Friday, March 02, 2007

The Indispensable Nation

Michael Barone reminds us that there are lots of people that thinks US troops are not deployed to enough nations in the world - or at least, that they're not deployed to the right nations. But the US military is limited, and our allies refuse to build the sort of muscular military needed to do the job:

In the Los Angeles Times, Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations makes a point I have long wanted to make. But he has done what I haven't bothered to do, which is to gather the numbers that make the case.

The point is this: There aren't that many military troops in the world to provide much help to the United States when we choose to take military action. All through the Iraq conflict, Democrats and the mainstream media have been bemoaning the fact that American troops are bearing most of the burden. We should get our allies to help, they say–ignoring that something like 32 other nations have sent troops to Iraq. The problem is that they don't have all that many troops to send. Any large military operation is inevitably going to be mostly American. Citizens questioned in public opinion polls can perhaps be forgiven for assuming that there's all kinds of help we can get out there if we only say pretty please and in something other than a Texas accent.

But serious public officials and serious people in mainstream media should know better.

And if they think that the relative paucity of available foreign troops is a problem, they should direct their complaints to those who can do something about it and call on our NATO allies to increase their military budgets.

What's the effect of this? First and foremost, it encourages more unwelcome actions by rogue states like Iran and North Korea, who recognize that the world's only policeman can only be in so many neighborhoods.

Second, it probably makes things like 'surgical strikes' more likely in places such as Iran, since the US recognizes the difficulty of a major ground operation. It also puts more influence in the hands of regional powers, who recognize that Washington (and London, and Berlin) are further away than ever.

1 comment:

Europe said...

How am I supposed to have an Army? I have universal health care!