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A thoughtful article below I found worth passing along. pg SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 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 administration. 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 U.S. troops were not withdrawn from Germany over Bonn's Ostpolitik in the 1970s, nor from Turkey over its invasion of Cyprus in 1974.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" military. 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. http://tinyurl.com/bms8 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk