More likely, the Kerry critique, delivered on Wednesday to a cool response before the same VFW audience, was simply the same blind, knee-jerk opposition that the Democrats have had for every Bush administration initiative. And therein lies the shame, for what the president has proposed makes imminently good sense given the realities of a New World disorder.
Despite Kerry campaign assertions that the Bush redeployment plan is some kind of "August Surprise," it is in fact the culmination of more than three years of work by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon planners. And -- again contrary to allegations from prominent Democrats -- it is supported by both NATO and South Korean leaders.
They know, if Kerry & Co. do not, that there is no longer a need for 100,000 U.S. military personnel to protect the democracies of Europe. Western Europeans are no longer threatened by legions of Soviets and their satellite soldiers staring at them across the Fulda Gap. The major threat that the Europeans now face is the same enemy that places us at risk: radical Islamic Jihadism.
The president's plan to "thin out" our forces overseas assures that our military is more capable of contending with that threat. In Germany, 30,000 troops trained and equipped to fight a European ground war will be replaced by a brigade of 5,000 equipped with Stryker armored vehicles. This more mobile force will be able to deploy quickly and fight anywhere -- rather than lying in wait in the German countryside for a communist enemy we defeated years ago.
In a conference call coordinated by the Democratic National Committee, Wesley Clark, who should know better, claimed that "this redeployment will do nothing to ease the strain on our overstretched military forces." He's simply wrong. The president's plan is part of a major overhaul of the Army, which will add 10 new mobile combat brigades -- without increasing end strength. Those new brigades will ensure that the men and women fighting the Global War on Terror -- a war that is going to last for a long time no matter who wins this November -- won't have to deploy as often as they do today.
If Kerry and his colleagues truly care about the welfare of the U.S. military, they should applaud President Bush's plan to bring the troops home. Instead, it seems that they are more concerned about appeasing America's most vociferous European critics.
Shortly after the president's announcement, former U.N. ambassador and Kerry advisor Richard Holbrooke claimed that, "A withdrawal weakens the NATO alliance and will inevitably lead to less cooperation with our closest allies."
It sounds like the Kerry camp is less concerned about U.S. national security than about the anxieties of Peter Lang, the mayor of Baumholder in southern Germany, who said that without U.S. troops contributing to the local economy, the town "would bleed to death."
Let's hear the Democrats spin that to the people of an American town that has had a congressionally imposed base closure. It could be as interesting as one of Kerry's Vietnam war stories.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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