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US troops are no 'favor' to Europe

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How can I put this delicately? I will try:

The presence of the US military is not popular in Europe.

I was thus rather surprised to read in John's earlier post that the Washington Post is claiming that the planned reduction in the number of US troops in Europe is worrying Europeans. Here's what the Post had to say:

The reductions in Army forces, which have not been formally announced, are likely to concern European officials, who worry that the smaller American presence reflects a waning of interest in the decades-long U.S.-NATO partnership in Europe.
So what we have here is merely an assumption the reporter could easily have checked but didn't bother to. Presumably because he was sure it must be true. There must be a word for such behavior but it isn't 'reporting'.

I am pretty close to the British establishment. I was born into it after all. I know plenty of senior Tories and I have never met a single one express the opinion that the UK is in need of charitable assistance from the US.

The US established permanent military bases in Europe after World War II because they wanted to. The bases were created to serve the interests of the US and not those of Europe. By mutual consent, the US, Britain and the USSR had agreed on Germany as host for World War III and Germany was in no position to refuse.

The long term presence of large numbers of foreign troops is almost never popular. Why would anyone imagine it would be? US troops in particular have a reputation for engaging in obnoxious behavior knowing that their commanding officers will have little interest in disciplining them. 

Imagine for the sake of argument that Mexico suggested putting 10,000 troops on US soil. Would you expect US politicians to be enthusiastic about the prospect of a boost to the local economies or express satisfaction that they will help defend the US from Canada?

The US military is popular in the US in a way that the British military is not in the UK. This probably has something to do with the fact that the UK is no longer the hegemon it was in the 1910s when they used to hold the Empire days. To a large degree the US military is exempt from criticism. UK generals and admirals play absolutely no part in political debate whatsoever. A UK military officer would be cashiered for attempting any type of political lobbying, let alone the sort that Colin Powell engaged in to block gays in the military.

Knowing this, Europeans are not likely to start a conversation with a random American by telling them what we really think of the US military any more than an American is likely to tell jokes about the Royal family. This doesn't mean that Europeans believe the military to be the finest in the world and a force for compromised good. It certainly does not mean that we worry about Putin's tanks rolling across the Danube the minute Uncle Sam packs up and goes home.

So please, for your own sakes, cut the damn US military budget. Even if the US could afford to spend as much on militarism as the rest of the planet put together, it is just not healthy to do so.

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