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August 19, 2004

Foreign Policy Under The Radar


There are a lot of suspicious things going on right now in foreign policy. Behind the cover of the presidential race and the drama surrounding the 9/11 hearings, Bush and Co. are attempting some radical moves.

In an editorial the other day, the NYTimes took on the administration over troop redeployment. Not surprisingly, only the broadest outlines of the scheme have been provided, with the Pentagon and the White House refusing to provide more details. As we’ve been told, 60,000 to 70,000 troops are to be redeployed from Europe to the United States.

How, the Times asked, could the U.S. unilaterally pull troops off the Korean peninsula in the midst of tense nuke negotiations with N. Korea? (And how, by the way, does such a move jive with Bush’s preoccupation with “projecting strength?”) Why pull troops out of Germany to save money when the Germans help subsidize those bases? How is it more effective to shift some troops to Eastern Europe for the stated goal of protecting the Middle East and Afghanistan when Germany is actually closer to many of these hot spots? And, why return such a large number of troops to the United States when the experience of living abroad creates a more culturally sensitive, and thus more effective, armed forces?

And, that’s not all. If we can rely on Chalmers Johnson, an avowed Asia and US-Asian relations policy expert and founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, there are also extremely disturbing developments taking place between the U.S. and Japan.

In an interview with “Democracy Now”, Chalmers claims the administration is exerting serious pressure on Japan to alter their constitution and abandon their policy of neutrality. Not to overlook the fact the United States authored this policy to send a moral message to the world and rectify the scourge of a world war, Chalmers sees the United States as attempting to turn Japan into an armed client state. As part of the effort, Chalmers cites an effort underway to muscle Japan onto the U.N. Security Council securing a critical new vote for the neocon agenda.

  • Annoying Old Guy

    1) Pulling troops out of South Korea actually strengthens the hand of the USA because those troops do not of themselves add much to the defense of South Korea – they serve only as a tripwire. They can also be considered hostages to North Korea. If we remove such hostages, it gives us a greater range of possible policy. It would also serve to get the South Koreans to be more realistic about the North, which is another help.
    2) If the German subisides for our troops are significant, why are the Germans protesting the removal? Given their budget problems wouldn’t that be a feature, not a bug? Moreover, the presence of subsidies doesn’t mean it’s free. It’s been sixty years – isn’t it time to end the foreign occupation of Germany?
    3) We didn’t put that clause in the Japanese Constitution to “send a moral message” but to placate our other allies in eastern Asia, who were naturally very concerned about a re-militarized Japan.
    4) Why shouldn’t Japan be on the UN Security Council? It’s an all ways a more significant nation than France. I also doubt it’s part of a neocon plot, as the neocons are smart enough to see that the UN is trying to make the League of Nations look more relevant.

  • Bolo

    I certainly hope that Japan gets on the UN Security Council. In fact, I hope they revamp the whole thing soon, since the world order it was designed to work with has disappeared. Ideally, the UNSC should be Canada, Mexico, the EU, Russia, China, USA, Japan, Australia, India, and Brazil. And maybe a few more. Basically, it should be remade to incorporate all of the ‘friendly’ nations who play by the rules (or are at least beginning to play by them).

  • momo

    Does anyone remember way back when, like before 9/11, how tense things were with China? Planes being forced down, talks of nuclear war and so on…man,those were the days…
    You don’t hear about that shit at all anymore. I’m glad they’ve since become our good friends who play by the rules.

  • Sam Nospam

    Of course, if I correctly remember a recent interview I heard with Chalmers Johnson, he advocates pulling US troops out of most, if not all, of the worldwide bases. So pulling troops out of South Korea should be right up his alley.
    Go figure.

  • imgt

    DOD background briefing for those interested

  • M Shaw

    The DOD background link is broken. Could you post it again?

  • John E Thelin

    You mean “jibe”, not “jive”, unless Bush suddenly got funky.
    I only scold you ’cause I care.

  • Michael Shaw

    Thanks, John. Next time, it’s “jibe.”

  • phunked

    Whoa, how is Germany closer to the ME than East Europe?

  • Kimberly Greenwell

    Check out these last few interviews from the National Conference for Media Reform. It’s important to know our rights and know which angles to apply pressure from.

    Interview with Dan Gillmor from Knight Center for Digital Media:
    Dan Gillmor discusses Knight Center, how media is working in our current world, and how in these days we have to create media; not just consume it.

    Interview with Andrew Stelzer from National Radio Project:
    Andrew Stelzer discusses National Radio Project, some of the programs which have recently aired, and the community in Oakland, CA.

    Interview with Bob Kelly from NewTV:
    Bob Kelly discusses NewTV, what has changed in the past 20 years for public access programs, and bringing youth back to cable TV.

    Interview with Mike Elk from Working In These Times:
    Mike Elk discusses his feelings on the current anti-labor bills and the officials who are pushing them through, and he shares some labor stories that haven’t been covered in the media.

    Closing Plenary: Taking It Home:
    The 2011 National Conference for Media Reform concludes by connecting media and technology issues to the broader cultural shifts and the push for democratic change happening in the United States and around the world. The centerpiece of the closing plenary is a wide-ranging conversation on “Social Media and Social Change”.

    • Michael Shaw


      As a fellow progressive, I understand your enthusiasm, but why are you spamming my discussion thread? Are you working for a PR agency?

      Michael Shaw

      BagNewsNotes on Twitter! on Facebook! on Tumblr!

    • Michael Shaw


      As a fellow progressive, I understand your enthusiasm, but why are you spamming my discussion thread? Are you working for a PR agency?

      Michael Shaw

      BagNewsNotes on Twitter! on Facebook! on Tumblr!

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