining why it is good for all, including Russia, that U.S. troops overseas will be redeployed.  V. Solovyov of weekly Nezavisimoye Military Review, much to the delight of NATO's information center and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, has carefully listed all the good things that might ensue once the United States implements its plans....  It is not the number of the troops to be pulled out or shifted.  It is a new quality.  Combat means have changed considerably in the past few decades....  The Americans leave some place only to appear instantly in another.  It is important that we know well what is happening in the Baltics and to the south of our borders, where work is going on quietly to prepare an air attack on Russia.  NATO (that is, the United States) has no other targets in those areas.  The 'international terrorism' tales do not apply there, as 'global terrorists' have yet to strike those faraway parts of Europe....  The Bush decision won't affect that which is key to the U.S. strategy--armed intervention in Russia as a way to destroy an old rival and gain access to its natural resources."


 "No Cause For Concern"


Viktor Kremenyuk, Deputy Director of the U.S.A. and Canada Institute opined in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (8/17):  "Assuming that Russia nurtures no aggressive plans like attacking its neighbors, the U.S. troop redeployment is no cause for concern.  To think that NATO is going to attack Russia would be highly irresponsible.  NATO has no such plans, as far as I know.  Russia is still a nuclear power.  But with U.S. troops moved closer to the Russian border, we will clearly have less elbowroom in the Caucasus, to name but one area....  We need to adapt to a new environment.  Soviet times are over.  We don't like NATO enlargement, the EU drawing in Eastern European countries, and a lot of other things....  Our elite is lagging behind life.  It refuses to see that things have changed and there is a new alignment of forces, including in Europe.  The new balance of forces is not in our favor.  At least it is not in the ex-USSR's favor.  It may be good for a new democratic Russia, but this is something we have yet to understand."


"Americans Go South"


Svetlana Babayeva wrote in reformist Izvestiya (8/17):  "Many have taken it as the United States still having a grudge against Berlin and its 'obstructionist stand' on Iraq.  This may not be entirely true, as the Americans have been nettled by Paris's position on this issue a lot more....  Even if some high-up voices his concern, it will be pro forma.  Moscow knows as well as Washington where mobile combat-ready troops need to be stationed, is aware of the location of seats of instability, and is as critical of the efficacy of the European segment of NATO as Washington, without necessarily making this public."


"Another Arms Race Would Have Same Ending"


Gennadiy Sysoyev commented in business-oriented Kommersant (8/17):  "Strengthening the U.S. military presence in the backyard of the former Soviet empire has a high price for Russia.  Moscow will have to shell out to retain some presence there....  Basically, the Kremlin's calm reaction to the U.S. troops moving to Russian borders is a matter of choosing the least of two evils.  Reacting differently would mean returning to a confrontation with America.  It would inevitably lead to a new cold war and what we in the Soviet Union used to call an unbridled arms race.  The arms race Ronald Reagan's America imposed on Moscow had the Soviet Union fall apart.  There is every reason to believe that, were Russia to engage in an arms race with George Bush's America now, the ending would be just as sad, for Russia, of course."


"U.S. To Take Over Ex-Soviet Military Bases"


Andrey Kabannikov in Washington wrote for youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (8/17):  "In shifting troops to 'hot spots,' the Pentagon counts on its 'new possessions,' former Soviet military bases and Warsaw Pact installations that are now part of NATO.  U.S. strategists are not going to spare Moscow's feelings anymore."


AUSTRIA:  "As Americans Go Home, the Atlantic Becomes Wider "


Senior editor Helmut L. Müller commented in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (8/18):  "The planned relocation of American military units really reflects the changed situation of world affairs....  The reaction to America’s relocation plans with the allies in Europe and Asia show the whole extent of our ambivalence towards America:  on the one hand, people sneer at the go-it-alone actions of the global police force (and President Bush has actively nurtured this negative image), but at the same time, they seek protection under the umbrella of the only world power.  A withdrawal by Americans immediately raises fears about a ‘security gap’....  The withdrawal of American troops could bring with it a loss of emotions that have political implications.  After all, the American soldiers and their families that were stationed overseas took a great deal of European experience with them to the States. The American political elite nowadays does not look toward Europe so much any more as it once did.  It  follows that NATO, long the central institution of transatlantic partnership, is reduced to a shadow of its former self."


BELGIUM:  "Global Force Posture"


Foreign editor Evita Neefs wrote in Christian-Democrat De Standaard (8/20):  "The withdrawal of U.S. troops is an expensive affair for the American taxpayers.  The withdrawal from South Korea, in particular, seems to be totally reckless.  Leading U.S. media say that Bush is giving North Korea what it has wanted for years--without any compensation and at a moment when that country is playing high nuclear stakes.  Not to mention China's growing power and influence in the region.  Furthermore...the whole operation has no impact on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed that a quick victory with a small and flexible army was feasible in Iraq.  However, many of the problems after the invasion were caused by a lack of manpower....  What if another front is opened elsewhere in the world?  Even the only remaining superpower cannot do everything alone.  Coalitions and the improvement of the international institutions are better means to solve those problems than Bush's reshuffling of the troops....  Bush's plan is still vague.  The details have to be worked out.  For instance, it is not at all clear whether the war on terror will profit from the withdrawal of troops from Europe and Asia.  What is clear, however, is that the semi-elaborated plan has everything to do with electoral shrewdness.  Active military personnel and the 29 million American veterans are a major voting mass.  Bush and Kerry are virtually equally strong in this group, but many have not made a choice yet.  So."


