Writing in the Financial Times, Philip Stevens notes President Obama’s redeployment of a combat brigade from Europe to CONUS and welcomes the move:
In the circumstances, many would say that the intelligent course for Europeans is to plead with the Americans to stay. The harsh truth, though, is that Europe needs shock treatment. As long as they are nestling comfortably under the US security umbrella, Europeans will continue to inhabit a postmodern utopia in which the only thing to do with defence spending is to cut it and the only power worth talking about is of a distinctly soft variety.
In Libya, NATO is proving not merely anachronistic but inept. At home, renewed zeal for deficit reduction has caused President Obama to call for another $400 billion in national defense cuts over a 12-year period, even as ground forces return from Iraq – and ultimately, it is to be hoped, Afghanistan – with worn out equipment that will need to be replaced.
The question is whether the European states will chip in more of their national resources to defend themselves and their interests once the Yanks come home, or whether they will simply put their heads in the sand and hope for the best. Instabilities abound: The Balkans remain a chocolate mess of seething ethnicities, illegal migrations and organized crime. Things in the Levant and Northern Africa will probably get worse before they get better. Vladimir Putin openly weeps for the loss of Soviet satellite states. And then there is the ongoing issue of non-assimilating, aggressive counter-culturals at home.
The American left yearns to emulate a European model that the Europeans themselves have finally realized is unsustainable. We’ll never get there of course – the out-year deficits and mushrooming interest on the debt virtually assure that – but we’ll slash our force projection capability along the way.
The consequences will be a world left to fend largely for itself, the opportunity for our military to play more home games, rather than away, and fairer fights, with the outcome very much in doubt. This satisfies one of the president’s campaign promises: Candidate Obama assured us that, were he to become president, not only would a war like the one we fought in Iraq not have happened, he was going to ensure that it couldn’t happen.
Hyperpower: It was good while it lasted.