The US currently supplies 14,000 of the 16,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan trying to shore up the government and rid the nation of Taliban, al Qaeda, and Daesh terrorists. President Donald Trump is thinking about cutting our contingent in half over the coming year. Trump’s rationale is that we shouldn’t continue to be the world’s policeman—unless and until other nations start picking up some of the costs of that role (or, in Trump’s terms, pay us something).
I disagree with Trump on the world’s cop bit; there is a great deal of national security flowing from our being the cop on the beat rather than one or more of our enemies (as Russia already is demonstrating in Europe, the People’s Republic of China throughout Asia and associated Seas, Iran in the Middle East), regardless of the cost, even if all of that is borne by us.
Germany’s hypocrisy is instructive. As is Deutsche Welle‘s careful omission of that “unless and until” continuation of Trump’s statement on being world policeman.
Germany has a contingent in Afghanistan, too—in a support role. It’s a highly useful support role, but Germany demands its soldiers—soldiers!—be protected from risk by our soldiers. Consequently, if we reduce our presence, Germany may well withdraw altogether.
Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee, expressed his concern at the development on Thursday. The US was “irreplaceable” as power for maintaining world order, he told public broadcaster ARD.
By withdrawing from this role, the US would make the world “less safe, more unstable, and more egotistical,” he added, before dismissing the term “world policeman” as outdated. “This is much more about world order, stability, balance, and diplomacy[.]”
Yet Germany declined to play any serious role in an order and stability exercise in Iraq. Germany demands to play only that minor role in the order and stability exercise in Afghanistan. Germany and most of the rest of European NATO, for decades, has been freeloading off American weal and soldiers for protection from Russia, not even keeping their own voluntarily entered into promise to commit 2% of their national GDPs to supporting NATO with soldiers and equipment—until publicly shamed into it over the last couple of years. And even now, the majority of those nations continue to refuse even to try to honor their word.
The US [is] “irreplaceable” as power for maintaining world order[.]
But expose their troops to actual danger, even only in support? Nah—you Americans do that. We’ll hold your coats.
This Sallah-ian attitude—this timidity—makes it difficult, indeed, to sell the need for us to continue as world policeman (because I choose not to hide behind Röttgen’s meekly wordy euphemism) to our domestic audience—the very folks who are abandoned left to pay the cost in blood and treasure.