Shock Poll: 51% of Voters Want US Troops Out of Europe
show comments
  • Verinder Syal

    And what exactly are these “reasonable answers?”

    The fact is that Europe has been getting a free ride for a long time even as they have been fickle allies. NATO is no longer a useful organization. It is another version of the UN – pompous, bureaucratic, and a monument to inertia.

    I am with the 51% of the people who want to bring the troops home. If Obama did try to explain, I suspect this number would rise even more.

  • Kenny

    I’m in that 51% — have been for years.

  • Steven Harbour

    And it’s reasonable for people to ask why we should spend so much of our money to provide a security shield for countries who refuse to carry their fair share of the common burden.

    What is the reasonable answer?

    Although the question should be phrased “it’s reasonable for people to ask why we should spend so much of our money to provide a security shield for countries who refuse to carry hardly any share of the burden of their defense.”

  • Jim.

    @Steven Harbour:

    Make that “those that refuse to shoulder more than half of their share of the burden, and agitate among our elites to advocate the US cutting its own defense to feed an ever-increasing Eurosocialist state.”


    To be fair, Rumsfeld and Cheney’s “Old Europe vs. New Europe” distinction carried in it the implication of our Europe policy– motion from the Left to the Right of the political spectrum is a good thing which America will materially support, and motion in the other direction will meet with our scorn and a withdrawal of support and attention.

    Obama has certanly departed from that strategy. Leaving aside his efforts to move the US hard Left (ObamaCare, reducing Defense by 25% while expanding Entitlements), he has also, with his Missile Shield politics (and bleating “give me some space” to fellow Putin subordinate Medvedev) attempted to withdraw support from formerly communist countries like Poland.

    Obama’s moves in the Middle East have been like Bush’s, but that is where the similarity ends. His strategy in Asia has certainly not been followed up by any necessary buildup of naval capability. His moves in Europe have been completely distinct, to the detriment of our global strategic position. His “lead from behind” position on Libya was simply a decision to follow the French.

    Despite the administration’s good moves in Asia, Obama still fails at comprehensive strategy. Getting a Republican administration in to strengthen the Navy in the eastern Pacific, rebuild our ties with Eastern Europe, provide some backbone to our relations with Russia, explain to Western Europe that it was going to have to pay its own way militarily (boosted defense budgets– perfect for growth!) and continue what good policies of Bush’s that Obama left intact, would be good for this country.

  • Gene

    And as I have been taught my entire life, because Europeans are both intellectually and morally superior to Americans, you’d think they could easily find a defensive strategy that would not require help from us boors in North America.

    WRM, our candidates aren’t going to talk about this, so I think you’re obligated to contribute those reasonable answers.

  • Mogden

    This policy is ridiculous. Let’s declare victory in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, etc. and bring the troops home, now.

  • IcePilot

    South Korea’s GDP is more than 20 times that of North Korea – they can defend themselves.

    Same as Europe.

  • “Our national leadership is taking the national commitment to Europe and to NATO for granted, and this is a major mistake.”

    EXTREMELY timely and well-written post. Europe is a place like no other in the world, in both best and worst senses of that phrase. And therefore we do well to keep it principally on our side – as distinct from China’s or Russia’s (or “Islam’s”). So far as I can see, the only proven way to do that is by keeping the US wisely but amply invested in Europe both economically and militarily. One alternative, that I don’t see too far down the road if we withdrew – a German-orchestrated and -conducted “Russeuropa” (yes, another bad neologism I’ve coined) – may not be an outcome too horrible for SOME to contemplate. But I’m sure the unfolding reality would soon prove awful enough to remove all initial doubt. (Speaking of which, why do I keep envisioning a decoupled Europe’s chief trading-partners being an India-bullying China and a Saudi-dominated Persian Gulf?)

    The “decadent continent” is also where we came from, however much we may fashionably regret, bemoan and despise the fact. I realize the day may come when the US is found to have as much (or more) in common demographically and culturally with China, Saudi and Mexico as with, say, Canada or Australia. Or Scandinavia. And if and when it arrives, I’m sure it will be a signal moment of triumph for Whiggish, “trade = power and peace”-minded multiculturalists, isolationists, pacifists, etc. But I doubt if the result will bear even a passing resemblance to democratic and capitalist nations as we understand any of those 3 terms today.

    “. . . Foreign policy in a democracy isn’t a chess game for elites.”

    Well-put. Too bad the Meadians were’t around to remind our Trilateralist creators back in 1970s of that indelicate fact. Thankfully the latter have mostly(?) failed to “chessify” American electorates since that time (though they may have succeeded all too well with constituencies in many underdeveloped countries).

    BTW, if anyone knows of another forum like Via Meadia, in which “tired old” issues like these are addressed with some semblance of balance, and with a sound eye to our American NATIONAL interest (as distinct from our ever-popular global, corporate, partisan, sectional, ethnic and “lifestyle” interests), would you be sure to let me know?

  • Prof. Mead,

    While there may be some benefit to keeping Europe infantilized and weak by subsidizing their defense, the cost to the US is too high.

    As we subsidize their defense, they grow their welfare state, which American left then points to as a “model” for the US.

    As this debate rages, we are forced to weaken our defenses while attempting match their unsustainable welfare state.

    I suppose one could argue that this is merely a governmental version of “comparative advantage,” allowing the overall system to be more efficient. However, the cost are simply too high. We have our own problems, and the EU devolving to a pre-WWII model isn’t as likely as them simply staying in NATO with out our help.

    Your position seems to be “it’s worked so let’s keep it.” The fact is that as times change, necessary tools change too. The USSR is gone. Russia, while belligerent, is a shadow of its former self, and getting sicker and older.

    Tell me again, why do we really need to be in NATO? Give me a scenario?

  • Brendan Doran

    Hegemony – if that’s what we really want or need – is wise to keep its force towards the core and away from peripheries.

    It’s also true of Maritime Powers land forces.

    In any case all we need in Europe are Airstrips, ports and logistical support and pre-positioned stocks.

    And it might give the Euro-Slackers some motivation to pony up.

  • Kris

    I am surprised by your use of the term “shock poll”. Surely it deserves scare quotes.

  • Hu Ngu

    Let’s say the Yanks pulled the troops out of Europe and closed the bases. Would war break out? What would full-scale war between, say, France and Germany look like these days, anyway?

  • jon kemp

    What was the old saying? U.S. troops were stationed in Europe “To keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the French from surrendering everytime somebody slammed a door”. I share your distain for fickle, thankless European allies. But given the cost of our sacrifices in WWI and WWII, continued “occupation” seems like a reasonable investment. Unfortunately, given the unrest that may accompany a Euro meltdown, we may be glad to have a few divisions pre-positioned near the Rhine.

  • thibaud

    Better leadership might change this, but it won’t come from the American right.

    As the comments on Via Meadia show again and again, it’s not the left, or the center, but the ignorant right and the libbetrarians in this country who overwhelmingly support withdrawal from what, in their fervid fantasies, appears to them as an evil, spineless, decadent continent.

    The nonsense and fantasies spouted about Europe on American right-wing blogs and media have done their damage. Few if any of these folks can grasp that Europe is strategically critical to the US, or that hundreds of European soldiers have fought and died alongside our forces in Afghanistan.

    Or that, as the US withdraws, Russia will inevitably move to fill the vacuum.

