August 20, 2004
U.S. TROOP REDEPLOYMENT: 'THE COLD WAR IS OVER'
** 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'--
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
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
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.'"
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
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."
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."
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
"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
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
"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)...is 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
"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
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."
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."
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
"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
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."
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.'"
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."
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."
Without The U.S. Army"
Bartosz Weglarczyk opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(8/17): "The decision by President
Bush...to 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."
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
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
"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 detailed...is 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
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
"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
"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...."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
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."
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
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
“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
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
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
"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
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."
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."
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."
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