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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13505 comments Earlier Merkel and recently Canadian foreign minister ( ) state that EU and Canada respectively might need to count more on themselves.
Do we witness a change whereby 'satellites' will come out of US' shadow or are these just slogans in response to Trump's more demanding policy towards them?

message 2: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer In my opinion, there are so many things taken out of context that I'm very wary of believing. Journalism isn't like it used to be and so many party voters in the U.S. only read their bias poop.

But to return to your question, as an American who has traveled a lot and lives in another country, I have felt for some time that America needs to step back and let others make decisions. I'll give you an example.

My husband and I are comfortable with who we are so we don't take offense to what one or the other says about our own countries. That said, we were watching a Youtube video that asked Germans about American stereotypes, which then started a different discussion about why other countries hate Americans so much. My husband stated that he believes it has a lot to do with America getting involved in situations that aren't any of their business. He's right. The "American government" has stuck their nose into other parts of the world where it wasn't appreciated. But I did point out that if we didn't get involved in WWII, would Hitler have reigned?

Then this conversation veered toward the Syrian refugee crisis. I was telling my husband that if the countries went into Syria back in 2012, like I said to friends, the people wouldn't have fled and ISIS wouldn't have so much power. I asked my husband why they didn't, and he said, "We were waiting to see what the U.S. was going to do?" I pointed at him and said, "Aha! You don't want us to stick our nose into your business, yet you wait for our move to see if you'll follow suit. Why wait for the U.S.? Why can't the EU make their own decisions?"

As an American, we're taught to have pride in our country, to love our country. We were told we were the greatest free country in the world. Now, I am a proud American, but I'm not so delusional to think we are the greatest country in the world. I have learned that we're not, and we're not the only free country either. But I also learned that so many hate us, yet turn to us. We're expected to help other countries, even though those people hate us. American citizens, not the government, but citizens donate time and money to many world catastrophes and we're still hated.

Our first president, the one and only not affiliated with a party, warned the American people of two things: 1) don't devote yourself to a party and 2) beware of foreign political connections. Below are quotes from George Washington's Farewell Speech:

“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to mispresent the opinions and aims of other districts.”

“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations…and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.”

“The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; AND SOONER OR LATER THE CHIEF OF SOME PREVAILING FACTION, MORE ABLE FORTUNATE THAN HIS COMPETITORS, TURNS THIS DISPOSITION TO THE PURPOSES OF HIS OWN ELEVATION, ON THE RUINS OF PUBLIC LIBERTY.”

Foreign Nations
“As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot.”

“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.”

“Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.”

As a people, we did not heed his warning. His speech is read every year in the Senate. Do you think our government actually listens to the words?

Maybe it is time for America to focus on its own issues. Its own inner collapse and let other countries take the lead. I don't necessarily feel we should abandon all responsibilities toward other countries, but there's a lot going on in America that needs fixing, and as a citizen, I'd much rather see our government focus on fixing these issues than stand with its chest puffed out to other countries. Of course, my response is on an emotional level.

message 3: by Nik (last edited Jun 08, 2017 04:32AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13505 comments I think that your thoughts reflect a fair observation of sometimes a lose-lose situ, when whatever US does it gets criticism for either an excessive or deficient involvement.
The US willingly assumed a role of a world leader, historically and contemporary capable to 'represent' the Western camp vs Russia or China while other countries played along, however if the US wants to pull back a bit and traditional allies view things differently, then they might as well take an independent course and care for themselves....

message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9516 comments Of course the US gets criticism. Any body out in the front gets criticism. However, it is wrong to believe the EU will solve any of these problems because the EU is not a country, but rather about 28 countries, most of whom do not have an effective military. Probably only Britain and France have militaries that are of any serious value, although others can send soldiers. The problem is, the others are not of any real value. Recall when a number of Bosnian Serb soldiers demanded that a whole lot of civilians be handed over to be massacred? The Dutch soldiers just handed them over. You would never get that response from the US army or marine corps. At the end of WW 2 the Wehrmacht was effectively disbanded, so even Germany is probably not that useful because the military tradition was removed. We do not know how much the US army has managed to train up German officers, but even then the psychology of seeing what Germany was like during WW 2 probably counts against it. Therefore, effectively, either Europe learns to live with Russia peacefully, or the US is going to have to continue being there. Learning to live peacefully is the obvious answer.

message 5: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I would be cautious about poo-pooing too quickly some of the European armies and soldiers, Ian, especially when you never served yourself or saw a war zone from up close. The Srebrenica Incident did happen and the Dutch soldiers involved certainly did not shine then, but that case does not reflect accurately on what the Dutch Army is like today. In my 32 years of service with the Canadian Forces, I served a total of 5.5 years overseas and exercised or worked with soldiers from many countries, including many from other NATO countries. Many small European armies have served competently and honorably in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Africa. Danish special forces soldiers are highly rated and performed well in Afghanistan, for example, something few people seem to realize. German officers are as competent as any, but their main problem is about the constraints their politicians put on them. I was in many field exercises in Germany in the 1970s and German soldiers were no pushovers, especially when it came to armored warfare. Their main problems are insufficient maintenance and training budgets and the ridiculous operational constraints/limits put on them by their politicians when deployed in a conflict zone. Most of the problems and limitations in many European armed forces are political and not due to any actual lack of military competence or prowess.