 "Bush Withdraws Troops From Europe And Asia"


Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert wrote in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (8/17):  "A number of bases in Germany are expected to be closed.  That fits in the American plan to move bases to the East and South of Europe....  That initiative also brings them closer to one of world's main hotspots:  the Middle East.  Furthermore, the United States probably believes that the 'new' Europe will receive those bases in a more friendly way than the 'old' Europe....  Before the elections the president wants to show that he knows the problems and that he is working on a solution....  The withdrawal of troops from Europe will certainly be appreciated in the United States.  For years, the Congress and public opinion have had problems to understand why this wealthy continent--a serious competitor for the United States--still needs so much American military assistance.  Even though Europe is far behind in the modernization of its armed forces, it should be capable of conducting peacekeeping operations, public opinion believes....  With his announcement yesterday, Bush focused more on the American voters than on his allies.  But, it did certainly not cause a shock wave or protest:  negotiations about the reductions of troops have been going on for a long time and, moreover, the withdrawal will be spread over ten years.  Remarkably, virtually nobody is applauding the withdrawal.  The American bases are favorite targets for anti-nuclear and anti-American demonstrators--but many town halls suddenly realize how much business and income they gain from presence."


"Logical Withdrawal"


Commentator Luc Standaert argued in conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (8/17):  "Basically, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from foreign countries is very logical.  The real question was:  what were 100,000 American soldiers still doing in Europe....  Under the current president, the United States is confronted with serious problems in other parts of the world.  It needs the troops that are still hanging around in Europe to mind the store at home while the combat units try to install the 'Pax Americana' in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Actually, we should be very pleased with the withdrawal of the U.S. troops because it means that the Americans view Europe as a stable region where they do not have to play the role of policeman anymore."


"Rewarding New Europe"


Foreign editor Frank Schloemer held in independent De Morgen (8/17):  "Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and even Ukraine must be rewarded by Washington for the blind manner in which they support the Americans in virtually all political dossiers.  That is why they will receive loads of American troops that are withdrawn from the West--and they are quite happy with that.  Saber-rattling Donald Rumsfeld honored them with the title of 'the new Europe' because they went to war with enthusiasm in Iraq.  A punishment was still outstanding for Rumsfeld's 'old Europe'--Germany in the first place--because of its overly critical position on the military adventure in Iraq.  Consequently, the withdrawal will have the most serious consequences for Germany.   Directly and indirectly thousands of German civilians and a number of German companies work for the military from the other side of the ocean.  A country with more than four million unemployed people certainly does not need that additional loss of thousands of jobs."


IRELAND:  "U.S. Troops Abroad"


The center-left Irish Times commented (8/18):  "Mr. Bush gave precious few details of how the redeployments will work....  The Cold War deployments of U.S. troops in Germany and elsewhere in Europe have become increasingly redundant after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  NATO's future and purpose remain uncertain, as do transatlantic relations which have yet to adjust fully to these changes.  Europeans are thereby faced with taking more responsibility for their own security.  Nonetheless, some U.S. troops are to be redeployed from Germany to Romania and Bulgaria and others will remain in the Balkans and in Britain.  So without the details it is not possible to make a definitive judgment about the overall strategy in Europe.  The same applies to U.S. troop withdrawals from Asia.  Reaction in South Korea, as in Germany, is driven in part by the shock to local communities which will lose employment when bases close--and by suspicions that the decisions reflect the Bush administration's attitude to criticisms of their policies on Iraq and North Korea.  Experts do not believe it will be possible to find many troops available for withdrawal among the 90,000 U.S. personnel deployed in East Asia, including Japan, Australia and Singapore, if the U.S. remains committed to its strategic role there--which nobody seriously doubts it does.  That this is more a rationalization of U.S. superpower priorities than a withdrawal from military engagement seems clear from its increasing military presence in the Middle East and central Asia.  U.S. electoral politics concern the tactics and scale, not the substance, of its power."


NETHERLANDS:  "U.S. Troops in Europe"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (8/18):  "Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we saw the first signals from Washington that the situation was right for drastic reduction of the American troops in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.  European leaders were shocked...and Washington showed understanding by not creating scenes of mass withdrawal of American GI's but that did not mean that the U.S. didn't do anything.  The U.S. reduced its troops in Europe in a rather low-key way....  Only few think that this affected European-American relations. (there is some erosion in those relations but that is caused by other reasons).  President Bush's announcement of further reduction of the U.S. troops did not cause much commotion--just with the business community near American bases.  Further American reduction of troops fits into the changed strategic relations and views.  Not only does Europe no longer have a strong conventional enemy but the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq showed that a modern mobile armed force is particularly served by 'pre-positioning' in the form of having storage facilities and a base from which to operate.  In this light, the Bush administration plans is a logical development.  In Europe, that is.  But the plans are important for the timing and the fact they were announced with much fuss.  This has everything to do with the status of the political battle scene.  The president is engaged in a neck-and-neck race with challenger John Kerry, the theme of peace and security plays an important role, and in this context a gathering with war veterans in Ohio is the perfect backdrop to beat the drums.  The White House did not get bothered by the consideration that a more low-key tone would have reduced chances of misconceptions.  What did Teddy Roosevelt say again?  'Speak softly and carry a big stick.'"


"Unbalanced Reduction"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad judged (8/17):  "President Bush's plans to reduce the number of American soldiers in Europe and Asia in the next ten years fit into the plans to make the American armed forces more flexible.  The enemy is no longer behind the Iron Curtain and the anticipated battlefield is no longer in Germany....  Bush's plan is no more than a logical step in a development which has been doing on for some time now.  Nevertheless, the significance of his plan is huge;  for Europe in the first place.  Reducing American troops in Europe comes down to further disengagement from the old Atlantic Alliance....  However, the U.S. plan to reduce U.S. troops in Korea is incomprehensible and strategically wrong....  The threat imposed by the communist neighbor in Pyongyang with his enormous military capability should be reason to keep the troops at the Korean border at proper strength.  This plus the fact that Bush is not changing his unbalanced troops policy in Iraq give the impression that the plans have not been well-thought out on some crucial points.  It is too much to say the troop reduction plan is an election stunt...but one could have expected a superpower to come up with a better-organized plan."


NORWAY:  "Withdrawal"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten concluded (8/18):  "President George W. Bush’s decision is now dictated by his wish to position himself as a vigorous Commander-in-Chief in an exciting election rather than an example of radical, fresh thinking on U.S.-European relations, American security guarantees, and the American military’s force structure....  The indication that some of the remaining soldiers are leaving Germany in favor of basing at other NATO countries further east proves that the proposition also has a political side.  Germany may be ‘punished’ for its former resistance against the war in Iraq, at the same time that more ‘loyal’ allies are rewarded....  Still, it’s an indication of the changed relations in our part of the world that this matter is now more a discussion of jobs that may be lost rather than security policy."


POLAND:  "Europe Without The U.S. Army"


Bartosz Weglarczyk opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (8/17):  "The decision by President pull American troops out of Europe and Asia is both good and bad news....  It is good news, because...pulling such a big number will ease tensions in the most explosive regions of the globe, such the Korean Peninsula....  The Americans could not have made a better gesture of goodwill than to withdraw thousands of troops from the demarcation line between the two Koreas.  Pulling American troops out of Saudi Arabia means that al-Qaida’s raison d’etre has vanished.  Osama bin Laden started his career as a global terrorist by demanding that troops of the infidels be driven out from the holy land of Islam.  Withdrawing U.S. armed forces from Europe, however, is bad news because the European Union is not poised to take responsibility for the Old Continent.  NATO--an organization, which has hinged its existence on American military presence--existed in order to ‘keep the Germans in check and the Russians at a distance.’  It lies in our interests for the European Union to learn to deal with problems promptly on its own, and for NATO not to lose its significance.  Europe still needs America."


"Take It Easy!  America Will Remain In Europe"


Grzegorz Jankowski wrote in tabloid Fakt (8/17):  "The Americans are beginning to withdraw their troops from Europe.  Actually, it is difficult to say they are beginning, because Washington has long been reducing its armed forces on the Old Continent.  In the 90’s, under President Bill Clinton, the pullout was of a different nature.  At that time, the view was voiced that Europe was so safe that there was no need to maintain the U.S. armed forces there.  Today the American reasoning is different.  The international situation has made the Americans change their defense priorities.  Europe is not the apple of America’s eye anymore.  The Middle East is more important for them.  Redeploying their troops, the Americans are more thoughtful than they were a few years ago.  Although the troops will be fewer, the bases will remain and be ready to accommodate soldiers from across the ocean should the need arise....  America is not giving up its military and political presence in Europe.  It is changing only its principles.  We should not worry."


ROMANIA:  "Redeployment Of U.S. Troops"


Foreign policy analyst Mihai Ionescu opined in the independent daily Romania Libera (8/18):  "The announcement...represents the beginning of a historic process, and, by the temperamental reactions it has stirred--a perfect example of how a message can get distorted.  The most important restructuring of American forces since the end of war in Korea has been justified by the necessity for the U.S. Army to be more flexible and better prepared.  Today, the terrorist threat makes it necessary for American soldiers to be called anywhere--in America, the main target of al-Qaida, or close to the turmoil in the Middle East.  On the other hand, Bush’s announcement was immediately criticized as a plan that ‘will seriously undermine the national security of the U.S.’  All the critics of the president have in common a stubbornness to call this redeployment of troops a shameful withdrawal from the battlefield.  Because of their wish to constantly attack him, Bush’s adversaries have come to criticize his every move, good or bad.  This is why George W. Bush is in the paradoxical situation of not only being criticized for sending troops overseas, but also for recalling them home."


"An Electoral Meaning To Troop Move"


Serban Mihaila commented in independent Adevarul (8/17):  "With almost three months before the presidential elections, Bush’s decision to recall tens of thousands of American soldiers home has an electoral meaning.  The chief in the White House wants to convince his fellow citizens that he is giving full attention to protect American territory against probable attacks by terrorists, by recalling some military units, which have become useless in Europe and Asia.  At the same time, by coming out in favor of limiting the number or American soldiers around the world, Bush can promote the idea of a faster deployment of the ambitious and expensive ballistic space program."


SPAIN:  "The New Foreign Map Of The U.S."


