9 March 2019   Leave a comment

US President Trump has long complained about the cost of stationing troops abroad and has apparently come up with a plan to get US allies to pay more for US troops. Bloomberg describes the proposed plan:

“Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil — plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter.

“In some cases, nations hosting American forces could be asked to pay five to six times as much as they do now under the ‘Cost Plus 50’ formula.”

It is hard to determine how serious this proposal actually is. A member of Trump’s National Security Council articulated the logic of the idea:

“‘Getting allies to increase their investment in our collective defense and ensure fairer burden-sharing has been a long-standing U.S. goal,’ said National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis. ‘The administration has prioritized this issue: for example the president has pushed NATO allies to meet the Alliance’s 2 percent of GDP on defense spending guideline, which is resulting in a total of $100 billion in new defense spending. The administration is committed to getting the best deal for the American people elsewhere too, but will not comment on any ongoing deliberations regarding specific ideas.’”

The proposal sounds an awful like a protection racket, oblivious to the national interests served by stationing troops abroad. One needs to be sensitive to the geographic location of the US–it is very far away from the most economically dynamic areas in the world. It is also hard to imagine American soldiers being comfortable in the role of mercenaries. Niccolò Machiavelli rendered the most appropriate judgment on the value of mercenaries:

“Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were.” 

Johann Pachelbel, Canon in D Major

Posted March 9, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: