Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 9 News List

Withdrawing US forces is only a good start; bring them all home

If `no sane president' would risk a ground war with China, US commitments to defend allies are expensive security black holes where Washington does the defending and its allies do the carping

By Doug Bandow

But even if trans-Atlantic ties loosened, the US would be better off. America's alliances are mostly security black holes, with Washington doing the defending and allies doing the carping. Withdrawal would force friendly states to take on responsibility for their own defense, which would enhance US security.

Why are Americans patrolling Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, which are of only peripheral interest to Europe and of no concern to the US? Japan should take a front-line role in deterring potential Chinese adventurism. Why does Washington treat populous and prosperous South Korea as a perpetual defense dependent?

However, the Bush proposal only makes sense if the troops are sent home, rather than elsewhere. The core threat against American security today is terrorism, and troops in Australia or Poland would be no more relevant to destroying terrorist groups than are those in Korea or Germany.

Finally, more troops should be brought home more quickly. US forces, now at 140,000, must be withdrawn from Iraq as that nation becomes responsible for its own fate.

Bush recognizes that the status quo is untenable. His plan should be but the opening move toward full disengagement.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute and a former special assistant to the late US president Ronald Reagan.

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