08/22/04 — Payback? Bringing troops home makes good sense

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Payback? Bringing troops home makes good sense

Many cities and towns in Germany have prospered because of the presence of U.S. military forces there.

That will change gradually as the United States withdraws its military personnel and assigns them to other areas, including stations back home.

It is part of a widespread realignment of U.S. forces announced recently by President George W. Bush.

The move is timely if not overdue.

Our troops in Germany were there originally as occupation forces following the defeat of the Nazi forces in World War II.

With their presence and the Marshall Plan, Germany made a remarkable economic comeback.

U.S. forces have remained in Germany for decades as a bulwark against potential aggression by the Soviet Union.

That threat no longer exists. The Cold War is over — and the United States and its allies have prevailed.

Meanwhile, we have developed close ties with Germany. This includes personal relationships between our military personnel with the citizens of the communities where they are stationed, and between our government and that of Germany.

The latter ties were strained by Germany’s joining France in opposing the United States in the moves against Saddam Hussein.

Is the coming removal of our military forces from Germany a form of “payback?”

If so, it would seem to many Americans as fitting.

But the move responds to a higher cause than vengeance.

It makes sense militarily and economically. We don’t need our troops standing guard against a nonexistent power. The billions of U.S. tax dollars being spent in Germany can have significant effects on the economies of communities back home. And our military personnel can enjoy the privilege of being assigned closer to their families.

Published in Editorials on August 22, 2004 1:18 AM