Charles Krauthammer

     This invitation to suicide might have made sense when South Korea was weak, impoverished and war-ravaged. Today it is an industrialized tiger with a large and superbly equipped army. It makes far more sense to redeploy these troops to where they are really needed -- to support weak, impoverished and war-ravaged countries in the Middle East front whose governments cannot yet carry the burden of their own defense.

     John Kerry claims that withdrawing troops will send ``the wrong signal'' in a confrontation with North Korea over its nuclear weapons. Where was he when the Clinton administration sent a signal of abject surrender to the North Koreans by offering two shiny new nuclear reactors, oil shipments and all kinds of diplomatic goodies in return for a paper promise to freeze their nuclear program -- which they now brazenly and proudly claim to have broken long ago?

     It is long past time that we readjusted our defensive lines overseas to reflect the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. still has 1,700 military personnel in Iceland. From whom exactly are we protecting Iceland? Or are we there to keep an eye on al Qaeda cells in Greenland?

     Democrats accuse the administration of politicizing the redeployment by bringing it up as a campaign issue. This truly is precious. The Democrats turned their convention into a four-day teach-in celebrating the Swift boats of the Mekong River circa 1968 -- and then question the legitimacy of raising as a campaign issue for the consideration of the nation the most significant redeployment of American troops abroad since the Korean War.

     The president would have been culpable had he not brought it up. Not only is there an obvious policy difference between the two parties, but a president should  put it on the table if he is to earn the mandate to carry out so radical a plan after the election.  

     The New York Times editorial page offered this reason for maintaining the status quo: Otherwise, ``the military will also lose the advantage that comes with giving large numbers of its men and women the experience of living in other cultures.'' Seventy-thousand GIs parked in Stuttgart practicing their German and listening to Wagner. Finally a military deployment The New York Times can support.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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