Monday, August 16, 2004

Honey, I Shrunk the Empire!

Iraqi resistance to the occupation is clearly taking a toll:
President Bush on Monday announced plans to bring home up to 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia within a decade. . . .

At the Pentagon, defense officials said a "significant portion" of the 60,000 to 70,000 troops and 100,000 family members and civilian personnel in question would come out of Europe, including about 30,000 troops in two heavy divisions in Germany.

They said moves would not begin until at least 2006 after decisions are made on new domestic base closings, and that a brigade of Army Stryker armored vehicles with 5,000 troops would be deployed to Germany as part of the U.S. shift away from ponderous forces toward mobility.

The United States now has about 115,000 troops stationed in Europe and another 97,000 in the Asia-Pacific region. A senior State Department official said troop reductions in Asia would be "not very dramatic" but gave no details. (Adam Entous, "U.S. to Remove Up to 70,000 Troops from Europe, Asia," August 16, 2004)
Observe the Democrats' reaction to the announcement:
Advisers to Democratic presidential rival John Kerry warned the plan could make America more vulnerable. . . .

"As we face a global war on terror with al Qaeda active in more than 60 countries, now is not the time to pull back our forces," asserted [Gen. Wesley] Clark, a former supreme commander of all NATO forces in Europe. (Entous, August 16, 2004)
Essentially, Washington has three choices, all of which are unattractive to the power elite: end the US occupation of Iraq, withdraw US troops from Europe and East Asia to deploy them in the Middle East and Central Asia, or resort to conscription. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are ready to evacuate US troops from Iraq yet, unless allied governments contribute more troops, which is unlikely. The Republicans, who lack working-class support to resume the draft, are losing parts of the empire in order to hold onto Iraq. The Democrats, as well as the ruling class, are exasperated by what they think of as the Bush Team 's incompetent imperialism, but they will have no choice but to take a highly unpopular measure of reinstating the draft if they are to continue the occupation of Iraq while maintaining Washington's spheres of influence in Europe and Asia at the same time. That will prove, in the end, an even more destructive and self-destructive course of action than the Bush administration's.

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