What happens if Uncle Sam goes home?
Support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders indicates more and more. Americans are questioning the nation's role as global leader. But what happens if Washington Jettison? Us alliances and ended the Ford Presence of U. S. forces according to Thomas wrought in the Lightest Foreign Affairs magazine. That's a distinguished New York based journal a strategy of Retrenchment. He argues would among other things. Destabilize the regional security orders about Europe and Asia increase the risks of nuclear proliferation and aggravate the threat of major power conflict. The foreign affairs article is cold. The folly retrenchment. Why America can't withdraw from the world? The author Thomas Rod is director of the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution and is affiliated as Nonresident Fellow with the Lowy Institute in Sydney. He's based in Washington. Hi there Tom Hi Tom. It's great to be Richard and join us in cine studio. Is Doug Bandow? He's a senior fellow at the Cato Institute also in Washington a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and this she's scholar in residence at the Center for Independent Studies. That's a Sydney based think tank that I had welcome back. I glad to be on Tom. Tom Why do you still support a foreign policy? Strategy that Yusei quote has served the US. Whoa for decades. Well I think that the you know the. Us has had a critical role to play in Europe and in Asia since the end of our two and then after the Cold War And I think it really has worked. You know it's it's created sort of stable open and prosperous regional orders. I think if the US was to withdraw from those regions those orders will be at jeopardize some. We'd see all sorts of negative effects and I think as we look at American farm policy. Be Up to distinguish between some of the conflicts in Afghanistan and elsewhere that might make sense to to to pull back from or to to to end and the more broad sort of American commitment to international security. And I'm sort of worry that we might throw the baby out with about water in this when we talk about you know how engaged the US should be in the world but your critics would say that the US has over extended itself Particularly in nations. That don't directly affect the American national interests. I think of Afghanistan Iraq Libya many people would say strategic disaster after strategic disaster. Doesn't that undermine the case for? Us Global leadership role. Well I think that we can. We can debate the merits of of each of those and certainly in Afghanistan. Icee in the piece that it's time to end the the Board Air. I think Iraq is a sort of a tricky case because there needs to be some sort of a small presence to prevent the resurgence of Isis. And but the main point of the piece actually is that the US has not overextended in Europe and Asia. So all those cases you mentioned are sort of the Greater Middle East right there nod And Not in Europe not in Asia and I think the strategy in those two regions is basically working has worked quite well and so I don't really see the evidence of an over extension in either of those two places over extension dot band. I think we're clearly overextended. The problem is it's going to get worse. You look financially at the United States. It has a trillion dollar annual deficit for the foreseeable future without a financial crisis. Those numbers will get worse of the entitlements. Is the elderly retire? The question is how one maintains globe spanning military capable of trying to contain nations along their borders essentially everywhere and also fund other commitments. I think is going to put enormous pressure on the US budget. And I think what we see today is basically an overhang of a policy. It's inertia for policy that worked well in terms of containing the Soviet Union but doesn't make much sense when it comes to Russia and a policy that in East Asia's very complicated China's strikes me as being the major problem that we face but it makes no sense to extend ourselves everywhere for primarily concerned about China. I kept isn't a US. Pullback from Asia and Europe want that be more likely to embolden regional powers like China and Russia. I don't view Russia's being particularly strong power the stage Russia doesn't dominate Europe the way the Soviet Union threatened do so Russia doesn't have anywhere close to the relative strength towards Europe that China does Europe strikes me as being a very good example of where history suggests we should change policy changing circumstances. Meena change the policy now argue frankly. Us policy's been destabilizing. American policy towards Russia in terms of NATO expansion involvement in Ukraine and Georgia has actually provoked the Russians and has created greater problems there and argue greater threats than an alternative policy. Would Have Tom Rock. Well I guess I would sort of ask Doug if you pull of NATO or reduce the US commitment to troops in the to to the countries in the Baltics Eastern Central Europe. I mean I see the presence there as having a deterrent effect. In that if we didn't have NATO Basically have Russian incursions into those countries in greater instability. I also think NATO helps to sort of try to slow the rise of authoritarian intimate some of those countries. We have big problems in Hungary and elsewhere. I think if NATO was to disband pullback those problems get worse than that. We need to be more focused. On Democracy. In those countries that are currently in the NATO Blah if as the retentions argue the US should basically withdraw from NATO or weedy ended started military. An present there that will have significant negative consequences in another part of Tom. Wright's thesis in his Foreign Affairs as I dug Bandau is that. Us retrenchment leads to nuclear proliferation that is US allies. No longer protected by uncle. Sam would be tempted