Conservative ABC commented (8/19):  "The decision does not surprise allied governments, because the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet bloc made a revision of U.S. force presence inevitable....  What for some public opinion sectors may be surprising is the fact that it is precisely George Bush who is carrying out a withdrawal of troops, in contrast with the imperialist image he's been tagged with in Europe.  However, the decision to make a move is in keeping with an objective and pragmatic analysis of the situation:  new interests, new threats and new allies....  A different matter is the fact that Bush has timed this not just to benefit from it electorally, but also to send Europe the message that its defense is Europeans' job, and that the U.S. has other things to take care of....  The movement of troops by the U.S. is historically unavoidable, as it should be a reorganization of the international system in order to rescue it from the obsoleteness where the balance among the victors of the Second World War has plunged.  Washington has taken the first step, and Europe should not respond to the departure of its insulted friend with weakness or melancholy."


"An Electioneering, Spiteful And Inopportune Withdrawal"


Independent El Mundo judged (8/18):  "The president is trying to regain the political initiative only a few days before the convention that will launch him as a candidate for re-election....  The stream of U.S. coffins in the bloody Iraqi postwar period has weighted down the president's popularity....  But the withdrawal of troops announced by Bush is not at all mere electoral bait.  The plan falls within a broad reform announced a couple of years ago by Rumsfeld, who is trying to adapt the U.S. army to the challenges of 21st century.  It is about getting the troops to be able to withdraw faster in case of an unexpected threat, and getting rid of the strategic hindrances of the Cold War.  This is the official explanation of the plan....  One cannot understand very well that the announcement...comes exactly when there are suspicions that the regime of Kim Jong Il is producing nuclear weapons....  The withdrawal might be interpreted by North Korea as an inexplicable sign of weakness of the U.S. administration....  It does not seem opportune to announce, in the midst of an electoral campaign, a withdrawal that might cause a rift between the U.S. and some of its injured allies, and send a dangerous message of weakness to an enemy like North Korea, which does have weapons of mass destruction."


"Bush Moves His Troops"


Left-of-center El País maintained (8/18):  "The plan...may be debatable, but is not an improvised or campaign measure....  The decision is relevant to all intents and purposes.  With its lights and shades, U.S. troops, almost a quarter of a million soldiers in foreign bases, have, for more than a half century, decisively contributed to maintaining the cohesiveness of the world united around democratic values.  The withdrawal announced by Bush, although still not very far from being an imperial withdrawal in the old style.  It won't either serve to reinforce critical places such as Iraq in the short term, where the U.S. is at the limit of its possibilities due to an illusory planning of the post war period.  Any mass movement of forces takes, at best, many months....  The retreat announced by Bush makes much more sense applied to the almost placid reality of Europe than to the worrisome situation in several regions of Asia--although in the Old Continent it will aggravate the challenges of NATO, exactly when the Atlantic Alliance is unsuccessfully trying to adapt its operation and purpose to the signs of the times....  The U.S. initiative will, in the short term, make Europe modernize militarily, spend more money on its defense and make its armies more compatible."


TURKEY:  "Pulling Back U.S. Forces"


Hadi Uluengin remarked in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (8/19):  "The U.S. should not withdraw its forces from the European continent.  This argument has nothing to do with being pro-American.  If we could free ourselves of slogans and clichés, we would realize that the world cannot tolerate another power vacuum.  It is as bad for the world when the U.S. acts unilaterally as when the U.S. decides to retreat into isolationism....  It seems that, based on the Global Force Posture Review, the U.S. plans to return to its shell, as in the period from the early 1900s until 1941.  Living in a shell will transform the U.S. strategic vision, putting greater emphasis on anti-missile programs, more restrictions on visas and immigration, and a general neglect of European issues.  Such a radical strategic transformation will pave the way for more ethnocentric policies.  By sending American forces from Europe back to the United States, U.S. authorities are reducing the biggest power in the neighborhood to the role of a bystander."     


"The New U.S. Global Defense Posture"


Sami Kohen wrote in the mass-appeal Milliyet (8/18):  "It may seem that a withdrawal of American forces from abroad would reduce U.S. security, but the main point of the recently announced changes is an expanded and more flexible military able to meet current threats.  U.S. forces will be withdrawn or downsized from certain areas, yet a ‘forward base’ strategy will also be implemented, and that includes Poland, Romania, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  Such a change in U.S. military strategy is quite natural, since the areas of challenge and threat have moved to the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.  The nature of the challenge has also changed with the rise of global terrorism....  The most important impact of the U.S. decision will be on the future of NATO.  It remains to be seen to what extent the decision will effect the future of the Alliance.  Some European military strategists have already started a debate, calling on the EU to take up defense and security initiatives where the U.S. has left off.  But the EU has never shown a willingness to take on such a responsibility alone....  The withdrawal of U.S. forces from ‘old Europe’ and the transfer of some of them to ‘new Europe’ is a decision important enough to create a new chapter in the strategic equilibrium.  Turkey will also take its place in this structuring, with Incirlik airbase becoming even more important than before."




LEBANON:  "Will Bush Administration Be Rightly Guided After Redeployment?"


