"War Mongering" Bush reportedly to pull All 10,000 U.S. ground troops from Bosnia, Kosovogreenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
Bush to pull US troops out of Balkans
Tom Rhodes, New York IN A MOVE certain to upset his European allies, George W Bush plans to begin withdrawing American peacekeepers from the Balkans shortly after he moves into the White House next month.
Senior advisers to the Republican president-elect have told The Sunday Times that America will have removed all 10,000 of its ground troops from Bosnia and Kosovo within four years, leaving only logistical and intelligence teams behind.
John Hulsman, a conservative analyst tapped as a Balkans adviser for the new administration, said Bush was concerned about "imperial overstretch" - a buzzword within the new national security team for America's involvement in "nation building" abroad during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
"There will be a philosophical sea change when Bush is in the White House," Hulsman said. "As soon as he arrives, there will be a drawing down of American forces and after four years there will be no American ground troops in the Balkans."
Hulsman, who works at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, advised the president-elect on Balkans policy during his campaign for the White House. He said there was growing scepticism inside the Bush camp about humanitarian missions that were not in the American national interest.
Richard Perle, a former assistant defence secretary under President Ronald Reagan and an even more senior adviser to Bush, said questions were being asked about America's true role in the region.
Perle said incoming members of the national security team, including Condoleezza Rice, General Colin Powell, the next secretary of state, and Donald Rumsfeld, appointed last week as defence secretary, were unhappy with some of the tasks being given to fighting troops in the field.
Some in the 82nd Airborne, the crack parachute division, for example, had been acting as kindergarten escorts and social workers. "I think they will look at what the soldiers are spending their time doing and whether that is appropriate for American troops," he said.
Perle insisted any pullout would not take place without consultation with allies. He speculated that German forces might shoulder the brunt of future regional responsibilities.
The first hint of a withdrawal came in October, shortly before the American election, when Rice spoke of a "new division of labour" in the Balkans, requiring Europeans to "step up to their responsibilities".
Lord Robertson, the Nato secretary-general, telephoned the Bush camp shortly afterwards and said he had been assured by the Republican's advisers that no such move was afoot.
Powell said after his nomination earlier this month, however, that he would undertake a review of all deployments soon after Bush's inauguration on January 20.
"We're going to consult to see if we can find ways that are less of a burden," he said of the missions in Kosovo and Bosnia. "We're not cutting and running."
For all the talk of consultation and reviews, plans are already being drafted to begin part of the withdrawal shortly after Bush enters the White House.
Hulsman said the first of the 5,500 troops in Kosovo and 4,500 in Bosnia could be brought home within months in what would be a symbolic change of policy in Washington.
Under one proposal, the new administration would inform Nato at the end of next month that its eventual goal was to turn over entire responsibility for peacekeeping troops to its European allies. America would agree to provide continued but limited logistical and intelligence assistance to the Nato mission in the Balkans.
The proposal can only add to fears among allies already anxious about the implications of a Bush presidency for European security. Concerns centre on the president-elect's determination to build a "son of star wars" missile defence system.
Bush has said he wants a system that would include America's allies. Britain and other countries are worried it could have a destabilising effect by violating the 1972 US-Soviet anti-ballistic missile treaty, under which both sides agreed limits to defensive shields.
Bush's resolve to press ahead with the project has been confirmed by the appointment of Rumsfeld, who oversaw a commission two years ago that concluded that rogue nations could threaten America with ballistic missiles sooner than analysts predicted.
The Foreign Office yesterday declined to comment on any likely changes in American Balkan policy. One British diplomat in the region warned, however, that even if Bush wanted a significant drawdown of troops it would be difficult to win the approval of his Nato partners. "We've always thought the American role is essential," he said.
In France opinion on American involvement has always been more divided, with many military officers opposed to Washington's dominant influence in peacekeeping. "There's always been strong resistance to Americans in the Nato command," said one diplomat. "But the irony is that our officers don't want to do peacekeeping on their own in the Balkans, especially after the disasters with the UN in Bosnia."
Both diplomats agreed that any likely downsizing would first come in Bosnia, where Nato is debating changing the current stabilisation force, or SFor, into DFor, or deterrence force. One solution proposed by Jacques Klein, the American head of the UN in Bosnia, is to diminish Washington's role in the military side of reconstruction in the Balkans, while enhancing its role in civilian structures.
Bush's plans have also prompted concern within the White House. American forces stationed in the Balkans have already been depleted since 25,000 were sent to bolster the Dayton peace accord for Bosnia in 1995. The outgoing Clinton administration warned last week any further withdrawals could undermine relations between America and its European allies, such as Britain.
Jake Siewert, the White House press secretary, said the decision made by officials during Bush's father's presidency not to intervene in the Balkans had allowed Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader, to begin the conflict.
"When they said, 'We don't have a dog in that fight,' it was a green light for Milosevic," he said. "Now it looks like Bush's son is planning to do the same."
"War Mongering" Bush reportedly to pull All 10,000 U.S. ground troops from Bosnia, Kosovo
-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), January 02, 2001
Clinton has been so lucky that there was not a major loss of American life during this "peacekeeping".
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 02, 2001.
-- Bush Gets Briefed by Real Prez (email@example.com), January 02, 2001.
Aint, it looks like we got a 2 for one here. Bush is doing the right thing, and you pissed off a "world citizen". :-)
-- KoFE (your@town.USA), January 02, 2001.
Clinton treated the military like a bunch of social workers.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 03, 2001.