to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Why Co that danger Doug Bandow? Everything's relative here. Sometimes you live in a world with bad choices so if the question is to the United States forever defend lots of allies being willing to sacrifice American cities to defend them or should they have nuclear capabilities. Themselves it's not so clear to me. That proliferation is such a bad thing. It's not a good thing but the question is does. The United wanted to risk Los Angeles to protect Taipei and Sydney and Seoul and Tokyo should the US be prepared to risk. You know. The United States still cities and dealing with Russia when in fact already Britain and France have nuclear weapons. Perhaps the European Union are some European defense for should also have nuclear capabilities. I don't think that it's a good alternative. On the other hand the assumption undebated you know kind of unconsidered. I think that. Us should of course maintain this Really starts falling apart especially in Northeast Asia if North Korea possesses missiles capable of hitting the United States and targeting American cities doesn't make any sense for the United States to be prepared to go to war on the Korean Peninsula. What risks are at stake? What interests are at stake? I look at that and say this really is at point to argue that. Maybe we need to reconsider. Who has want Tom Rod on that note? How would you respond to Doug? Bangles question does the. Us wants to risk of Los Angeles to protect Taiwan. Yeah I just. I just think it's really. You know in the exaggerated concern. I mean this is a very real concern. At the height of the Cold War there was a problem. Extended deterrence you know. Obviously there was a number of Said's and brinksmanship but since the Cold War the US has been able to deter Russia in Europe and Saudi. Different way you know actors in Asia what I going to the brink of a global crisis and You know that would precipitate nuclear war. Hasn't we haven't seen that pattern of crises in the last three decades so The evidence would suggest that deterrence in Europe is fairly stable. I came guests. Doug band out from Kite. When Thomas Rod from Brookings? Both prominent washington-based think tanks. And we're dividing. Tom's lightest site in Foreign Affairs magazine. The folly of retrenchment. Why America can't withdraw from the world before we turn to Australia's neighborhood in is Doug. I just want to put it back to you on this question of pulling America out of certain regions. Say the Middle East if the US pulls out of Iraq and Syria a want you just invite those suny jihadist or even the Shia militias to fill the void while they're already there. I mean the reason. Shia militias are active in Iraq is because we blew it up. I mean the notion that America promotes stability in the Middle East. I think is a fantasy the? Us helped blow up Libya now. We created the precedent that if you're dumb enough to give up your nuclear weapons and missiles we take you out who what dictator wants to follow more Merck Offi. I think the the Iraq circumstance you cannot complain about Iranian involvement there when we took out the anti Iranian dictator. So I don't see us as being able to promote relative stability in Iraq in twenty eleven when Obama Administration withdrew. Us troops that created a vacuum for those Sunni. Jihadists non-islamic stunned. I mean th this. As soon as you hottest were active. The reason we have al-Qaeda's it was created al Qaeda in Iraq which transmuted into Isis Obama pulled out following the George W Bush plan Bush could not get a status of forces agreement through when he had all the troops. So the blame Obama for this. I think is silly. And if American troops had been there there's no reason to think they would have maintained stability they would have been a target not only of Shia militias it would have been targeted Sunnis. Both sides would viewed the United States as being a problem. I told me dot band now. He he's a former Reagan. Adviser Menu reflects with I express themselves in different ways Obama trump and sands would essentially agree with Doug Bandow. How would you respond? But I think Obama. The Obama Administration came to the conclusion that it had sort of made a mistake in pulling out of Iraq in the manner in which it did because it went back in. You know to fight. Isis applied played an isis merged So I think you know. I think there's a tendency when we look at these issues you know to say the US withdraw from all of these conflicts to say. It's a Bama toward the beginning. Iraq was the wrong war. Could start it on false. Premises and Afghanistan was the good war Because it was legitimate when it began and broader than looking at the strategic consequences of both which are sort of independent of the causes right. And you know if you have a country `significant you know as Iraq in the heart of the Middle East. What goes on there has consequences and consequences for the region at a time when there is still continuing terrorism threat. I think is happening now. Let's bring it to Asia a dog. You obviously five a retrenchment of US power from not just Europe in the Middle East. I completely get that but you also support a retrenchment from East Asia question. Why China just feel the strategic vacuum left by Uncle Sam and therefore threaten the integrity of many sovereign states in the region. Doug Bandow well. China's the great challenge and the question of how to deal with China. There's no easy answer. I think the question of what America's role should be. It's clearly much more of a backup role it's not America's job to protect scarborough reef for the Filipinos me last year. Rodriguez territory announced after the Chinese Sankar ship. The US should send the navy in and start bombing. And I'm here with them. I mean it shows the danger of essentially transferring these decisions to local powers. And there's no doubt I think providing security guarantees