Fouad Matar observed in pro Sunni Al-Liwaa (8/18):  "When President George Bush Jr. suddenly decides to change the map of American troops deployed around the world...he is doing that because the experience in Iraq and before that the experience in Afghanistan have in principal proved that an exaggerated external expansion by the U.S. will reflect internally sooner or later, making the American society a society of rebellion on the system, and a society of increased crime, unemployment and violence....  The decision made by President Bush explains to us the statement he gave few days ago, especially the phrase ‘we are a nation in danger’.  When a nation is in danger, it becomes essential to decrease external ambitions and to pay more attention internally, and to relinquish the imperial obsessions that will be accomplished, but only at the expense of America’s interests of prosperity and stability.  Although the sudden announcement comes in the middle of the presidential campaign, and might attract millions of Americans who have become tired of Bush’s war adventures, yet it should create a moment of contemplation for us Arabs.  The step of troop deployment will be accompanied by the move of strengthening military air basis in some Arab countries as well as some European countries.  It means that the American administration will no more involve personnel in the confrontation lines to avoid the fate they had in Iraq, and will be resorting to advanced technology of military aircraft instead."


"An Episode In The American Empire’s Strategy"  


Rafiq Khoury held in centrist Al-anwar (8/18):  "The timing of (President Bush’s) announcement is campaign- related and so is the place he gave the speech meaning before the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention.  Those veterans alone make up two million voters....  The decision to withdraw troops from Europe and Asia is just an episode in a chain of answers.  It is normal for the Democratic camp of candidate John Kerry to criticize the announcement, especially that Kerry has an upcoming opportunity to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention soon....  But in reality America’s military and economic power would lead any president to use them within the frame of imperial hegemony over the world.  The synopsis of what Kerry- who is seeking to clarify the difference between him and Bush- says is that he can do what his rival is doing in a better and less expensive way...."




AUSTRALIA:  "U.S. May Upset A Delicate Balance"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (8/19):  "At first glance, there is a compelling logic to the substantial reshaping by the United States of its global military footprint.  The Cold War is long over....  But there is something missing from this picture.  The Cold War is not over on the Korean peninsula....  For U.S. allies South Korea and Japan--which lie within the known strike range of Pyongyang's missiles--Washington's announcement is troubling.  Talks with Pyongyang are expected to resume in September.  There is concern in the region, as well as in parts of the Bush administration, that the erratic North Korean regime may be emboldened.  North Korea may interpret the U.S. redeployment as a sign of weakness, that of an overstretched U.S. military scavenging troops from other regions to shore up the costly Iraq campaign....  The weakness in Mr. Bush's new global vision lies in its oversimplification.  The post-Cold War global strategic environment is far more complicated than he would like to suggest."


 "American Military Faces New Front"


The national conservative Australian concluded (8/18):  "More than half a century after they arrived, the Americans plan to reduce their garrison in Western Europe.  At the same time the number of their soldiers guarding South Korea and based in Japan will be cut.  But this does not mean the U.S. is abandoning its allies, rather it is reconfiguring its forces to face new types of threats....  Missiles and carrier-launched aircraft, plus the ability to quickly deploy troops by sea and air make the presence of standing garrisons less important.  The eight operational carrier battle groups of the U.S. navy can project unmatchable American power around the world.  The oldest adage of defense planning is that commanders are always ready to fight the last war.  But with nearly as many U.S. troops now stationed in Italy as Afghanistan, this planned redeployment demonstrates the Americans are now looking forward to new wars against terror rather than back to when Russia and China were the most likely enemy."


CHINA:  "Adjustment Of Deployments Not Beneficial For Resolution Of Taiwan Issue"


Li Daguang commented in the official Xinhua News Agency international news publication International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (8/19):  "A U.S. military expert indicated...the Pentagon’s Command Fleet and submarines' being stationed on Guam...has shortened a U.S. nuclear submarine’s arrival time to the Taiwan Strait by five days.  On such an occasion, the circumstances under which China can resolve the Taiwan issue have become more complicated and factors for instability have increased.  In response to the adjustment of the U.S. global military deployment, we should adopt a ‘two-handed policy.’  On the one hand, we should insist on increasing the positive and reducing the negative, seeking more common interests between the two countries.  On the other hand, we should actively develop our country’s military strength.  Without regard to ideology, the international order, or the threats against China’s unification and territorial integrity, the U.S.’ global strategy all relates to the containment of China Rising.  Therefore we must incessantly develop the ability to react to outside threats from the U.S."


"Gradual Transformation From ‘World Policeman’ To ‘World Fireman?’"


Jia Gan commented in the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (8/18):  "The adjustment of the U.S.’ global military strategy will transform the U.S. military from ‘world policeman’ to ‘world fireman.’  In the future, the U.S. military will maneuver its local military forces in order to interfere into regional conflicts.  This means that the U.S. actually hasn’t weakened but rather strengthened its policy of international interference.  Undoubtedly, the U.S. strengthening its military interference into Asia-Pacific affairs will pose a great challenge to China’s security, especially at this critical time when China is worrying about the ‘Taiwan independence’ issue and is having to improve its own military deterrent.  Meanwhile it will also bring a new round of reordering of Asia-Pacific powers, and the security relations between all of the countries will have to be readjusted.  The results are foreseeable:  the Asia-Pacific region will inevitably see another arms race; China-Japan relations may go through a substantial change; the new confrontations and potential conflicts will also greatly influence the economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.  More seriously, the U.S., which has been regarded as a secure and stable component by some Asian countries, may become the ‘chief culprit’ behind hostility and distrust between various Asian countries."


