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Ted Galen Carpenter

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The Foreign Policy Blob’s Alarmist Response to Trump’s Partial Troop Withdrawal

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Given the reaction from advocates of Washington’s foreign policy status quo in Europe (and nearly everywhere else in the world), one might think that President Trump’s reported decision to order a modest drawdown of 9,500 US troops stationed in Germany was a crime akin to Gen. Benedict Arnold’s defection to the British during the American Revolution. 

NATO partisans portray the move as a betrayal of America’s democratic European allies, an impulsive, dangerous gesture, and a geostrategic gift to, wait for it…Vladimir Putin. Council on Foreign Relations scholar Philip Gordon summarizes the foreign policy establishment’s indictment succinctly. “President Donald J. Trump’s order to withdraw nearly ten thousand US troops from Germany betrays a close ally, undermines confidence in Washington, and makes Europe and the United States less safe.”

All of the arguments against the move are deeply flawed. First, it was not an impulsive move, reflecting Trump’s supposed pique at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to attend the forthcoming G-7 summit in the United States. US officials have complained for years about Berlin’s anemic defense spending and its free‐​riding on America’s security commitment. 
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Preventing Liberty from Becoming a Coronavirus Fatality

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Public attitudes about the coronavirus outbreak increasingly exhibit features of a collective panic. That development creates the danger that government measures designed to deal with a very real public health problem may lead to enormous collateral damage both to the economy and the freedoms that Americans take for granted.

Governments at all levels have taken ever more extreme (even outrageous) actions in an effort to stem the outbreak. The governors of New YorkCalifornia, and other states have issued orders closing most private businesses and requiring residents not engaged in “essential” activities to remain in their homes. Nevada’s governor greatly restricted doctors from prescribing an anti-malaria drug that Trump administration experts suggested held promise for treating coronavirus, because in the governor’s opinion, such prescriptions might lead to hoarding. US Justice Department officials secretly asked Congress to give the executive branch the authority to seek orders from federal judges to detain indefinitely any individual during the current emergency or any future one.

Although appalling, such attempted eviscerations of constitutional liberties should not be surprising. Governments invariably exploit crises to expand their powers—often to a dangerous degree. That certainly has been the track record in the United States throughout our history. Worse, a significant residue of expanded powers always persists after the crisis recedes and life supposedly returns to normal.
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Syria: Another Forever War Beckons

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An explosion of criticism had erupted in Congress and the news media in response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw a small contingent of US troops stationed in northern Syria. Those forces served as a (mostly symbolic) barrier to Turkey’s ambitions to conduct a military offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces there. Ankara has now initiated that offensive.
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