  • Without the US military presence in europe, NATO cannot survive…

    Without the US presence in the (increasingly anti-American) UN, the UN cannot survive…

    .. and …. so…?

    ….so…. we won’t be able to go get in any wars through fictitious “international” agencies (the military head of NATO is American, by treaty)? … so …. we won’t send any more “peacekeepers” to third-world “nations” to watch the locals get killed as we stand idly by? … so … we won’t send any more money to be continually wasted by third world wastrels? … so … we won’t keep-up the fiction that europe cares about its own future – and we need to protect them – when they don’t even have kids?

    Out of NATO, out of the UN. Neither serve a useful purpose in the post-Cold War world.

  • .. and we defend europe, while they spend all their tax dollars giving themselves benefits unsustainable absent the children they refuse to have, and look down their noses at America for not having the same bennies as we fund their entire defense needs, an American which (for unknown reasons) continues going over there to get europeans to stop killing each other every couple of decades…

    If you have not yet, read Empires of Trust. It covers the parallels with Rome and America – both whacked enemies, made them allies and had large spheres of economic/military/political alliance. And (tell me if this rings a bell), Rome had two major political parties – one which worshiped the “old world’ (ie Greece) and one which was tired of he Old World telling them how to behave as they surpassed that Old World on every measure. And Rome continually had to go over and keep the Greeks from warring with one another.. and returned to Rome.. and then had to go back again… until they just got tired of it and, after some serious insults, went over and just razed Syracuse.

    I’m TIRED of the Old World. I don’t worship them in their failing dotage. I’m tired of America sending money & men over to prevent their warring with one another. We don’t HAVE to go raze a city, but we need to get out of the way of their continued self-destructive instincts. europeans DON’T CARE about their own future, so why are we insistent on protecting them FOR that future?

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    As a Jacksonian I support a strong military. In the event that we have to go to war, I know that we will have to fight with the Army we have, not the Army we wish we had. The Army we have should therefore have all the logistical bases, allies, and men and material in place and ready to fight. Since America’s wars are generally fought at the end of very long supply lines, on other nation’s territory as I prefer, we must have an extensive network of bases all around the world. Whether we have an excess of bases and prepositioned men and material in NATO countries I can’t speak to, and it is rightly a military decision based on threats, potential threats, and the speed with which military assets can be moved around. So as long as the Pentagon thinks they need NATO and our present force structure in NATO, I support them.

    We should also remember that when our enemies or would be enemies are looking at our power, our extensive basing and so the speed with which America can bring force to bear on them, serves as a deterrent and America wins without fighting.

    There is a common military axiom “Captains should study tactics, and Generals should study logistics”. This is true because the General that can deliver the most powerful force to the battlefield and keep it supplied is highly likely to win the battle.

  • The Olde Kat

    Although all of Professor Mead’s reasons for remaining in Europe are true, defensible and useful, the fact remains that European governments and electorates have decided that it is, in essence, the duty and responsibility of the U.S. military and taxpayers to pay for their welfare societies. With proper education, the current 51% can increase significantly in regard to total withdrawal. It is simply time to give the Europeans that which they truly desire: a Europe devoid of any American military presence outside of the U.S. military cemeteries. We save money, reduce the stretch and strain on military units and assets and they can ponder a European future of their own making.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I am amazed it is only 51%, I would have guessed it was closer to 91%.

  • @jacksonlibertarian

    Why? Why should we go – again – and fight and kill and die – again – for a failed demicontinent that doesn’t even believe in their own future enough to populate it?

    Would you send YOUR son to die for ANY European country? Why?

  • thibaud

    @JL #17 – many wise thoughts, well stated.

    Your Jacksonianism seems to be in conflict with your libertarianism. How do you feel about the stated desire of the small-government Pauls for a frankly isolationist foreign policy?

    No snark intended, just seeking an honest answer: How can one simultaneously be a Jacksonian supporting a strong military and a libertarian seeking to bring this nation back to its late 19c military posture and international position?

  • Brian

    Stationing troops in Europe and Korea are important for military stragetic reasons. Our military must always stand ready to deploy against potentially hostile forces across the globe; troops in Europe deter Russia whereas troops in South Korea deter not only North Korea but China.

  • Kenny

    Hu Ngu @ 12 asks “What would full-scale war between, say, France and Germany look like these days, anyway?”

    Need you ask? It would be a repeat of WWII except this time France would collapse over a long weekend instead of a few weeks.

    2. If Mead and the rest what to keep the U.S. defending Europe, fine. But let’s bill the Europeans for the service using full cost account principles. That’s sober them up [darn] fast.

  • Europe is a quagmire. Troops out now!

  • MarkJ


    Francois Hollande’s top-secret plan for improving the French economy by 50%:

    1. Declare war against Germany.
    2. Lose.
    3. Cede half of France to the Germans and rule the rest from Vichy.

    Hey, it worked pretty good in 1940, so it might just work again!

  • The Other Jim

    I couldn’t believe it when I got to the end of this post and no answers had been given. I kept looking for the “next page” button.

    It’s not enough to merely state that we “have good reasons” to keep some troops overseas. Indeed, it is not enough to just name a few reasons that justify a few troops.

    You need to make a compelling, overwhelming argument as to why The Brokest Nation In History absolutely needs to spend multi-billions annually to keep a staggering force of men, women and equipment all over the Earth at all times.

  • craig

    please clarify the reasons and try to give some type of cost benefit analysis. if exiting europe would save $200B annually but cost us more in some other way, we at least need to try to quantify it to see which is worse. for example, if exiting europe means their governments have to spend more on their own defense and they have a slower GDP growth and that translates into slower GDP for the US and that costs $X Billion…well, let’s compare the savings from withdrawing to the loss of slower GDP growth.

    Or if withdrawing means that every 10-20 years we have to go aid in a war over there,…well what is an estimate of that cost and do the savings from exiting more than cover the ad hoc expense we would bear every 10-20 years?

    inquiring minds want to know.

  • alanstorm

    thibaud @ 21:

    Why do you assume that JL’s libertarian side encompasses the Ron Paul isolationist streak?

    You have no room to speak about others’ inconsitencies, as, per your comment at 14, you appear to be a leftist who believes in projecting American power and protecting American interests, which is, sadly, no longer a priority for the US left.

    “Better leadership might change this, but it won’t come from the American right.”

    Please list examples of leadership on this from the left. I won’t be holding my breath.

  • For those who have been looking, in vain, for a reasonable reason to continue our European deployment, here is one.

    The USA is the premier provider of military security on the planet. We are also one of the most financially irresponsible ones on the planet as well given our weight in the world economy. The world puts up with our BS in economic matters in significant part because we put up so much security which would lead to horrifying results if this came undone.

    If we want to lay down the military hegemony because it no longer suits, balance our budget and drop our debt to a sustainable level first so that we don’t get fiscally raked over the coals by the world we have thrown to the wolves as we continue to beg for their money.

  • Jerry Carroll

    The days of Uncle Sugar are over. So are the days of the international talking shops. The world is returning to narrowly defined national interests. If the Greeks don’t want to play by the rules, fine. Let them return to their traditional chaos until another dictator arises. No skin off our nose. The British have awakened to a European Union that says they have to let prisoners cast their votes. A majority already resent the loss of sovereignty to Brussels. Its political elite won’t be able to stifle this much longer. The Germans are tired of being beasts of burden for the rest of Europe. The French are poltroons; nothing new there. The Scandinavians, Italians and Spaniards have woken too late to Islamization. Despite war drums over here about a China threat, it is a feeble and increasingly ungovernable society, toxic from pollution, once you leave the pockets of prosperity. Russia? It is an alcoholic, hollowed out society rapidly aging. Not much threat there that I can see. Japan is a few years away from becoming a geriatric basket case. Africa is returning to barbarism. Iran is a threat, but evidently there is nothing to be done about it except bluster at the talking shops. So the Israelis will deal with them. Mexico is a narco state, its oligarchy even more corrupt than ever. As for us, we’re broke and ripe for civil disorder.

  • EvilBuzzard

    I’d at least initiate a draw-down. It could sober some people up in Greece and Germany both.

  • Barnacle Bill

    It is not in the interest of the US for any rival superpower (or wannabe, or hasbeen trying to recapture the mojo) to dominate Europe or East Asia. Our aliance systems, including NATO, exist to assure our allies that we will defend that interest. In the cases of NATO, Korea and Japan, the forces of our allies in each theater are considerably stronger than the forward-deployed US forces there. What the forward deployment does is demonstrate that we have skin in the game, thereby stiffening the spines of our allies when our rivals rattle sabers. Our ability to defend our interests would wane rapidly if the various European nations, Japan & South Korea all made like Finland.

  • cubanbob

    What is the mission and what is the national interest in keeping the troops both in S. Korea and in Europe? Until there is a satisfactory reason for both and the willingness to provide the capability for the mission both are a huge drain on the economy. Pulling out of both will have a positive effect for the US, we won’t be the donkeys for both (and at our expense to boot). They will have to seriously contemplate their defense needs and ultimately all parties will want us back after their realize what a horrible mistake it was to being such ingrates to the US. And all parties includes the Russians and the Chinese. neither of them truly want a rearmed Germany and Japan and S. Korea. As for the UN, truly it is time to quit the UN and kick it out of NY.

  • GC

    Your following comment ties for first place in today’s GC Best Quotes of the Day:
    “There is a certain arrogance at work here — a belief that public opinion can be ignored for decades and that the peasants will pay taxes and do what they are told without asking questions.

    That isn’t how it works anymore, and unless the establishment figures this out, much more than the NATO alliance could be at risk.”

    Here is the other winner (from today’s WSJ by Robert Costa:

    “Unlike Mr. Carter and Mr. Romney, he (President Obama) has never managed a payroll or lifted a company out of debt. If anything, Mr. Obama’s comments this week reveal a president in the peanut gallery, heckling and pointing fingers, but utterly removed from work in the arena.”

    Congrats to both of you.

  • orthodoc

    In response to thibaud:

    “Better leadership might change this, but it won’t come from the American right.

    “As the comments on Via Meadia show again and again, it’s not the left, or the center, but the ignorant right and the libbetrarians in this country who overwhelmingly support withdrawal from what, in their fervid fantasies, appears to them as an evil, spineless, decadent continent.

    “The nonsense and fantasies spouted about Europe on American right-wing blogs and media have done their damage. Few if any of these folks can grasp that Europe is strategically critical to the US, or that hundreds of European soldiers have fought and died alongside our forces in Afghanistan.

    “Or that, as the US withdraws, Russia will inevitably move to fill the vacuum.”

    Aside from the namecalling, do you have any specific contributions? How is Europe strategically important to the United States today, in the here and now? Demographically, it’s in a death spiral. Financially, it’s a sink hole. Culturally, it’s dead, unless you like morose [scatological comment removed] about how awful life is.

    As for Russia, in 50 years, there won’t be enough Russians to fill Russia, let alone Eastern Europe. So cut the Red Menace [scatological comment removed].

    As for the “contributions”from European soldiers, let’s look at coalition deaths. So far, almost 2900 soldiers have died in Afghanistan. 1900 have been Americans. Here are the numbers for everyone else.
    UK: 414
    Canada: 158
    France: 83
    Germany: 56
    Italy: 50
    Denmark: 42
    Poland: 37
    Spain: 34
    Australia: 32
    Netherlands: 25
    Romania: 20
    Georgia: 16
    Turkey: 14
    Norway: 10
    Estonia: 9
    Hungary: 7
    New Zealand: 6
    Sweden: 5
    Czech Republic: 5
    Latvia: 3
    Finland: 2
    Jordan: 2
    Portugal: 2
    South Korea: 2
    Albania: 1
    Belgium: 1
    Lithuania: 1

    I’m sure we all appreciate the incredible sacrifice of the Belgians, Finns, and Swedes. /sarc

    Let’s update Bismarck’s quote: the whole of Europe is not worth the bones of a single American Marine. Time to leave.

  • Diggs

    I served four years (1986-1990) in Nuebrucke/Baumholder, FRG, 8th ID, as part of a 22-year Army career. The British had the right idea then. They were still an occupying army and didn’t care what the Germans wanted. They only cared what was good for UK troops and defense. The US Army tip-toed around ridiculous German requirements for our training areas, and charged us time and again for tire tread marks on their precious beet fields while we trained to defend them. The two jokes I remember from that time were; “The Germans will defend their country to the last American!” and “The eldest German son inherits the farm, the next eldest inherits the ‘maneuver damage’ rights”. The requirement for forward bases is real, but does not require anything more than pre-positioned equipment depots like Miesau and K-Town (if they even exist anymore). If the Germans won’t accept a crapload of US dollars to allow us the privilege of pre-positioning equipment on their precious soil with the intent of using it simply to defend their lazy butts, then [profanity removed] em. Let the defense end at the English Channel.

  • Mike

    I doubt that our military bases in Germany have much to do with defending Europe anymore. The bases have to do with projecting our force into that part of the world, especially into the Middle-East.

    Until this country withdraws from projecting military force, these bases are indispensable. We might as well consider Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Medical Center permanent American fixtures.

  • Bob

    Y’all might check this in more depth before self inflicting a wound.

    Many of those old, post-WWII SOFA’s remain in place with Europeans gladly sharing the cost, because for every GI stationed there, there’s a local who doesn’t have to be drafted. When I was stationed there, it was far cheaper to keep US troops in Europe than it would have been to station them in the US, allowing more troops for the same defense dollars.

    Further, all those resources are already foward-deployed, saving time and expense getting them to trouble spots in the Mid East, Eur-Asia or Africa.

  • Bottom line question: What has NATO done for us? And the answer nothing since the end of the Cold War, which was NATO’s entire reason for being. Europe faces no credible threat for which the military alliance is an answer. See why.

  • Leon Haller

    I have only skimmed the comments, but I think all are overlooking one fact. We Americans subsidize European decadence. Why should we? Obviously there was a case for NATO in the aftermath of WW2; perhaps even as long as the Cold War was going. But today? The US presence merely allows the pathetic Europeans to maintain the fantasy that their evil and ridiculous social democratic ‘model’ is somehow viable. Thus, US troops effectively subsidize European socialism.

    But socialism is a wrecker of nations – by means of both economic inefficiency as well as character breakdown (in social democracies, as the US itself is fast becoming, people don’t forge ahead based on their own work and initiative, but organize politically to try to steal wealth from others – and then people fight forever to hold onto their ill-gotten welfare gains; cf. Wisconsin’s public sector unions). In effect, the US is like an indulgent but ultimately reckless parent; Europe the spoiled adolescent offspring. Nothing toughens the coddled up more effectively than forcing them to become self-supporting.

    Hence, it is in white Americans’ racial/civilizational interests to force the Europeans to become tough again. This can only happen negatively: through withdrawal of support. If the Europeans do rediscover their martial manhood, that might spill over into other areas of civilizational concern, like resisting the Left’s sentimental anti-racism, which itself is the supreme danger facing the West today (insofar as it weakens resistance to genetically alien immigration, and domestic multiculturalism).

  • Noah Nehm

    If people were aware of the anti-American media bias in Europe (Google: Davids Medienkritik) the number would be higher than 51%.

  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I count myself among the 51%. Let Europe and Asia spend the blood and treasure to defend themselves, and migrate the US military into a Swiss-style arrangement with a small standing force but a large reserve. The founders were not big fans of large standing armies, and I tend to agree with them.

    Oh, and modernize the nuclear stockpile.

  • Sam L.

    I think we know Obama will not do this–it’s not green, it’s not “peace-loving”, so his bade would not accept it. Unless–maybe–he could cut the defense budget by half. Get a LOT of push-back from the right, though

  • John

    >>> The arguments for the US presence in Europe are credible, clear and compelling

    [Scatological comment removed]. Europe’s had a free ride for 60 years, cursing us the whole while. The cold war ended 20 years ago.

  • VA Teacher

    Every argument that is made for why we need to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan goes double for Europe. Bases to fight the war on terror? Seriously?

    Bill Clinton should have announced a five-year plan to pull the U.S. out of Europe in 1993. The last 20 years have not changed the fundamentals. The threat to Europe is minor and the Europeans can afford to deal with it themselves.

  • William Vincent

    I am retired military and over the years I spent several 2-3 week military tours in Germany. It is time for Europe to pull its own weight. We do need to pull most if not all troops out of Europe. Yes, I understand that Russia is a threat, and Germany may overpower France. America can no longer afford to take care of Europe.

  • Sapience

    At one point in time, people had to turn their plows into weapons. It’s time to turn our weapons into plows again.

    We need to either start billing these nations and stop stimulating their economies.

    Or, we need to bring the troops home and start having them multi-task by working on our infrastructure while keeping their warring skills up to date via regular training.

    By no means do I think we should reduce the size of our military. It is, however, time to stop letting ourselves be taken advantage of.

  • BWP

    Perhaps if the Europeans had to actually defend themselves against the hordes knocking at the gates they’d have a better understanding of liberty and its costs. Then perhaps they do a better job of creating jobs and defending their cultures against the Islamic tide that threatens to destroy Europe from within.

    Perhaps saving $1 Trillion/year by reducing our military footprint throughout the world we could start to pay down the $16 Trillion debt Republicans and Democrats have created in their quest for power.

    Or, perhaps, this “shock poll” is nothing more than a reflection that the campaign of Dr. Ron Paul has been heard by the sheep and they’ve awaken to the destruction to our Republic done by the ‘leading Democratic and Republican officials.’

  • Rjschwarz

    The US is unlikely to get involved in the rioting and civil conflict that seems to be Europes likely future.

    I see value in bases in East Europe but think a policy of pushing for a neutral east Europe alliance that acted as a buffer between Russia and West Europe (possibly with an arrangement to use Russian equipment to satisfy the Russians to allow it) would be a better arrangement all around.

  • CaliforniaChangeAgent

    Support for protecting Europe would erode in future polls if Americans knew just how niggardly are the contributions from many NATO members, particularly in Southern Europe. P3 Orion submarine hunters in Portugal with no radar/sonar that instead have pilots peering out the window to look for subs with the naked eye. This is the state-of-the-art in defending the Atlantic side of NATO in Europe and it would not be difficult to scoop up a few more of these outrage-inducing examples.

    The risks of abandoning Korea (and Japan and Taiwan) are clearer to me and our national interest in preventing wars with China more obvious. Our national interest in being the chief bankroller of NATO (witness the tab for the lead-from-behind Libya operation) is less obvious and with accelerating dis-investment from other NATO members in Europe, the argument in favor of the status quo is further strained.

    As they are the saviors of the Euro, the Germans should be allowed to re-arm and save NATO in Europe. 70 years and nearly three generations is sufficient time to rid Germany of its most martial leaders and tendencies, no?

  • Matt

    While I understand the benefits of the US military umbrella, the countervailing factor that seems to be ignored is that this very same network of bases and foreign entanglements is what causes us to have so many enemies in the first place. What enemies do we have that do not cite direct US military action, or indirect support to foreign powers far from US shores, as reasons for their ire?

  • A German tourist went to Greece, and was questioned on entry by a customs man:

    Customs: Occupation?
    German: Nein! Only vacation.

  • thibaud, #14, imagines that the ‘Right’ somehow views Europe as “an evil, spineless, decadent continent.”

    While evil can be dismissed as over-the-top, goading rhetoric, spineless and decadent are two descriptors that could certainly be applied to modern European leaders, as well as many American and other world leaders. In that regard, thibaud, the Right sees the world clearly.

    NATO was created to defend the West from Bolshevik communist aggression. The Bolshevik threat is gone; therefore (absent a compelling iteration of reasons from Mr. Mead) there is no need for NATO. Congratulations, we won.

    The real questions, I submit, are these: what replaces NATO? What is the defense structure required by the modern, western world to meet its security needs? What are threats? Who is threatening us?

    Answer those questions and we have the basis to create a new, shared security structure. Until then, it simply is not clear why America must spend large amounts of money every year to defend Europe.

  • dealer4

    Lots of comments on here decrying the subsidizing of European security and criticizing NATO’s continued utility.

    The point missed in all this disdain for Europe (some well deserved IMO) is that Europe provides a power projection platform for the United States into regions of eminent national interest, namely the Middle East and North Africa.

    US bases in Europe subsidize Europe’s defense, but they also subsidize US power projection, saving US lives (due to the proximity of Level IV medical care) and money.

    The issue is more complex than “[profanity removed] Europe” or “multilateralism is an end unto itself.” Rather, the US should be clear-eyed about its involvement in Europe and NATO, maintaining a presence for own purposes and interests. Sure, some of Europe’s flaccid defense capabilities derive from years of US subsidies, but the US’s ability to operate relatively freely in its own interests derives in no small measure to the presence of US bases in Europe.

  • Thomas Hazlewood

    On 9-11,for about 20 seconds, Europe felt ‘Now we are all Americans’.

    To which statement they quickly added that ‘we had it coming’…to which they’ve now added, “Of course, you probably did it yourselves”.

    One would be saddened to lose friends such as these..but, we really should try….

  • thibaud

    The isolationist roots of the American right are now showing, in all their ugliness.

    Re. cost-benefit analysis, I could be wrong but I would be very surprised if our military spending over the past 70 years has not produced excellent returns to US economic growth, productivity and competitiveness.

    Are there unnecessary military programs, military waste, bloat? Sure. It’s probably wise to reduce headcount in certain areas, including troops stationed in Europe. But let’s not pretend that the civilian economy has not benefited hugely, and won’t continue to benefit hugely, from robust US military spending on materiel and the R&D behind it.

    Especially during a time of slackened civilian demand, it would be foolish to slash the military budget as the libbetrarians wish.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Verinder Syal, et al.
    RE: Reasonable Answers

    And what exactly are these “reasonable answers?” — Verinder Syal

    It will make the way clear for the Russians to try to do what the Soviets couldn’t.

    Not that you’re any sort of student of military history. So I expect your sort of being one of the 51%. After all….the vaunted American public education system STOPPED teaching ‘history’ a LONG TIME AGO.


    LTC, IN, Airborne-Ranger (Ret)
    [History repeats itself. That’s one of the problems with History.]

  • Chuck Pelto

    P.S. And the blood of that conflict will be on YOUR hands…..

  • Joe Blow

    While I understand in principle the reasoning behind forward force projection and the historical reasons behind a U.S. presence in Europe, 70 years of European free riding is enough. The concern voiced above about infantilization is also a serious problem. Just like Americans, Europeans believe a lot of stupid things, and the longer they are sheltered from the realities of the world’s security situation, the worse they will get. They want to believe Israel is an enemy, Iran is a friend, and the U.S. is just after some oil? Fine. They should be allowed to experience the consequences of their beliefs. It should not fall to the U.S., in perpetuity, to protect Europe and Europeans from themselves and the consequences of the little socialist culture bubble they’ve created to live in.

  • Eurydice

    I don’t think there’s anything so grand as “foreign policy” going on here – I think NATO is a way for the US to do whatever it wants when it wants to, and that Europe agrees with that as long as we pay for it. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not something that can be articulated on either side without a lot of high-minded hollering.

  • Mastro

    I seriously wonder if the Army, etc’s enthusiasm for being in Europe is related to the great beer, beautiful women, culture of Germany etc- versus Kuwait or middle-of nowhere base in Texas/Oklahoma etc-

    My dad had a ball in Munich with his 18 year old blonde German girlfriend back in the Elvis years- must skew the thinking a bit.

    I just read that the Netherlands sold ALL their tanks- let the US protect them-

  • Iskra

    We have something like 75,000+ troops in Europe. That is close to the number of troops that we have in Afghanistan.

    Yeah, we really need to keep a 75,000+ presence in Europe. Any day now the big bad Russian bear is going to repeat the Battle of the Kursk.

    Good God, redistribute some of this money and resources to other theaters, to special ops and to elite units that could actually use it.

  • BWP

    Actually, Chuck, quite a few of us do read, contemplate, and study military history and trends. Some of us even try to imagine how different scenarios (with different political and economic factors) may play out in different regions of the world.

    Given the broad globalization of the economic markets that both produce weapons for Russia, China, and the US and produce wealth to buy such weapons for Islamic thugs from Pakistan and the Philippines to Tunisia, I can comfortably state that the military response in any crisis is going to be different depending on the States involved, their political will, and the impact on their economies.

    Russia will continue its drive to politically return the Eastern European states to their sphere of influence, regardless of our military presence in Germany or Spain. In Europe, many of their citizens have issues with our bases and troops in their country. If Italy, Spain and France had to defend themselves, their economies would improve with the growth of the security state, just as is has in the US. Of course, political will is a different horse all together, uh?

    Can you really believe that the US would stop Chinese aggression in Asia even with our troops in Taiwan and Japan without nuclear intervention? Given the weakness of our fleet presence in the Taiwan Strait, the fragile state of the economies in China and the US, and the complete lack of will to confront any State militarily on the part of the US leadership under Obama, I think the situation would go from bad to worse regardless of our military presence in the Eastern Rim of the Pacific.

    So, yes, some of us have the background or education to give thought to these issues beyond the “shock poll” questions; some of us even comment on blog sites…..

  • thibaud

    @ Steve #53: “what replaces NATO? What is the defense structure required by the modern, western world to meet its security needs? What are threats? Who is threatening us?”

    Fair questions all. I’ll address NATO and the European theater. Taking your q’s in reverse order:

    a) Our biggest enemy is disorder that would cause a severe disruption in global trade. Keeping sea lanes open is absolutely vital to our and the world’s prosperity, hence to the stability and strength of our democracy. While some nations eg the Japanese, maybe someday the Indians, could help us a bit, no other power on the planet is even remotely capable of keeping the SLOCs open. That burden’s on our shoulders, and it’s in our national interest that we shoulder it and spend the hundreds of billions annually that it requires.

    b) “threats” include the rise of regional powers who if unchecked or embedded in a security architecture of some sort will cause war or other disruptions in strategic regions vital to our prosperity and security. Those regions are three: Europe, the Near East and northwest Asia, and East Asia.

    c) what replaces NATO will have to be a security architecture that keeps the Russians at bay … by including them, as in the old mafia saying “hug your enemies closer.” This will take a lot of ingenuity, care and feeding, though it may not require a significant forward deployment of US troops.

    Above all, we should focus our efforts on the Germans, who are sliding irreversibly toward an embrace of the Russians and the Russian economy. This needs to be counterbalanced wherever we can. A German-Russian condominium, so to speak, would definitely pose a threat to our security down the road.

    No expert here but I’d guess that there’s a compromise position we could craft and get good mileage from regarding sharing some aspects of missile defense with the Russians.

    We should cooperate with them where we can both address our respective problems with not only militant islamists but also an expansionary China. The Russians are as threatened by China, at least in the Far East, as we are.

  • BWP

    P.S. … and we will not accept the Blood on Our Hands epithet casually tossed out, either.

  • IllinoisCynic

    Sort out a strategy, figure out what we really want to protect or accomplish over there, and then communicate it to the American people.

    The Germans aren’t the problem, IMHO. The coal mines and much of the former heavy industry of the Ruhr are long since gone. A breakup of the EU does not portend the Wehrmacht marching into Paris or Warsaw again.

    The Russians, on the other hand ………

  • DavidA

    Why is it all or nothing? Some thoughts:
    1- Disband Nato and have pacts with different countries based on need – naval bases in Greece, air bases in Germany, etc.
    2 – Bill them. It would at least cause some debate on their part and maybe they’d cough up some dough.
    3 – WWI and WWII did not take place out of the blue. There were warning signs years before war broke out. And it can easily be argued that it was a good thing that the european armies exhausted themselves before the US committed troops.
    4 – The Soviets couldn’t handle Afghanistan. You think they want to swallow Europe?
    5 – Dump the UN. Start building support for a new world organization with limited power and open only to democracies (let others watch and learn). Use eminent domain to seize UN HQ in NY and create a new, better organization that doesn’t have the power to subvert national sovereignty.
    6 – Dr. Mead, I think you need to make the case to support your position, because it’s anything but “credible, clear and compelling”.

  • thibaud

    @orthodoc #35: “How is Europe strategically important to the United States today, in the here and now? Demographically, it’s in a death spiral. Financially, it’s a sink hole. Culturally, it’s dead, unless you like morose [scatological comment removed] about how awful life is.”

    Europe’s not important? You’re joking, right?

    Lets start with your own personal financial interest, shall we?

    Assuming that, as an orthopedist you’re not engaged in international business, your own retirement funds are critically dependent on a healthy Europe, given that most major US corporations derive around one-quarter of their global revenues from the region. And emerging market nations, too, derive a huge chunk of their export revenues from Europe. (That also assumes that you’re a more intelligent investor than that nutcase Congressman, the hero of the libbetrarians who’s put s.t. like 70% of his portfolio in one volatile asset class, gold.)

    So if Europe tanks, then your and every other American’s prosperity and financial fortunes get hammered as well.

    What goes for your retirement fund goes for our national economic outlook. We lead the global economy, remember? We’re joined at the hip to Europe – and for that matter, to the Gulf states, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, the South Koreans, and increasingly, to Mexico and Brazil as well.

    Your other comments about demographics and culture are ridiculous right-wing American exaggerations of the sort that only serve to make you look ignorant.

    Start with demography. Europe, like (non-hispanic) America, is enduring decreased fertility rates _in general_, but various European nations, esp the Swedes, French and the Irish, have fertility rates that are close to or higher than ours. As to Russia’s demography, you need to refresh your understanding of the data. The nation’s fertility rate has rebounded and is increasing.

    As to culture, I’m not sure which aspects exactly you’re talking about, but our own junk-ridden, time-waster obsessed culture is nothing to be proud of. We have a very rich history that some Europeans are ignorant of, or slight to their own discredit.

    But Europe is the mother of nearly all (African music/jazz being the only exception) the best ideas, institutions and cultural expressions that America has devised. For starters, take two cultural areas where America has excelled all nations in modern culture – government and modern poetry: the Federalists built their approach on the Whig theories of Locke and the divided/balanced government theories of Montesquieu. Wallace Stevens, TS Eliot and Walt Whitman were all heavily influenced by European poets – Stevens especially by Keats and Yeats, Eliot by the English metaphysical and the French symbolist poets.

    As to your tally of European nations’ combat deaths in Afghanistan, thanks for documenting my point. Aside from the crassness of your rant, it’s simply nonsense to say the Europeans have not suffered, and willingly shouldered a burden, on behalf of a war which didn’t benefit them in the slightest and which we asked them to undertake on OUR behalf. Pretty shabby to sneer at one’s brothers-in-arms when they’re bleeding on YOUR behalf.

    The ignorance and spite on these boards toward the one set of nations with whom we share a common democratic, Enlightenment heritage is appalling.

    If I were able to make a plea for donations from the Facebook gazillionaires, I’d ask Z and co. to set aside several million each year to combat the ignorance, stupidity and surliness of American isolationists toward our European cousins.

    I’d start by reviving and extending thousands of citizen-to-citizen exchanges so that Americans can start to see for themselves the prosperity, high cultural attainments and clean and competent politics of the northern Europeans in particular.

  • bflat879

    Why should this be a shock? It should be a no-brainer. There are no good reasons to keep troops in Europe, let the Europeans protect themselves. They certainly don’t appreciate what we’ve done and they’re unreliable, at best, in helping us out.

  • Rich K

    There maybe a risk from our side but I see it as more endemic on the part of the European “bien pensant” who hate us and all we stand for. And with the population tilting more islamic every year it wont get any better there,no matter what the clowns in Brussels think.

  • Richard

    Forward basing rights are most useful. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that our European “friends” will actually let us use them for likely contingencies. Anybody remember 1973. After much pressure, Portugal let us use our base in the Azores. None of the rest, though. So tough luck for Poland, Israel, Czech Republic and others who are actually friends.

  • He Wei Jin

    Count me among the 51%. I am surprised it isn’t much more. WWII is long past. The Cold War is over. Why are we in Europe providing for the security of countries that are only nominally our allies? Bases for force projection and access to top quality medical facilities are all well and good, but we pay a high price for them.
    I am not sure that it is in our national interest to keep our troops there. Let the Europeans provide for their own defense, or not as they choose.

  • I’m fascinated by what seems to be a small but growing chorus, consisting of

    1) the usual loud overcurrents of Francophobia (decadent swine!), PLUS

    2) certain quieter undercurrents of largely backhanded-praising Germanophilia (“So EFFICIENT and sturdy and reliable! so – well, um, you know, SUPERIOR!” Exactly: and so, as I recall, was a certain Lightbearer and present Prince of Darkness – who hasn’t exactly lost his knack for getting results either).

    In short, more or less the same ingredients that helped make the 1st half of the 20th century such an exciting all-but-nonstop celebration of martial virtue. Except that pre-WWI Germanophilia was more overt and explicit: Throughout the better part of the 19th century European enthusiasm for German culture, science, academic achievement, etc, bordered on a kind of worship – partic. among various countries’ educated and “productive” classes (who then naturally were aghast at how swollen German heads had become by c. 1910). Not all that unlike our own elites’ more recent obeisance to Chinese superiority, it seems to me.

    This time, however, I imagine a possible German bid for European domination (likely, mind you, only in the event of an American decoupling) being both quieter, subtler and SMARTER – i.e., done WITH rather than against Russia. And no, I don’t for an instant believe the Russians BY THEMSELVES have anything like the efficiency, the drive, the finesse or the vision required to make Europe an exclusive sphere of influence. “Harnessed” by Berlin, though, they just MIGHT get a second wind (and even settle for second fiddle?).

    @ #40:
    “Hence, it is in white Americans’ racial/civilizational interests to force the Europeans to become tough again.”

    You’re certainly right to a point. Then again, who’s to know where that point is, in each and every one of multiple instances of culture, history and opportunity? Or might it even be – like all sorts of other subtle, time-sifted things – a point known only to God? And to us ONLY as we wait upon Him? (And yes, I know how tedious and humiliating that ordeal can be to our modern crypto-deist souls.) Otherwise even we Yanks may regret how tough we forced those seemingly decadent-beyond-recovery Europeans to become. Frankly I’m not comfortable underestimating anyone – even French or Russians. And certainly not Germans. Meanwhile, as in everything, be prayerful what you wish for.

  • Mr. G

    Best comment has been by alex scipio. We are inflating the worth of NATO, the UN and don’t even know what value Europe will be in the future. A military base without a military strategy is a money pit without much military benefit. Considering the intelligence failures America has had aren’t we better off dismantling the legacy bases and upgrading that aspect of defense.

  • LarryD

    The reason US troops were left in Europe after WWII, that no one wants to talk about, is that they are there to prevent the Europeans from starting WWIII. They are a very gentle, understated occupying force. The Europeans like to delude themselves that seventy years of peace is their own doing, but I’m not sure even the presence of US troops can keep the lid on too much longer, given the current economic and social rot.

  • Glen

    There is a certain arrogance at work here — a belief that public opinion can be ignored for decades and that the peasants will pay taxes and do what they are told without asking questions.

    This arrogance — which is shared by both major parties in Washington — is something that we can no longer afford. Rasmussen’s polling is yet another early warning sign that massive turmoil lies ahead for both America and Europe. Jay Cost hit the nail on the head a few days ago when he wrote:

    The American political process is starting to break down because of major changes to the political economy of this country. For half a century after World War II, the economy grew at such an incredible pace that we could have low taxes, high social welfare benefits, and a low deficit. This was one of the major reasons why there could be bipartisanship. Economic growth bankrolled these “great” compromises. It had very little to do with the foresight, courage, or moderation of the pols in Washington. They were just riding the wave generated by the private sector.

    But all that seems to be over now. For more than a decade (not just the Great Recession but going back to 2000), economic growth has been far below its postwar average, and too low to keep the old regime afloat. You can’t have low taxes, high spending, and low deficits when the economy can’t break 3 percent growth.

    This is something the D.C. establishment still does not seem to get. For years, their “farsighted,” bipartisan compromises were possible because the guys with the green eyeshades told them that the economy would grow to fill the gaps that they couldn’t fill. But now the economy can’t do that – so we have a mind-bogglingly large deficit and increased polarization in the political sphere.

    The post-war Keynesian/Progressive governing coalition is finally breaking down. It’s simply impossible for any economy to survive (much less thrive) when an ever greater share of its output is channeled into non-productive uses. The easy elite consensus that permitted ever-increasing domestic social expenditures along with robust defense spending (with both domestic and foreign beneficiaries) is gone. So is the accommodation between businesses and regulators that perpetuated the myth that so-called impartial experts could centrally manage the economy for both growth and fairness.

    A little more presidential leadership won’t resurrect public support for American troops in Europe. Despite the promise that new communications technologies hold for greater prosperity, we are entering a new and profoundly chaotic era. As you have been arguing for many months, the Blue Social Model is dead. But the transition to its successor will neither be easy nor guaranteed. Turbulent times are coming, and not everyone will survive the future. Be prepared for those who fear being left behind to blow-up the entire party.

  • jkl

    Korea? The USA banned japan for having and army so they must defend Japan but the little japanese army is enought to instill fear in SK so they must protect SK from NK( they could destroy Seoul, thre is no way to stop a bomabardment before the city is vanished) Japan and China.
    The UK special forces landed in Afghanistan the night of 9/11. They were the first to come to aid the USA. And has done it once and again .
    BTW: France pulled out of NATO in the sixties, they have nuclear capacity and supported the deployment of Pershing and Cruise missilles in the 80´s when most countries but fot the UK and Holland were reluctant

  • orthodoc

    thibaud, i could take your comments more seriously if you’d lose the condescension and read a bit.

    I stand by my comments. First, From a strategic and military viewpoint, Europe is increasingly irrelevant. The fact that our economies are intertwined is interesting, but not germane to the discussion of whether US troops should be stationed there. There is no reason why the presence or absence of US forces has any bearing on commerce. And the Europeans can screw up their economy quite well on their own, regardless of what the US does or does not do.

    Second, the demographics of Europe, and fertility rates, are neither left nor right wing. The numbers don’t lie. You managed to find three countries with fertility rates close to replacement. Congratulations. Let’s look at them.
    Ireland? The increase is primarily fueled by non-Irish immigration – a quarter of all children born in Ireland are born to foreign mothers as of 2010.
    France? The fertility rate for women born in France métropolitaine is 1.70. The only reason that the total fertility rate approaches replacement is, again, immigration.
    Sweden? Fertility rate is 1.94. Still below replacement.
    Russia? The rate for Russia as a whole is 1.54. To call that a rebound is a dead cat bounce. And the only areas with population increase are in Siberia and the East.

    As for European culture, it’s true that much of what we hold dear is the intellectual product of the Enlightenment and the flowering of thought 200 years ago. But it’s hard to see why US troops need to stay there, other than to visit the museums. Europe now is a decadent, dying culture. And whether or not you approve of American culture is also not germane. But thanks for the puerile snobbery about Walt Whitman et al: without it, I guess I’d just be settin’ down by the crick, lisnen to some good ol’ country. Did you get those links from your freshman class in Western Culcha’?

    As for Afghanistan, you may want to go and look at where Islamic terrorists struck, and rethink your frankly idiotic implication that the Europeans joined the US purely out of benevolence and comradeship. The point remains. A Europe of 400 million was unable and unwilling to field a competent military, and the US would up doing all the heavy lifting. Sorry: the US and Canada suffered 70% of the casualties. If you add the UK and Australia, it’s over 85%.

    As for bleeding on someone’s behalf, I’ll take that seriously when the Europeans say thanks for our sacrifices on their behalf, both in war and in peace.

  • Leon Haller

    Europe will only survive its coming confrontation with aggressive, civilization-destroying Islam through a revivified Berlin-Moscow axis. German cognitive/industrial superiority allied to Russian resources and Slavic manpower and authoritarianism. The US stands in the way of this alliance, as well as any general continent-wide return to racialist/nationalist consciousness.

    We are talking about the literal biological survival of Western man. The increasingly, insanely multikulti USA is already lost to the Occident. The battle for racial civilizational survival against Islamic colonization and recrudescent Asia will be won or lost in Europe. If America withdraws, it may just lead to a rediscovery of European martiality. If not, then the Euro-weaklings will have proven themselves unworthy of life, and will pass from history’s stage. At least our descendants won’t have to listen to their precious “l’antiraciste” hectoring.

  • Torrance

    We don’t have troops in Europe to protect Europe. They are there to project American power to Europe, Asia and Africa. We have about 20K Combat troops in Germany that can be a quick reaction force one hop and a couple of time zones from where we might need them. We have a massive logistical infrastructure for trans shipment of men and war material that would be sorely missed. Every_Single_One of the tens of thousands of casualties the US and our allies have suffered in the middle east has passed through Ramstein Airbase/ Landstuhl Medical Center (the only first-class American trauma center outside of the U.S.). Most of the weapons and gear that goes to the Middle East has to be flown in, and the planes stop at Ramstein to refuel and breakdown the cargo into specific destinations. Because we are tied into the European Air Defense picture via Ramstein and other sites, we will know when the Iranians or anybody else fires a nuke way sooner than if we rolled back our perimeter. Our numerous allies such as the Dutch buy Billions of Dollars worth of our gear so that they can interoperate with us. I could go on and on about the reasons for us to be in Europe. When Chairman Zero went to Germany he spoke at B-Burg to mimic JFK, but refused to visit Landstuhl because they would not let him take pictures. The Author is correct, we need to get somebody with a clue who can explain these simple things to the simpletons.

  • Torrance

    btw @ jkl it was the Germans who let us put the missiles on their soil. They would have been the first ones scorched but in spite of massive Soviet funded opposition the missiles went in and that was probably the singular event that began the defeat of the USSR.

  • Crank

    The arguments in favor of keeping bases are all well and good and might be worthy of debate for a nation with a thriving economy and a financial surplus. They are largely irrelevant to a nation facing bankruptcy in the near to mid future of we don’t get our financial house in order. We’ll just have to worry about force projection some other time if an when we have the luxury of doing so.

  • Tom

    @79: “Europe will only survive its coming confrontation with aggressive, civilization-destroying Islam through a revivified Berlin-Moscow axis. German cognitive/industrial superiority allied to Russian resources and Slavic manpower and authoritarianism. The US stands in the way of this alliance, as well as any general continent-wide return to racialist/nationalist consciousness.”

    If what you say is true, then for the sake of all humanity, we should stay in Europe.

    @Thibaud: orthodoc’s right. Europe may have given us much, but it no longer has what made it great. Sure, North Euro has many high cultural achievements–almost all of which are over a hundred years old. John Locke would not be able to get an audience in Britain these days.

    Now, I’m in favor of keeping bases in Europe for power projection purposes, but I see no reason to keep 75,000 troops there. 20,000-30,000 should be enough.

  • thibaud

    @orthodoc #78 – tee hee. Your sarcasm is withering. Really.

    I’m not sure it’s worth continuing to engage with someone who relies on comical exaggerations laced with sneers and playground taunts, but I was amused by how you completely avoided responding to the most devastating rejoinder – our deep economic interdependence – to your ridiculously overblown implication that Europe is not “strategically important to us in the here and now.”

    As to demographics, again, you can cherry-pick all you like, but when you compare fertility rates for non-hispanic Americans with non-immigrant northern Europeans, the differences vanish. Contrary to your fevered imagination, it’s hardly a black-white portrait of robust growth and fertility on one side of the Atlantic and decline on the other.

    As to the rest, Torrance #80 on forward European deployment’s benefits will correct your ignorance about one of many aspects of Europe’s importance to us.

    Re. Afghanistan, the Europeans dutifully fulfilled their mutual assistance treaty obligations to us. They did their part. To which your mature and graceful response is to sneer at and slander their war dead. Lovely. And then, to your catalogue of sneers and ranting insults, you add a ridiculous, petulant little child’s pout about not receiving any thanks.

    You’re joking, right? Have you ever spent any time in Europe? Know any real Europeans?

  • Orthodox

    Europe’s greatest threat is the same as Russia’s: militant Islam. The greatest weapon of Islam: demographics. Europe’s immigration policy and low native fertility are its greatest weaknesses. Hence, Europe’s growing move to the “far” right.

    If the U.S. leaves, the nationalists will take over and deport the Muslims, increasing Western security. Instead of fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, the West will realize it can just not let them come here. That’ll save trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

    And the U.S. is broke. It’s on a fiscally unsustainable path. The U.S. will have to abandon the Middle East wars for sure, and probably have to decide if Europe or Asia should be the focus for military assets. Given that Europe is friendly to the U.S., Asia seems like the last place to cut.

  • JE King

    I’m in my 50’s, and I’m in the 51%. Bring ’em home now, from Europe and South Korea and Iraq and Afghanistan. The Cold War is over, and we’re too overlawyered and oversensitive to fight anything but a PR war anymore, so bring ’em all home now.

  • Mark in Texas

    Let me add my voice to the chorus, Dr.Mead, in requesting that you explain “the importance of the NATO alliance and our European bases” since thibaud has so far failed to come up with much more than sentiment for days gone by and disdain for anybody who disagrees with him.

    So far, the most persuasive arguments seem to be that European bases are a convenient advanced base for military forays into the Middle East and a vital medical treatment center. It would seem that improving our air and sea transport capabilities and developing the ability to improve medical treatment in theater would go a long way towards making those bases irrelevant.

    NATO? I am really not sure what is the point any more except to serve as some sort of pointless fig leaf for US military intervention. The combined European air forces were not able to wage a successful air war against Libya without a strong American contribution. What contribution would they be able to make to their own defense against a capable and determined adversary?

    The underlying issue, though, is that European intellectuals and their political class hold America and Americans in contempt. I am not sure how widespread that attitude is with the man in the street since most of the Blue State intellectuals who create much of our media also hold Americans in contempt.

    The question remains, why should we borrow money from China and risk the blood of our citizens to defend people who hate us?

    The demographic numbers for Europe are even worse than they look at first because they are inflated by Muslim immigrants who are determinedly resisting integration into European society. How much effort should we make to save a doomed society?

  • “German cognitive/industrial superiority allied to Russian resources and Slavic manpower and authoritarianism. The US stands in the way of this alliance, as well as any general continent-wide return to racialist/nationalist consciousness.”

    Tom, if you believe that much of what Mr Haller wrote (and frankly, given what we know of present-day Germany and Russia, I see no reason not to), then I believe you’re right: For the sake of all humanity we should stay in Europe.

    And to all and sundry: As to whether Europe has become finally and irreversibly decadent, hasn’t the present American ruling generation proven its fitness to make that judgment? Hasn’t the glorious generation that fine-tuned for us (what I like to call) the Late Blue Model, culminating in the (like, awesome, man) Age of Greenspan, proven a thousand times over its worthiness to pronounce definitively on that subject?

  • Fine points. When the Libya “matter” started, I found myself looking at the number of bases in Italy – air force, naval, army. Staggering how many there are. All of them cannot be necessary, and they are not. Same for the more than one thousand bases of various sorts across the planet (or more? see There is a healthy dollop of the same problems with base closings in the US which are unrelated to security – claims of destruction of local economies.

    To that mercantilist superstition, we have an essay from the incomparable Frederic Bastiat: circa 1850.

  • thibaud

    Let’s try again. Start with the more absurd objections, the isolationist ones.

    America’s prosperity and freedom depend heavily upon a healthy and thriving global capitalist order, without which we will see shrinking demand over time for not just our products but our credit.

    An unhealthy global economy => significantly lower US economic growth => severe strains on American democracy.

    Against this obvious calculus there is the Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul/isolationist, moralistic impulse that the US is a vessel of virtue among wicked seas, that we can and should pull up the gangplanks and cruise along with no or little connection with decadent furreigners. As Buchanan put it, “we were a moral nation long before we were a rich nation.”

    Without belaboring the illogic of this view, one example of how this approach shoots us in the foot will suffice: just as European banks had significant exposure to the US credit bubble whose bursting is in part responsible for their troubles today, our own banks and corporates have significant exposure to the Eurozone’s troubles. No amount of idiocy about the gold standard will reduce this interdependency. If Europe tanks, we tank. A President Romney will face four years of misery that would easily return the Democrats to the White House in 2016.

    More intelligent critics here have tried to sever economics and finance from the security equation, as if a changing Europe will inevitably remain stable and peaceful, or that such peace would not be purchased at the price of major strategic realignments that would harm US interests in a major way.

    Even without going into why security depends on economics, it’s not hard to show why, in Europe no less than in Asia, this wish to decouple security and economics leads us astray.

    We’re now witnessing the beginnings of a collapse in the basic underpinnings of the European balance of power that’s prevailed for the last 20 years. Under that system, NATO kept the US in, economic troubles and political turmoil kept the post-soviet Russians down and out, and France and Germany had a fake marriage of equals in which France pretended to be stronger and Germany pretended to be weaker than each actually is.

    Thanks to the crisis, it is very likely that Germany’s influence in Europe will rise, sharply, in accordance with its real power.

    Equally likely are that an increasingly isolationist GOP will push for more disengagement from Europe at the same time that an economically resurgent, politically-stable Russia under Putin will push for greater influence and power in Europe.

    If the US disengages as the isolationists and Euro-bashers here wish, then Germany will almost certainly move closer to Russia – for balance, for a hedge against further collapse, for reasons of economic growth. This cooperation has already intensified in the last decade; new developments will push Germany and Russia even closer together.

    Me, I don’t know how one could view a sharp increase in Putinist Russia’s influence across Eastern and northern Europe as other than a disaster for US interests.

    If anyone here can explain how this is not so, I’m all ears. Your turn.

  • Julia

    why does the majority here suppose europeans appreciate the presence of american troops in their country? would you like to have foreign army, even if in a passive function, being station in your neighbourhood? regular streets, entire neighbourhoods closed down because an army that is not your own needs to BE protected? armed soldiers on the same streets where your children play because a couple thousands of miles away, there is a war that your country and its citizens do not want to participate in?

  • rachel

    Nato is just a way for Europe to gain a legitimacy on the world stage it does not deserve and has not earned. That 51 percent for leaving is because the poll was taken on the liberal East Coast.

    If you poll the midwest from where the soldiers come from, who have felt the nasty anti-americanism in Europe–anti Nato feeling is well over 80 percent.

    Keeping American troops spread out all over a dying Europe is just a way for Europe to dilute the power of the US military–bleeding us for money for their welfare rolls and draining our resources to slow the pace of American technology which they know they can’t keep up with.

    The US military is one the key technology innovators on the planet. It was time to leave when the wall came down.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.