“U.S. Withdraws 70,000 Troops From Europe And Asia, Trying To Construct Three Kinds Of Bases And Increase Its Rapid Intervention Abilities”


Ma Jun commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (8/16):  "Military experts indicate that Bush’s adjustment is based upon two intentions: first, he intends to use the deployment to cover the globe with U.S. rapid response troops in order to make ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against irregular and dispersed terror organizations and against ‘terror countries.’  Second, he intends to explore new military bases in some sensitive areas so that U.S. deployments around the globe can become ‘more average and more reasonable'....  The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Europe is to punish those unsupportive ‘old European’ countries for the Iraq war.  Some countries allow the U.S. to deploy in their borders because they want U.S. military protection and economic assistance.  Nevertheless, the adjustment will pose a far-reaching influence on the global military and political setup because along with the fact that U.S. military intervention abilities have been further increased, American soldiers will now be ubiquitous throughout the world in the future."


"U.S. Makes A Global Military Adjustment"


The official popular newspaper Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) reported (8/15):  "President Bush announced his overall plans for a global deployment adjustment on August 16.  This symbolizes that the U.S.’ adjustment of its deployments has entered a substantial phase....  This is the largest and broadest overseas military adjustment by the U.S. since 1992.  The U.S.’ global adjustment is the manifestation of a new U.S. national military strategy, illustrating the key areas that the U.S. needs to focus on to maintain its hegemonic position and the main threats that it needs to deal with.  The adjustment has the following characteristics: first, the military adjustments are mainly being made around the ‘arc of instability'....  In the Middle East, the U.S. will continue to maintain a certain military strength....  In Europe, it is increasing its deployment in Eastern European countries.  In the Asia-Pacific area, the U.S. increases the military presence in Southeast Asia....  Second, the strength of U.S. deployments in the Western Pacific has been greatly augmented....  The U.S. has not ignored the rise of powers in the Western Pacific area and the possibility of conflicts that may pose challenges to the U.S.’ global strategy....  Third, in the Asia-Pacific area, the U.S. has increased the warfare capabilities on Guam Island, the frontline base for the U.S., aiming at increasing strategic flexibility."


“Peace Requires An End To U.S. Military Deployment”


Wu Yixue commented in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (8/15):  "The Pentagon is seriously considering stationing a second aircraft carrier in the Asia-Pacific region to bolster the USS Kitty Hawk's military capability in the region, according to AP news....  In fact, it was the U.S. strategic idea to add another aircraft carrier to the Asia-Pacific region to increase its military deterrence of the Chinese mainland when it held a missiles-launching exercise across the Taiwan Straits....  In the eyes of the Pentagon, the deployment of another carrier in the Asia-Pacific region can help the United States more effectively deter conflicts across the Taiwan Straits and prevent the DPRK from adventurous military actions....  Through the military move, Washington also wants to demonstrate to the whole world, especially to its Asian allies, that the United States is the only superpower that can guarantee security in the region....  But such U.S. strategic intentions are a miscalculation....  Whether peace can be maintained on the Taiwan Straits is decided by whether or not the Taiwan authorities cling to their splittist line....  U.S. aircraft carriers stationed in the region will have no impact on the mainland's resolve to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity....  Also, the DPRK nuclear issue can be only defused through face-to-face negotiations, not by military build-ups....  If Washington really wants to make the Asia-Pacific region more peaceful and stable, it is time for it to spend more time on removing the elements possibly leading to conflicts in the region."


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "U.S. Troop Redeployment Is Long Overdue"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (8/18):  "Most of them are to be pulled out of Europe--primarily Germany.  It had earlier been announced that the number of troops based in South Korea would also be reduced.  The decision reflects a reality that has been evident since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  The cold war is over.  The major threat to world peace is no longer a risk of superpowers clashing on the German border.  New problems--notably the war on terror--call for a different approach....  The timing of the announcement is interesting.  It comes at the height of the U.S. presidential election campaign, in which the military vote is seen as crucial.  Mr. Bush chose to deliver his speech before veterans in Ohio, a key election battleground.  And the news that thousands of troops will be coming home may ease concerns in the U.S. about resources being drained as a result of the engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, the changes will come too late to make much--if any--difference in those two theaters of action.  They are not expected to take effect until 2006 at the earliest.  Whatever the political motives may be, the announcement was overdue.  The current troop deployment is the legacy of an era that has long passed.  It is time to adapt and look ahead."


"The Withdrawal Of U.S. Troops Will Shake Up Global Balance"


The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (8/18):  "After the adjustment, U.S. strategic focus will obviously shift from the West to the East.  On the one hand, the U.S. can reduce its troops in western and northern Europe.  On the other hand, it will deploy its troops to places near the Middle East and in eastern and southern Europe.  By moving its strategic focus in Europe eastward, U.S. troops will be allowed to move closer to former Soviet Union's areas which 'pose potential threats.'  Besides, it can develop its relations with central and eastern Europe so that the 'old Europe' will have lesser bargaining chips to confront the U.S.  After the Iraqi war, the U.S. has quickly developed its relations with Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, etc.  The U.S. hopes that the new military redeployment will establish a new European strategic alliance.  Thus, it can achieve its strategic objectives of entering eastern and central Europe and consolidating its sphere of influence in northeast Asia (including South Korea and Japan)....  It can be said that the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the redeployment of global strategy will have significant impacts on Sino-U.S. relations and the Taiwan Strait situation.  Those who are concerned about national conditions should take heed of the U.S. move."


