Prior to the rise of the American Warfare State during the Second World War, the American tradition was to radically demobilize after hostilities ended. Even subsequent to our misbegotten intervention in the Great War of 1914-1918, the three million men called to arms by Wilson were reduced to less than 50,000 within a few years of the armistice. Yet so forgotten is that wise tradition of demobilization that the underlying slogan---fear of a standing army----is as foreign to the contemporary ear as is Chaucer's english.
When the needlessly prolonged and unnecessarily friction-filled Cold War ended in 1991, there occurred an historic opportunity to reclaim the non-interventionist wisdom of America's republican fathers and dismantle the nation's vast and costly war machine---and most especially it far-flung system of military bases and alliances.
Why did we need 40,000 troops in South Korea after the Soviet Union vanished? After all, Mr. Deng was just then discovering the wonders of a pegged currency and the bonanza of exporting to America. Was this vestige of the Cold War supposed to be an advance guard to stop the capitalist-line chi-coms from invading California?
Most especially, the chance had come to unwind NATO, nullify the treaties and dismantle its vast force structure. Indeed, had George Bush the elder had the facility for drama later shown by his son, he could have parachuted into NATO's Geilenkirchen Air Base (he parachuted until he was 80)) and declared, "Mission Accomplished!"
Sadly, the Republican party by then had been fatally afflicted with the neo-con disease and was on the prowl for cheap triumphalist projects anywhere on the planet that needed trousers, ballot boxes and Coca-Cola. Likewise, bi-partisan Washington was a sitting duck for the vast military-industrial complex that had sunk deep roots during the Cold War into both the American economy and the beltway machinery of elections and governance. Indeed, the great Dwight Eisenhower had fretted about this lamentable condition until his final days in office when his issued his famous warning.
And so defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, and the vast fiscal burdens of the Warfare State were seconded to another generation of taxpayers (and several yet to be born). Unaccountably, the boundary lines within the Korean peninsula were not left to the Koreans to sort out---as President's from Washington, to Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, Cleveland and Hoover would have insisted upon.
And NATO didn't shrink; it literally exploded, filling the empty space in eastern Europe like so much hot air rushing into a vacuum. Within 15 years of "peace" breaking out after the reign of the Soviet commissars succumbed to the economic toxins of their own socialist cooking, a latter-day anti-Soviet alliance was fixing to land on the very door-step---the Ukraine and Georgia---of the vastly shrunken Russian successor to an empire that had perished 15 years earlier.
In the interim, utter foolishness had been unleashed. What juvenile minds concluded that the peace and security of America's shorelines required a military alliance with the likes of Albania, Bulgaria, Rumania, Slovakia and Slovenia? What crackpots foisted on us defense treaties with the eight million strong of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania?
In short, the whole two-decade long bi-partisan project of NATO expansion was not simply misbegotten and a colossal waste of fiscal resources that the welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic could ill-afford. In truth, it was a wanton, continuous, rolling act of aggression. Who else but the Vodka-riven, fertility-barren, oligarch-ridden corpus of Russian could this 28-nation make-pretend military alliance have been directed against. Chechnya's separatists?
In today's Washington Post, former Reagan ambassador Jack Matlock takes the wood to all four of the Gipper's successors---the Bush's, Clinton and the peace candidate from Saul Alinsky's training camps, too:
Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist.... the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser....President Bill Clinton supported NATO’s bombing of Serbia without U.N. Security Council approval and the expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact countries. Those moves seemed to violate the understanding that the United States would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat from Eastern Europe.
Vladimir Putin was elected in 2000 and initially followed a pro-Western orientation. When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, he was the first foreign leader to call and offer support. He cooperated with the United States when it invaded Afghanistan, and he voluntarily removed Russian bases from Cuba and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.
Then he pulls no punches, pinning the blame for our current asinine confrontation with Putin exactly where it belongs:
What did he get in return? Some meaningless praise from President George W. Bush, who then delivered the diplomatic equivalent of swift kicks to the groin: further expansion of NATO in the Baltics and the Balkans, and plans for American bases there; withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; invasion of Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval; overt participation in the “color revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; and then, probing some of the firmest red lines any Russian leader would draw, talk of taking Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Americans, heritors of the Monroe Doctrine, should have understood that Russia would be hypersensitive to foreign-dominated military alliances approaching or touching its borders.
There is much more here. Its a must read. Hopefully, even our feckless President will get around to reading it this weekend before he does something truly stupid.