Friday, September 5, 2014

US Troops to Poland: An Empty Gesture Now

The Wall Street Journal Opinion column makes an impassioned plea for putting our American troops in Germany into Poland:
"NATO would have done better to move the thousands of American troops sitting idly at German bases forward to Poland and the Baltic states. This would have sent a clearer message to Moscow of NATO's seriousness by creating a tripwire against a Russian attack."

This won't happen for several reasons.  If something like this were to be implemented without any kind of coherent international foreign policy strategy around it, this would be inviting President Putin to call yet another of our many foreign policy bluffs. The strategy he would use is the same one he used in Ukraine.  It works!

The fundamental issue regarding our German-based U.S. troops is a bilateral issue between our President(s) and the German Chancellor(s).  Germany is a big, productive economy with a significant impact on world economic progress, but in the matter of foreign policy--national, through the European Union, and through NATO--Germany has been getting a free ride and they just have to pick up their own tab and act like big player on the world stage. Don't count on this.  Yet, by not confronting them directly on this issue, a unilateral move would further confuse our allies around the world.

Finally, our military brass in Europe and our troops and their families are enjoying the status quo, thank you very much.  They would be the first to lobby against this move, or at least to plead for a fifteen year ' phased draw down' to make it an empty gesture.

In case, the Journal hasn't noticed President Putin doesn't respond to gambits from weaklings, which is how he perceives our President and his foreign policy advisers.

Our brass, their troops and their equipment can certainly be put to a much better economic uses than vacationing in Germany. Asking the Poles to sign off on this meaningless gesture is an insult to their collective intelligence, because the strategy guarantees a loss for them, the only question would be how big.

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