TAIWAN:  "The United States' Guarantees"


The centrist, pro-status quo China Times commented (8/19):  "As it plans for the military redeployment, Washington did not forget to reiterate that 'there will be no changes to its security commitments.'  A high-ranking Pentagon official even guaranteed that the United States' 'determination to maintain the stability across the Taiwan Strait remains unchanged.'  Can people trust U.S. guarantees?  If South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu did not trust the guarantees made by U.S. presidents Nixon, Ford...;  if it got itself off its reliance on the United States and started to rely on itself from the very beginning, perhaps South Vietnam would not have been destroyed so quickly.  What about Taiwan?  When dealing with relations across the Taiwan Strait, does the Taiwan government have in mind defending cross-Strait security by its own efforts or by relying on U.S. carriers?  Until the last moment before South Vietnam was lost, the South Vietnamese people still believed that the U.S. military would return.  What about Taiwan?  How many people in Taiwan also expect, as the South Vietnamese people did, that the United States would send troops to defend Taiwan?"


"Bolster Nation's Defensive Abilities"


The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times editorialized (8/19):  "The U.S. will likely cut down troop deployments in South Korea and along the 'second island chain' while improving military capabilities in order to build a deterrent force.  In case of military tension in the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. will be able to use its military flexibly, both for purposes of attack and defense.  China and North Korea will be the targets of this force.  For Taiwan, located in the first island chain, this development would seem to leave it more exposed, with the country acting as a shield for U.S. forces in Guam and Hawaii.  But it could actually improve the country's overall security, to the extent that it makes Taiwan's role even more critical to regional security, and so strengthens the country's alliances.  In response to the developing military situation, Taiwan should increase its defensive capabilities. Only if the country shows China that it can both defend itself and also counterattack will the country inhibit China from using force to 'unify' Taiwan."


 "How Taiwan Should View The Redeployment Of U.S. Military"


Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung noted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (8/18):  "In terms of its foreign relations and the global situation, Taiwan needs to pay special attention to the following three aspects.  First, the United States' plan to withdraw troops from South Korea may result in a miscalculation by Pyongyang.  Once a conflict breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, how does Washington, with its new military deployment, plan to cope with a second conflict if it breaks out concurrently?  Will the Taiwan Strait be harmed by the realignment first before it benefits from it?  Second, the U.S. military deployment in the Asia-Pacific region will be spread out and have more mobility in the future.  How will the U.S. military obtain cooperation from the host country where its troops are stationed in order to get support for its future operations?  Third, will U.S. military strength be stretched too thin?  Is the redeployment plan aimed at providing more support for the troops in Iraq, or has it exposed the decline of U.S. power in the world?...  Taiwan hopes that the U.S. military will intervene if there is a conflict across the Taiwan Strait.  Should it happen, it will not be a matter just between Washington, Beijing and Taipei but will also involve those countries where U.S. troops are deployed.  Be it Japan, Australia, or South Korea, these countries must first reach a consensus on strategy about how to deal with cross-Strait conflicts before they can act uniformly.  The United States and Taiwan must also include those countries in their consultations in the very beginning when a crisis breaks out in the Taiwan Strait....  By the same token, Beijing will also try every means it can to persuade these countries not to get involved when a cross-Strait conflict happens; it will ask the troops of these countries not to work with the U.S. military or not to allow the U.S. military to use their military bases.  In other words, the redeployment of the U.S. military will lead to a re-organization of the U.S. ally network, which may likely restrain the U.S. military's actions."


JAPAN:  "Bush Should Not Use Force Realignment As Political Tool For His Reelection"


The liberal Tokyo Shimbun contended (8/18):  "Although there might be a 'political motivation' behind President Bush's announcement Monday of comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas, the U.S. bears the responsibility to use the dividend of the end of the Cold War as an instrument to make the world a better and safer place.  The president stressed that the transformation plans would benefit American taxpayers by saving their money.  However, by reducing its military spending, the U.S. should not cast additional financial burdens on its allies.  We hope that Washington will hold close consultations with its allies, including Japan, about its force redeployment plans."


"Force Realignment Should Not Create 'Power Vacuum' In East Asia"


Top-circulation moderate-conservative Yomiuri editorialized (8/18):  "The worldwide realignment of U.S. forces...should not create a 'power vacuum' in East Asia because the region has potential hot spots such as the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait.  Japan shares common concern with the U.S. about 21st century threats, including international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  However, legal restrictions stipulated in its peace constitution prevent Japan from exercising the right to collective defense.  It is time for Japan to revise its constitution to encourage and allow Tokyo to have closer cooperation with Washington on regional security and to combat emerging threats."


"Japan Needs to Enhance Its Defense Capability To Support U.S. Force Realignment"


Conservative Sankei opined (8/18):  "The containment of post-Cold War threats, including international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, is a hard task assigned to the U.S.  However, U.S. allies also bear responsibilities for tackling the challenges.  The force transformation plans announced by President Bush...illustrate a new U.S. military strategy, under which the Pentagon will install more flexible and rapidly deployable forces in overseas sites.  Japan needs to strengthen its defense ability to function as a 'frontline base' for U.S. global security strategy.  In this regard, Tokyo should seek the revision of its pacifist constitution as part of its efforts to increase defense capabilities."