message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9516 comments In my defence, Michel, I don't think any of us have seen anything like what a modern war zone would look like against major powers, because i don't think anyone knows how it would be fought. Special forces can shine in occasional fights in asymmetric warfare, because most of the time they are not fighting, and when they do, they use surprise and careful planning. Continual major warfare will be something quite different, and it would certainly depend on coordinated efforts. The EU has, I gather, 28 countries, and the politics means 28 armies that may or may not coordinate well, they may be equipped differently, and they may well be missing key equipment.

The sort of thing I am thinking of was like Stalingrad. The Russians crossed the river and broke though the Italians and (I think) the Hungarians, neither of which had proper equipment to fight tanks. The real problem was, though, how did the Russians get across the river? You could not possibly arrange that without someone noticing if they were looking, except the Germans, the Italians and The Hungarians (or whoever they were) each had left it to the others to do the patrolling, and that is the problem as I see it.

I don't doubt many of the European soldiers do well enough in exercises, but exercises have their flaws, not the least of which is that everyone participating is expecting them and are prepared. There are a number of questions they would face in real war, including how much risk would they take to protect those guys over there who don't even speak their language?

message 7: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments Michel wrote: "I would be cautious about poo-pooing too quickly some of the European armies and soldiers, Ian, especially when you never served yourself or saw a war zone from up close. The Srebrenica Incident di..."

You must have a fascinating perspective, Michel. Our youngest is currently working on entering the ADF (the Australian Defence Force). He's 21, and will apply in August.

Our daughter's partner is in the ADF (Army), but hasn't been deployed out of Australia at this point.

message 8: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13505 comments Ian wrote: "Continual major warfare will be something quite different..."

Another factor is that a societal sensitivity to casualties is quite different among countries and cultures, there are places where loss of human life in big numbers is much more 'tolerable' (a cruel notion, I know) than in the West and in this context unmanned military aggregates become ever more important...

message 9: by Michel (last edited Jun 09, 2017 06:51AM) (new)

Michel Poulin Leonie wrote: "You must have a fascinating perspective, Michel. Our youngest is currently working on entering the ADF (the Australian Defence Force). He's 21, and will apply in August.

Our daughter's partner is in the ADF (Army), but hasn't been deployed out of Australia at this point. ..."

Leonie, the Australian forces have a very good reputation in combat and Australian soldiers are renown for their toughness. I would have been proud to serve alongside them during my service time.

Concerning the Srebrenica Incident, I served in Bosnia with NATO for six months in 2000 and learned quite a few things about the local mentality and various ethnical hatreds running deep around that sad region of the World. What Ian failed to mention about Srebrenica was that, at the time, the Dutch soldiers were under UN command and, like the Canadian contingent and other contingents at that time, had their hands tied behind their backs by ridiculous and senselessly restrictives rules of engagement made by spineless bureaucrats at UN headquarters. We Canadians went around those rules at times by doing some 'creative tactics and moves' (google about 'Battle of Medak Pocket'), notably by putting ourselves in front of civilians and in the line of fire, so that we could claim self-defense and return fire. This same UN spineless hierarchy also caused us grief in Rwanda, during the ethnic massacre there, when General Dallaire could not get any help or support from UN headquarters when he saw the start of the massacres.

In my five and a half years overseas, I saw many different armies operate and fight, including in Lebanon, Syria, Bosnia and Cyprus, and could give a honest opinion about what I think about the fighting abilities of various armies, along with their strong points and weak points. However, I am sure that this would raise owls of protests from many who could get offended by my judgment on their cherished armed forces. Maybe that could become the subject of a new (and very contentious) tread.

message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9516 comments If you want a new thread on that, or on spineless UN authorities, Michel, go for it. I apologise for this, because I am sure it was a typo, but it struck me as hilarious, so I would like to see "owls of protest". Wise birds, them.

Actually, these days such problems can come from within as well. In NZ we just had what I regard as a somewhat despicable act - someone wrote a book accusing some NZ soldiers in Afghanistan as causing a war crime. What happened was they were seeking a bomb maker in a night time raid, a fire fight started, the US conducted an air strike, and in what happened next, at least two civilians died, and some who were stated as being civilians. Of course the Taliban or ISIS do not wear uniforms, and when you are being shot at, you tend to assume those doing the shooting are enemy. If you try to clearly identify someone with a gun before shooting, you will end up dead. So civilians, if there really are any (is someone helping a bomb maker really a civilian?) have to take cover. If they are running around in the dark, they have to be assumed to be enemy. My view, anyway.

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