Why can’t US reduce its military presence in the Middle East

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The US military presence in a client state is becoming frighteningly constant, and Afghanistan is only the last country to apply this model.

As negotiations between the United States and the Taliban develop, it becomes more and more obvious that even if an agreement is reached, the United States will only withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

President Trump recently reaffirmed this view. He noted that the current level of troops, comprising more than 14 thousand people, is reduced to 8600 people. Further reductions are possible if a final agreement is reached. Nevertheless, a significant number of special forces, intelligence and military contractors will remain indefinitely.

Frustrated supporters of the complete withdrawal of US troops from the longest war for America felt that the president again listened to military leaders and hawks such as Senator Lindsay Graham and abandoned the intention to pull the United States out of a seemingly endless conflict.

A similar situation was observed in the summer of 2017, when McMaster’s adviser to the US president for national security, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other advisers successfully defeated Trump, forcing him to abandon the promise he made during the 2016 presidential campaign to end the mission in Afghanistan.

Its strategy is in line with 70 years of US security policy worldwide. After the end of World War II, the United States implemented its own version of the Brezhnev Doctrine of the Cold War, which stated that as soon as a country became a member of the communist camp, it should always remain in it.

The American version of the doctrine suggests that once a country becomes dependent on the United States in the field of security, it will forever remain dependent on the US security system. If Washington introduces a military presence in the country, it will remain almost forever.

The United States still maintains a military presence in Europe and Japan after the end of World War II. Even the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself led only to a reduction, not a liquidation, of America’s military presence in Europe.

Washington also continues to deploy about 30 thousand troops in South Korea, although in this country the population is now 2 times larger, the economy is almost 50 times larger than in North Korea, and the conditions of the Cold War no longer matter.

Even on those rare occasions when US leaders agree to stop US military action, this move is reluctant. It took a decisive vote by the Senate of the Philippines and a massive volcanic eruption that buried the US airbase underneath the United States to withdraw troops from this country in the early 1990s.

As soon as U.S. officials criticized the threat of Islamic terrorism and the growth of China’s military power, they regained U.S. military presence. Perhaps the most outrageous point here is that the United States returned as part of the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which brazenly circumvented the powers of the Senate of the Philippines to conclude treaties.

When Washington started the war in Iraq in 2003, US officials assured the skeptical population of the Middle East that they were not inclined to introduce a permanent military presence in Iraq. President George W. Bush even entered into an agreement with the new democratic government of Baghdad on the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.

Despite intensive lobbying by the hawks to abandon this commitment and negotiate a status of forces agreement to preserve US troops in Iraq, President Barack Obama was adhering to the withdrawal deadline, but Washington quickly took advantage of the Islamic State threat and sent troops back to the country.

The activity of the Islamic State has also become an excuse for the entry of American troops into neighboring Syria. The Trump administration insists that the Islamic State is defeated, and that the caliphate it created is no longer there, there are no signs that the US military presence in both countries will end in the foreseeable future. In the best case, you can hear slurred mumble about a possible reduction in troops.

Unfortunately, this is also a likely scenario for a mission in Afghanistan. The United States does not develop imperialism of the old-style conquests, creating colonies and using direct rule.

Modern American imperialism consists in establishing relations between the patron and the client, creating dependents in the security sphere and realizing this policy through a whole network of military bases. Nevertheless, this is imperial politics, and the US military presence in the client state becomes frighteningly constant, and Afghanistan is only the last arena in which this model is applied.


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