This American troop withdrawal marks a new era

Share
Related Topics

President Bush's announcement that the US armed forces will be reconfigured to bring home as many as 70,000 servicemen and women and 100,000 civilians over the next 10 years was presented as evidence that he would honour his undertaking to make the military leaner and fitter, "more agile and flexible", to meet 21st-century needs. In fact, it was far more significant than this.

President Bush's announcement that the US armed forces will be reconfigured to bring home as many as 70,000 servicemen and women and 100,000 civilians over the next 10 years was presented as evidence that he would honour his undertaking to make the military leaner and fitter, "more agile and flexible", to meet 21st-century needs. In fact, it was far more significant than this.

In the short term, it showed how much trouble Mr Bush's re-election campaign is in over Iraq, even in the hitherto safe Republican constituency of the military. It is well known that recruitment and re-enlistment rates are dropping in the light of the risks faced by US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The pledge that troops would in future serve more time at home - a pledge, it should be noted, that he chose to take credit for himself rather than delegate to the Defence Secretary or top brass - was designed to stabilise morale, even though it implies no immediate change in the number of those deployed in Iraq.

In the longer term, Mr Bush's announcement - as it was fleshed out by the White House in advance - amounts to the largest realignment of US military strength since the end of the Cold War. It deserves to be noticed for this reason alone. Almost half of all US troops stationed abroad (outside Iraq and Afghanistan) will be affected, and a large proportion of these are in Europe.

Mr Bush gave no details of the changes. It is not yet known how many US bases will be shut and how many transferred. The bulk of those closed or contracted, however, are expected to be in Germany, with new operational centres established in the new EU states and former Soviet republics which are supplying facilities and manpower for the US in Iraq. Mr Bush said he saw an opportunity to "strengthen alliances and build new partnerships".

The question is what message these moves will send. The commitment to Germany has long been equated with a continuing US commitment to Europe and to the transatlantic alliance. To close bases in Germany and establish a more permanent presence in, say, Uzbekistan, would mark the end of an era; perhaps the decline of a commitment as well.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Reeyot Alemu (L) and Eskinder Nega (R)  

Voices in Danger: Ethiopian journalists are fleeing from prosecution while others languish in prison

Anne Mortensen
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?