Europe criticizes US for withdrawing troops from West Africa

Africa

Europe, particularly France, is criticizing the United States for its plans to withdraw some or perhaps all of its 6,000 to 7,000 troops from West Africa.  The U.S. is doing this as part of an effort to shift its military assets around the world to re-orienting them to better face possible challenges by the Great Powers, especially China.  In doing so, defense secretary Mark Esper and his team question the value of the efforts in West Africa and want to scale them back, as those African militants lack the ability and intent to attack the U.S. homeland. 

The same cannot be said of France.  Islamic terrorism in West Africa is centered in former French colonies.  The French worry that if the militants aren’t countered in Africa, they could spread murder and mayhem to France itself.  And then there’s the immigration concern.  If backward countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania become failed states, a surge of African refugees could be bound for France and then throughout Europe. 

For those reasons, France currently has about 4,500 troops fighting in West Africa.  The French fear that the U.S. withdrawal will leave them exposed.  An aide to France’s President Emmanuel Macron is quoted in the news agency Agence France-Presse as saying, “American contribution to fight against Islamic extremist groups in West Africa were irreplaceable [emphasis mine].”  No doubt.  For among other things, the French rely on U.S. intelligence, logistical support, and aerial refueling at a cost to the U.S. of about $45 million a year.

Obviously, France, and by extension Europe, has a dog in this fight.  America does not.  Interestingly, although it is in their interest, no other European country, aside from France, has seen fit to place any of its troops on the line in West Africa.  Yet wealthy Western Europe seems to expect the U.S. to spend its resources and fight in an area where there’s no direct American interest at stake while at the same time adamantly refusing to pay anything close to a fair share for NATO. 

There are three other points need to be made to put this situation in context.  First, under President Donald Trump, the U.S. is actively addressing the number-one terrorist country in the world: Iran. In this effort, Europe is not just standing on the sideline, but has been actively trying to thwart American efforts by working around U.S. sanctions and giving moral support to the mullahs. 

Second, the fact that the U.S. is re-orienting its military to address communist China does not faze the Europeans in the slightest.  If push came to shove with the Chinese, would Europe then be there in any meaningful way to help defend the values of liberal democracy?  

Finally, there’s trade.  Europe holds fast to the antiquated and unfair trade agreements with the U.S. that date back to the Marshall Plan era.  The very idea of fair and reciprocal trade with America is anathema to Europeans.  Europe feels it’s entitled to rack up trade surpluses with the U.S. indefinitely. 

Based on the facts, the prevailing view throughout Europe must be that the U.S. is so rich and powerful that it can and should do it all.  After all, Europe is semi-socialist, and that is socialist-type thinking.  When it comes to America, Europe sings Karl Marx’s slogan: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”  What makes this especially pathetic is that Europe is not impoverished.  It’s wealthy

Europe is mistaking President Trump for his predecessors.  European complaints are falling on deaf ears at the Pentagon, and the withdrawal from West Africa is proceeding as planned. 

There’s a Yiddish word that best sums up the European attitude.  It’s chutzpah, which means unmitigated effrontery, gall, brazen nerve.  This fits Europe to a tee. 

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Europe, particularly France, is criticizing the United States for its plans to withdraw some or perhaps all of its 6,000 to 7,000 troops from West Africa.  The U.S. is doing this as part of an effort to shift its military assets around the world to re-orienting them to better face possible challenges by the Great Powers, especially China.  In doing so, defense secretary Mark Esper and his team question the value of the efforts in West Africa and want to scale them back, as those African militants lack the ability and intent to attack the U.S. homeland. 

The same cannot be said of France.  Islamic terrorism in West Africa is centered in former French colonies.  The French worry that if the militants aren’t countered in Africa, they could spread murder and mayhem to France itself.  And then there’s the immigration concern.  If backward countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania become failed states, a surge of African refugees could be bound for France and then throughout Europe. 

For those reasons, France currently has about 4,500 troops fighting in West Africa.  The French fear that the U.S. withdrawal will leave them exposed.  An aide to France’s President Emmanuel Macron is quoted in the news agency Agence France-Presse as saying, “American contribution to fight against Islamic extremist groups in West Africa were irreplaceable [emphasis mine].”  No doubt.  For among other things, the French rely on U.S. intelligence, logistical support, and aerial refueling at a cost to the U.S. of about $45 million a year.

Obviously, France, and by extension Europe, has a dog in this fight.  America does not.  Interestingly, although it is in their interest, no other European country, aside from France, has seen fit to place any of its troops on the line in West Africa.  Yet wealthy Western Europe seems to expect the U.S. to spend its resources and fight in an area where there’s no direct American interest at stake while at the same time adamantly refusing to pay anything close to a fair share for NATO. 

There are three other points need to be made to put this situation in context.  First, under President Donald Trump, the U.S. is actively addressing the number-one terrorist country in the world: Iran. In this effort, Europe is not just standing on the sideline, but has been actively trying to thwart American efforts by working around U.S. sanctions and giving moral support to the mullahs. 

Second, the fact that the U.S. is re-orienting its military to address communist China does not faze the Europeans in the slightest.  If push came to shove with the Chinese, would Europe then be there in any meaningful way to help defend the values of liberal democracy?  

Finally, there’s trade.  Europe holds fast to the antiquated and unfair trade agreements with the U.S. that date back to the Marshall Plan era.  The very idea of fair and reciprocal trade with America is anathema to Europeans.  Europe feels it’s entitled to rack up trade surpluses with the U.S. indefinitely. 

Based on the facts, the prevailing view throughout Europe must be that the U.S. is so rich and powerful that it can and should do it all.  After all, Europe is semi-socialist, and that is socialist-type thinking.  When it comes to America, Europe sings Karl Marx’s slogan: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”  What makes this especially pathetic is that Europe is not impoverished.  It’s wealthy

Europe is mistaking President Trump for his predecessors.  European complaints are falling on deaf ears at the Pentagon, and the withdrawal from West Africa is proceeding as planned. 

There’s a Yiddish word that best sums up the European attitude.  It’s chutzpah, which means unmitigated effrontery, gall, brazen nerve.  This fits Europe to a tee. 

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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