Correcting course

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 19, 2003

The inestimable Victor Davis Hanson, over at National Review Online, lays out the case that Bush's foreign policy is not a radical new imperialism, but a return to equilibrium resulting from more than two decades of disuse.

Rather than enacting a sudden and dangerous departure from American moderation, instead we are in effect correcting the prior dangerous veer away from commonsense reciprocity and mutual respect. And this reappraisal has naturally induced hysteria among those who have enjoyed or profited from the recent abnormal character of the foreign policy of the United States. Strong, but lifesaving medicine is not always welcomed by ill patients.

Hansen also makes the observation that, though the economy of a united Europe surpasses our own, we still station tens of thousands of troops in Germany, Belgium and Italy.

It is not a normal situation, after all, for a United Europe -- with a vast population and economy larger than our own � to have tens of thousands of American troops on European soil to protect them from Soviet divisions that no longer exist. Or is it that we are still there to help keep internal peace (the old NATO line of "keeping Germany down") within a continent that nevertheless professes to have evolved to a higher plane � a continent where utopians grandly announce that they have, by fiat, disavowed war?

It really makes no sense to dot the Mediterranean with bases, keep old-fashioned heavy brigades in northern Europe, and run it all out of an ankle-biting Brussels � not when those who are being protected caricature Americans as Neanderthal troublemakers useful only for helot work, such as intervening in Serbia to stop a genocide on Europe's doorstop, or eradicating fascists in Afghanistan. Calling attention to these glaring anomalies was, I think, a moderate and much-needed act of restoring sanity � hardly the work of a firebrand.

The other interesting aspect of Hanson's observation is that it is our presence there that has enabled the Europeans to create their socialist paradises. Without the United States military there to keep the peace and deter the Soviet threat, these countries would have had to spend a much higher percentage of their GDP on their military then they otherwise had to -- and the trend continues.

Anti-war/anti-military types are quick to point out that the United States spends more on its military than "all of Europe combined" or some other such construction. But the reality is that we have to spend that much because we are effectively subsidizing practically every other country in the world.


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July 2003



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