Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The United States Should Not Recall Troops From Germany and South Korea

Why you're right:

1. Recalling troops puts them farther away from where they are most needed. For the foreseeable future, it is far more likely that troops will be needed in the Middle East than in Canada. As long as that remains the case, it doesn't make sense to shift U.S. troops from Germany to Kansas. (Washington Post)

2. It will cost a lot of money. Taxpayers will need to finance the expansion of U.S. military bases to accommodate the influx of troops. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that relocating 60 to 70 thousand troops will cost upwards of $7 billion. The military will also likely forfeit over $1 billion in subsidies it receives from countries that host U.S. troops. (German Embassy; CBO)

3. It rewards North Korea for bad behavior. Pyongyang has been demanding that the U.S. withdraw from the Korean peninsula for years. The U.S. could have negotiated significant concessions in return for a partial withdrawal. Instead, it sends the unfortunate signal to North Korea that their hard-line tactics – including the aggressive pursuit of a nuclear weapon – are working. (LA Times)

Why they're wrong:

1. This is really about payback for Germany. Over a year ago if was reported that the Pentagon – upset at Germany for failing to support U.S. operations in Iraq – was considering the move as a punishment for Germany. (Guardian)

2. It doesn't help the situation in Iraq. The real problem is that our military is overstretched. We have already sent divisions stationed in Germany (1st Armored and 1st Infantry) to Iraq so simply moving their home base to the U.S. doesn't help matters. (New York Times)

3. We have already accounted for post-Cold War realities. In the 1990s over 200,000 troops were moved out of Europe.