May 19, 2004


The Congressional Budget Office has been examining figures on how the military should be redistributed. They have figures for all different scenarios, but the one that struck me was the most drastic one:

PLAN 3B: Eliminate nearly all forces from Germany and South Korea

Upfront cost: $6.8 billion to $7.4 billion

Annual cost compared with status quo: -$1.2 billion

CBO analysis: Large cost savings. Cuts family separation time by 22 percent. Substantial increase in deployment time to South Korea. Removal of U.S. forces might increase likelihood of war.

Why are we spending $1.2 billion to maintain bases in countries that don't appreciate us?

I think about our military spending here all the time. We pay the German government to dispose of our refuse, so I recycle every little piece of trash that I can. Our neighbors leave their porchlight on day and night, and every time I look at it I think about how our government has to pay the Germans to leave that light on. Any time someone buys gas on the economy and pays with gas vouchers, the government picks up the remainder. I absolutely hate thinking about all of the revenue we generate for Germany, since they repay us with anti-war demonstrations and anti-American rhetoric. It makes me sick.

Posted by Sarah at May 19, 2004 07:49 AM

"CBO analysis: Large cost savings ..."

What about improved morale? (Yeah, I know that can't be calculated into a budget.) You can't be the only one who's "sick" of the status quo.

Posted by: Amritas at May 19, 2004 09:27 AM

When people talk about how little we actually spend on foreign aid, they are missing out on all the things you mention which are, in a hidden and indirect way, foreign aid.

Posted by: Mike at May 19, 2004 12:42 PM


All that spending Sarah mentioned doesn't count as "foreign aid" because it's giving something for something, whereas "foreign aid" should be selfless and altruistic - i.e., giving something for nothing. One could argue that if you pay an employee for his work but don't give him other money out of pity, you are not giving him "aid." As if his salary were "nothing."

Can you guess that I don't believe in something for nothing?

Posted by: Amritas at May 19, 2004 12:58 PM

When I lived in Germany (near Kaiserslautern) in the 1980's, I also thought about it a lot. When I looked at the number of military and military support personnel who lived on the economy, along with the massive amount of money that we spent in the local economy, it just floored me when I would hear young people complain about the Americans being there.

Of course, at the time, we were prepared to stand in the way of the Russian and East German armies, knowing that our lives would be lost without doubt, but hoping that we could hold back the tide long enough for reinforcements to come in and take vengence.

Now that that particular threat 'appears' to be gone, I don't understand at all why we have anyone in Europe other than to keep maybe Ramstein and Landstuhl operating as waystations for the Middle East.

I would love to see all of our forces out of all of Europe.

Posted by: NightHawk at May 19, 2004 02:30 PM

Actually, much of what we do militarily in other countries could be counted as foreign aid. One example is a deployment I had to Jordan. We were there for a little more than a month. We bought a great deal of extra equipment before going, and left all of it there for the Jordanians. We also refueled all our vehicles and aircraft using Jordanian fuels at a much higher than normal price. And we paid a minimum fee for each refueling. I don't remember exactly, but we had to refill vehicles every two days at a minimum of 10 gallons. In two days on a small installation, the vehicles used about 3 gallons. And they kept close track of which vehicles were dues to refuel each day.

So, this was, as you say, something for something. But there was "foreign aid" built into the entire budget. In fact, the primary objective of the deployment was training for us, and the secondary objective was helping out the Jordanians without it looking like we were just giving them things. I would bet the same applies to any place where our forces are stationed.

Posted by: Mike at May 19, 2004 03:05 PM

Grrrr... I'm glad I don't have to be over there paying them to dis us. It drives me nuts when I hear the pundits worry about whether they like us or not.
I think if we pull out of there they might realize what they had, but I doubt it. An old, old saying, "you never miss the water till the well runs dry",
I would hope they would understand it. I bet their politicians understand, and would shape up very quickly if they really thought all that money was going to stay home. Again Grrrr....

Posted by: Ruth H at May 19, 2004 05:47 PM

I was in germany in the early 80's and it was exactly the same situation as it is today. Alot of people din't want us there, but they wanted the money that having us there brought them. I actually had one german girl who worked in my office tell me that she didn't like americans and wished we would leave, but that she wasn't a fool and we americans paid better than a job she could find on the "economy". That pretty much summed up the entire situation in one sentence. I don't know if it was true or just her personal opinion, but I know at that point, my thought was we should just go and they could deal with the east germans, russians or whatever, on their own. A totally emotional response on my part.

To be equally fair though I met alot of older germans who liked americans and who wanted us there. It seems however that the opinion of one person disliking us and making me feel used as an american out weighed the response of the other germans who did like us. Maybe it was the daily contact that was the major factor.

The question now has to be whether or not it is in our national interest at this point to retain a large military presence in Europe. I think a scale back is definitely in order.

Posted by: Shar at May 19, 2004 06:32 PM


I have no qualms whatsoever with the policy that you outlined. But this line of yours (emphasis mine) -

"the primary objective of the deployment was training for us"

- reveals why people will never consider this "foreign aid." It's (gasp) SELFISH! It puts America first! Hence it's not really altruistic.

In fact, if one can't take off one's anti-American glasses, even foreign aid for foreign aid's sake is not really "aid" since America can always be accused of "buying off" other countries, of having *secondary* objectives, etc., ad nauseam ...

I say America should do what it must and ignore the naysayers. They'll never stop whining no matter what the US does. Such is the pathetic nature of Amerikahass.

Posted by: Amritas at May 19, 2004 08:42 PM

I understand those who don't like foreign troops on their soil; we Americans would have a fit if this was allowed here. The difference lies, however, in our insistence on protecting ourselves and our national interests and spending whatever is needed to do so. Self-reliance, it seems, is becoming a uniquely American quality.

I have heard, however, that the mayors of the German towns near where our bases are located panic at the mere mention of troop realignment. After the last few years of anti-Americanism, this just makes me laugh.

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