The World's Policeman Goes on Coffee Break

By Peter Huessy

Many of America's leaders have decided it is better for their country to retreat from the world, "hope for the best" and let "them over there" decide their own fate - and ours.

America, we are told, wants to build bridges here at home, not in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq.

And, these "experts" say, to the extent we are involved in the world, it should be reluctantly and with a light footprint.

That view appears to be the growing consensus of national security and foreign policy experts, even Republicans, as the United States wrestles with the war in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria, terrorist attacks seemingly everywhere, a declining defense budget, and a cumulative weariness from being continuously at war since the attacks of 9/11.

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Unquestioned appears to be whether a "reluctant" security stance protects American security and keeps us safe; assures our well-being and economic prosperity; and supports our values.

Is it really true that there is little value in U.S engagement in the world and our enforcement of the rule of international law?

Many analysts would be quick to complain that the U.S. liberation of Iraq was against the rule of law, what is often described as a "war of choice" rather than necessity. One former top newscaster complained that Abu Ghraib, the presence of Gitmo and "waterboarding" had so stained America's reputation that we needed, as a kind of "penance," to withdraw from the world.

What does history say?

After World War II we literally disarmed, reducing our military far beyond what was warranted. Most people did not anticipate the advent of the Cold War. So defense was not a priority.

Many Congressional Republicans therefore opposed the 1950 Truman defense budget of $11 billion [compared to $94 billion at the peak of World War II]. They proposed to cut it to $7 billion: a 44% cut. A proposal to send assistance to the Republic of Korea was also turned down by Congress.

The administration also did not help matters. It said that North Korea would not invade the South Korea because it did not have such a capability without massive assistance from Soviet forces. It further cited a 1950 intelligence report that said North Korea could get such a capability but not before 1955.

But on June 25th, 1950, Pyongyang and its Soviet masters ordered the invasion of the South. After three years, millions lay dead, 35,000 American soldiers included, as a totally unprepared United States stepped into the breach and saved what are now 49 million free Koreans in the Republic of that name.

What did the Russians learn from this? Do not mount cross-border invasions, even against a relatively weak ally of the United States. Use guerrilla war and fraudulent "national liberation fronts" to mask your aggression and stealth invasion.

Less than a year after the July 27th, 1953 armistice ended the war on the Korean peninsula, weapons from the Soviet and Chinese communist coalitions empire next went to Vietnam, where guerrilla tactics were used to defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.

Also after the Korean war, the United States adopted a policy of massive nuclear retaliation as its prime means of deterrence and defense. Consequently, our military spending fell from $43 billion to $36 billion to reflect the end of the war; then by 1960, it gradually increased to $41 billion: a 10% increase from after the Korean war.

We were again unprepared as an aggressive Soviet Union and China funded guerrilla wars in South Vietnam and in such places as El Salvador, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere.

For the next seven years after Vietnam -- a victory we threw away in 1974 by defunding our Vietnamese allies -- nearly twenty nations either fell into the Communist orbit or to other totalitarian rulers, such as Iran.

The highest ranking defector from North Korea. Hwang Jang-Yop, told an American general officer in a rare 2001 interview that the objective of Pyongyang was to drive US military forces from the peninsula and then use its nuclear weapons capability to "hold American cities at risk, to prevent the US from returning to aid Seoul".

Sequestration, recognized by many as foolish, is again creating calls on both the left and right to remove U.S. military forces from overseas, including the Republic of Korea. The Chinese recently called for the U.S. to remove some of its troops from the region, to stop provoking Pyongyang. China's Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun on April 16 "slammed " U.S. plans to pivot toward Asia, according to Iran's PressTV.

Actions have consequences; major actions can have major consequences.

As the U.S. contemplates how long a coffee break to take, our fellow police officers around the international neighborhood may take this pause the wrong way: they may accommodate the adversaries of the free world and "hope for the best." This movie, which we have seen before, does not end well.

Peter Huessy is the founder and president of the defense consulting firm GeoStrategic Analysis. Reprinted with permission from the Gatestone Institute.

(AP Photo)

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