"Cold War Deployment To Finally End"


A Washington correspondent of liberal Tokyo Shimbun insisted (8/17):  "President Bush's military transformation plan suggests that the Cold-War style of U.S. military deployment abroad will finally end....  However, with President Bush using the realignment initiative as an election tool, the actual implementation of the plan remains unclear and might depend on the outcome of the presidential election."


"Realignment Designed To Address Stronger China"


Business-oriented Nikkei had this to say (8/17):  "A Pentagon panel had warned of China's emergence as a military superpower, claiming that the 'West' camp no longer poses a military threat to the U.S.  Amid this premise, reports indicate that under the realignment plan, U.S. military bases in Japan would be converted into 'front-line' commands covering the entire Asia region.  Washington is also proceeding with its transformation plan to deal with a possible future leadership battle between the U.S. and China for the Asia-Pacific region, which is expected to be the primary engine of global economy growth."


SOUTH KOREA:  "The Time Table For USFK Reduction Should Be Readjusted"


The pro-government Seoul Shinmun editorialized (8/19):  "Since Washington’s decision to reduce USFK’s ‘footprint’ in the ROK first surfaced in May, we have repeatedly stressed that the timing and the size of USFK reduction must not be decided unilaterally by the U.S., but through bilateral consultations....  In particular, taking note of the growing controversy over the Bush administration’s plans to reduce overseas American troops in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election, the USFK reduction issue is not something that we must deal with in a hurried manner....  We should not take it for granted that Washington will reduce the number of USFK by 12,000 troops by late next year.  This is because, depending on the results of the U.S. presidential election, the USFK reduction plan itself could be put on hold.  Now is the time for Seoul to convey our demand clearly for a delayed USFK reduction, including delays in withdrawing core USFK military capabilities...and to keep a close watch on the U.S. political situation."


SINGAPORE:  "U.S. Forces Redeploy"


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (8/18):  "The plan, long mooted, did not come as a surprise, and the Administration took care to reassure friends and allies that the redeployment would not be sudden....  Nor does the announcement amount to a U.S. withdrawal from Europe or Asia....  The redeployment plan is more a reshuffling of the deck than a wholesale contraction of the U.S. military's 'footprint' across the globe.  That said, how Washington puts this plan into effect is important....  The U.S. has already withdrawn troops from South Korea to beef up its forces in Iraq.  A quick drawdown of U.S. force strength on the Korean peninsula will send the wrong signal to Pyongyang.  Similarly, a precipitous transfer of troops from Europe may loosen America's ties to its traditional European allies....  The redeployment's strategic imperative is clear enough:  U.S. military doctrine, driven by technology, now calls for leaner, more mobile units, capable of being deployed quickly to the world's hot spots.  Basing heavily armored units in fixed garrisons runs counter to this requirement....  But geopolitics is not necessarily so neat.  A felt U.S. presence may require just that--a presence.  If its footprint is going to be reduced, then the U.S. will have to think of other ways to project its power."


THAILAND:  "Japan Will Be In Trouble If The U.S. Leaves"


Kiatchai Pongpanich commented in sensationalist Khao Sot (8/19):  "The withdrawal of U.S. troops has somewhat worried U.S. allies....  Since the end of the latest World War until the Cold War era, the U.S. played an important role in providing security for the Asia-Pacific region....  Through this time, the U.S. was also committed to strengthen the region’s economy....  Suppose if Japan, a U.S. close ally, started to lose confidence in the U.S.’ ability to protect it, we might see Japan produce its own nuclear weapons in the not-too-distant future....  China and Japan might become strategic partners instead of rivals.  If the U.S. does not avoid making its allies in the Asia-Pacific region lose confidence, it might prompt both Japan and North Korea to change their strategies in order to respond to existing threats."




CANADA:  "America's Next War"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press judged (8/18):  "There is not much point in the United States' keeping tens of thousands of troops stationed in Germany today.  The Cold War is over....  In this context, President George Bush's announcement of a major redeployment of American troops overseas makes eminently good sense....  Old wars, however, cannot always be ignored.  If the plan to redeploy troops from Western Europe makes obvious sense, the plan to move troops out of East Asia--most notably out of South Korea--is less obviously sensible.  The Korean War is not yet over--the Korean peninsula is the most massively militarized bit of geography in the world.  A U.S. withdrawal would undermine the security of South Korea and offer North Korea's unstable dictator a victory that he has not earned but which will encourage him in his adventurism.  Perhaps more seriously, at a time when China is behaving increasingly imperiously, it sends a message to other Asian nations--Japan chief among them--that the promise of American protection may be a more frail reed than they had hoped.  Mr. Bush owes both his enemies and his allies more detail about the new American strategy."


 "Calling U.S. Troops Home From The Field"


The leading, centrist Globe and Mail commented (8/17):  "Even before U.S. President George W. Bush uttered a word of yesterday's historic speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati, it was obvious his message would be viewed through a deeply political prism....  That said, yesterday's announcement by Mr. Bush by no means solves his military/political problem.  Given the 10-year timetable, no major troop homecoming is in the offing any time soon.  Meanwhile, the toll in Iraq mounts."


ARGENTINA:  "Germany Complains About The U.S. Troop Withdrawal"


Araceli Viceconte, Berlin-based correspondent for leading Clarin, observed (8/17):  "The announcement surely has to do with the U.S. election campaign.  At least for geopolitical and budgetary reasons, Bush is attempting to take advantage of his calling U.S. troops home."




















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