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[casi] US foreign policy by 'pique'

A thoughtful article  below I found worth passing along.  pg

May 12, 2003

America's foreign policy by pique
James O. Goldsborough

The major changes in U.S. force deployment overseas now taking place have
nothing to do with who supported the Iraq war and who didn't, says the Bush

The withdrawal of troops from Saudia Arabia, in other words, is not linked
to Saudi war objections. The move of U.S. Army troops from Germany, where
they have been stationed for nearly 60 years, has nothing to do with German
war opposition. And the downsizing of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey has
nothing to do with Turkey's veto of U.S. war plans.

The links, however, are clear. The Bush administration intends that where
nations stood on Iraq defines America's future military relations with them,
as well as political.

The Iraq war is shaking up America's foreign relations as nothing has done
since World War II. It is strange policy, for America is likely to need the
nations Bush is jettisoning far more than those he is courting.

It is also strange to see this renversement des alliances so far taking
place in the shadows. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca., and Kay Bailey
Hutchison, R-Tex., have proposed a bipartisan commission to examine any
changes Bush makes, and it is right that Congress, which pays the bills,
gets involved.

Maybe it is time for another agonizing reappraisal of foreign policy. U.S.
forces in Germany and Turkey, as well as in Japan and South Korea, have been
there since the Cold War. But it is naive to believe that simultaneous moves
out of Germany, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are mere coincidences.

This is a new way and dangerous way to make policy. U.S. troops were not
withdrawn from Germany over Bonn's Ostpolitik in the 1970s, nor from Turkey
over its invasion of Cyprus in 1974. If it is time to move out of Saudi
Arabia, why not five years ago?

Trace the paper trail, and you find that a primary goal of Iraq-war
architects such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle has always been to break
the ties between America and Saudi Arabia. Pressure from "democratic" Iraq,
they think, will spread and bring down the Saudi monarchy.

But what if Iraqi "democracy" is an illusion. When Bush officials are asked
if they can accept "Muslim democracy," they give conflicting answers  for
the question has no answer.

"Muslim democracy" is an oxymoron. In the West, the terms "Catholic
democracy" or "Protestant democracy" don't exist because we separate church
and state. In the Middle East, the norm is either a theocracy (e.g., Iran),
or autocrats that keep the theocrats out (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq,
Jordan, Egypt, etc.).

Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle et al. want to change all that. Iraq gives them their
chance, but people with a sense of history must remain skeptical, for the
Middle East tradition is Islamic, not democratic. A weakening of Saudi
monarchy during Bush's Iraq experiment is as likely to lead to more
fundamentalism as to more democracy.

The U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia was a result of the 1991 Gulf
War. The forces should have been withdrawn earlier, for after 1991 Saddam
was no longer a threat.

Had they been withdrawn, it is possible we would have been spared the Sept.
11, 2001, attack, which Osama bin Laden linked to the U.S. military presence
in Saudi Arabia. Had they been withdrawn earlier, it would look less like
punishment today.

The transfer of Army forces out of Germany is a watershed event. Though
Ramstein Air Base remains for now, its future is uncertain. The army
transfer is a victory for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, no fan either of the
Army or of Germany.

By moving troops to eastern Europe, Rumsfeld settles two scores  one with
"old" Europe, for opposing the war, and one with the Army, for being "old"

The army will be weakened. Less than a third the size in Germany it was
during the Cold War  62,000 army troops are there today  moving the
remainder out will have consequences. Army members serving in Germany could
bring family for two-year assignments, and maintaining family life has been
a strong army recruiting tool. Some 100,000 family members and army 4,000
retirees currently live in Germany.

Transferred to Poland, Bulgaria and Romania under Rumsfeld's "lily pad"
plan, Army members will be deployed six months and not be allowed to bring
family. The foreign experience that has enriched so many Army families for
so many years will be lost at a time Americans need a foreign experience 
short of war  more than ever.

Bush's war to remake the Middle East will have consequences that are only
faintly discernible today. NATO has been weakened, and cleavages are opening
among the Europeans, with Britain finding itself pushed out from the central
Franco-German core. The Germans and French (along with Belgium and
Luxembourg) are setting up a military planning group separate from NATO 
the first time such a thing has happened.

It may be time for America to scrap old alliances and friendships, but Bush
has not made the case for it. In the meantime, it is more than likely we
will live to regret the Bush-Rumsfeld habit of foreign policy by pique.

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