It seems all great nations and empires tend to overextend themselves militarily which along with financial excesses starts their decline. Some nations and empires forestall their decline by realizing their limitations on their projection of power and reign in their ambitions for foreign adventures regardless of their intent for good or ill.. One such example was the reign of the emperor Hadrian (117-138AD) at the height of the Roman Empire’s power. One of his very first decisions as emperor was the abandonment of the eastern territories which his immediate predecessor the emperor Trajan had just conquered a short time before his death.
Hadrian knew the wisdom of Rome’s first emperor Augustus’s advice that he had given to his successors a century earlier. This wise advice was that the empire’s borders should be kept within the natural boundaries of Rhine, Danube and Euphrates rivers. His processor Trajan had disregarded this advice that kept the empire relatively at peace from foreign incursions for over a century. This was costly in terms of keeping a high militarily presence in Dacia & Parthia as well depleting its legions and treasure. On Hadrian’s orders the roman’s eastern legions pulled back to behind these former reasonable and defensible borders. He later fortified the frontiers of the roman empire with the most famous frontier barrier named after him in Britain ( “Hadrian’s Wall”). His policy of not foolishly expanding the empirebrought stability to Rome’s frontiers for another 50 years.
The United States (As of 2005) has stationed 289,000 of its 1.3 million active-duty servicemen and servicewomen abroad. The greatest foreign deployment other than Iraq & Afghanistan is Germany at 57,000 military personal followed by ,Japan at 33,000, Korea at 27,100, to round out the top areas. Currently the United States has a military presence in 152 countries. I doubt the average American citizen at the end of 1945 would have guessed that their country would still have a major militarypresence in Germany and Japan more than six decades after the guns of the second world war feel silent and our enemies defeated. I understood and was a strong supporter of American military power during the long cold war since our nemesis the former Soviet Union was expansionist with its cancerous ideology of communism. America had to protect the democratic republics of Europe and it was in our direct national interest to do. At the beginning of the 21st century it is time to pull back from our past “cold-war” frontiers.
In the past few years working for a German based corporation I have had the pleasure of visiting Germany for business multiple times. I find the German people friendly, hard working and hold them in high esteem for having accomplished the difficult process of reunification. One question that I have posed to the average German that’s difficult for them or even myself to answer is; why after 22 years since the Berlin Wall has fallen and Eastern Europe freed from the dominance of the former Soviet Union does the US still have a large military presence in Europe? The great standing armies of the Warsaw Pact poised at the eastern frontier are now just a memory. Europe itself has changed they have built up their economic ties via the European Union (EU) and even in this “Great Recession” is a strong economic competitor to the US.
America in the same period has changed also. It is no longer the economic engine of the world. We find ourselves currently mired in morass of enormous debt that took a half a century toaccumulate and both political parties with the exception of the newly elected tea party members unwilling to come to grips with. We find ourselves now involved in 3 wars in the middle east. Our NATO Partners who we defended during the many years of the cold war have for the most part (With the exception of the UK and a scant few others) have abandoned us in Afghanistan. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union NATO has been an alliance in search of a mission. In the 1990s America took the lead in the Balkans after the after the Europeans waffled and begged for our intervention. This was a totally European concern in their backyard. NATO was set up as an alliance for protection of its members in case of attack. No NATO Member was threatened by essentially a war of succession in a non member state. Now again in the current Libyan “civil war” NATO is intervening in a non member state in a mist of a civil war. This conflict is not even in Europe and does not involve American interests. Another issue is that military spending by NATO members has been cut back dramatically even while the commitment by the US to NATO in some ways has grown. Don’t you think it’s about time that the US redefines its role in the alliance or even dissolving it altogether?
America must reevaluate all its foreign commitments. In a time of deep financial crisis and a hidden war on our southern border we must pull back from being the policeman of the world. The members of the EU must “grow up” and be responsibility to carry the burden of their self defense. America must choose to be a republic or pursue an empire of ever increasing foreign entanglements which will drain its treasury and our lead to the death young soldiers. America must indeed remain militarily strong but only use its military to protect our freedom, sovereignty and vital interests only.
–Just My Opinion- D.B.