Listen: Plan to Cut U.S. Troops in West Africa Draws Criticism From Europe
"Look look first at NATO the the actual military chiefs of rich Jew shortly to convene in Brussels the United States brost hat chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley has burned one interesting acting item on the agenda in advance prefiguring a potential drawdown of American forces in West Africa. This is extremely likely to prompt and unenthused response from France in particular which is extensively deployed a theater which it believes not without reason is a key frontline in the ongoing global campaign against Islamist extremism. Mary what's what's going on here. Won't use the United States Losing interest abruptly in West Africa. Well I think there are two reasons. one of them is because president trump is specially I think The top brass in American intelligence. They are very fixed on what they see As the future threat coming from China and that they are increasingly concentrating their resources looking in that direction the other thing and is that trump came to office and this is often forgotten Saying that he wanted to stop American engagement in in foreign wars. And this I think was one of the one of the reasons why he was elected. It was very popular policy For a lot of Americans and it remains so but right through his time as president trump has faced quite a lot of opposition from the top brass about cutting back on Americans abroad have been various attempts. He tried to pull Americans out of Afghanistan. The top brass objected. He tried to pull Americans out of Syria. Immediate media outcry from all the allies and saying he was betraying the Kurds. He tried to pull out of Iraq. Similar things West Africa could have basinas. Gene is a sort of slightly soft touch because the only people he's going to offend particularly by that again to be the French as we've seen well on the subject of the French being offended Jonathan they going to be aren't they and not without reason France already has four and a half thousand troops deployed in West Africa. There's two one hundred twenty more due to go shortly And it's not like they've been doing nothing night. They have found somebody to fight once they got there. Oh Yes yes. They've been very active. There and suffered suffered quite a few casualties as part of that. But also this fits for the Frans into a broader attempt by president. Emmanuel McCall to reset reset France's relationship with its former colonies in Africa lens going ahead on the economic front and on other fronts And and I think the question here is how much France wants to take responsibility for this region of the world how much it sees this. Moore's wars an international global Issue which the. US should continue to be involved with Mary. You made the accurate point. The trump's big pitch in two thousand sixteen was that he would bring troops home that America would not engage itself in pointless ridiculous interminable wars overseas etc.. He he probably does understand that the best pitchy can make this. November Is along the same lines. He he walked a very narrow path. Victory in two thousand sixteen but if he can go back the American people in two thousand twenty and say the economy's all right. I haven't started any stupid. That's probably his best shot. That being the case Do we wonder how nervous other NATO military chiefs are going to be the prospect of trump actually. Winning this thing is then possible that the arrest of NATO really has to stop thinking about the United States as the cornerstone of the alliance. Well I think that quite a lot of NATO but especially in the European Union That sense has really been strengthening. Ever since trump came to office there was quite a lot of diffidence Shall we say through the campaign. When trump seemed to cast aspersions on the future of NATO suggesting that it wasn't necessarily in US interest to Continue to be in NATO And you saw the Russians from that right across Europe but especially interestingly in Britain of course but also in eastern Central Europe where they see the United States and NATO in particular the protector. The A big protector of their security against Russia. Now it seems to me talk though Trump seemed to have been brought round a bit Um about the sort of survivability and relevance of NATO nonetheless that Trepidation in Europe remains and we've seen seen just in the last few days With a paper I think originating in the British military Where they say the new British government? When it does it's it's promised Security and defence review has got to look ahead to a time when the United States may and not be Engaged as it is in Europe and when the UK will have to look to being more autonomous in defense security terms and that is a complete rethink For All the British military your finds itself in classically horns Komo whatever cliche One canoes there on the one hand they want the United States to remain Invoke very very involved in NATO and if one is on his to be the main pair in NATO and supplier of troops And so on but at the same time particularly with trump in the White House. They don't want America to dominate dominate. When NATO is going so you get this whole debate about where is NATO? After the end of the Cold War Matt calls from about it being brain dead and having to rethink its future. Sure and so on. But you're has first of all to decide what role it sees for the United States and whether that allies with what trump things a couple. Let's move on now to the rare problem of what a retired. Pope should do with his time. Pope's usually leave the office of course only when recalled all to barracks by the omnipotent overlord but benedict the sixteenth bucked. This tradition in two thousand and thirteen when he handed in the big hat voluntarily since then benedict addict has mostly maintained inappropriate silence but he broke it a few weeks back to speak up in defense of priestly. Celibacy apparently concerned by reports that his successor Pope Francis Francis favored the church taking a more relaxed attitude. Will it now appears that Benedikt is walking it back. His name will be removed from future editions of the book in which he made his feelings known Mary. First of all It's obviously not possible to know the mind of a retired Pope Benedict the sixteenth sixteenth. But why would he be assuming that this point that anybody cares what he thinks. Well I think because he still has the rank this extraordinary sort of rank of Pope Emeritus America's extraordinary thing. I'm opposed America's you think he keeps on these credit card. Well that doesn't the hotel upgrade but by keeping the title even emeritus That puts tim effectively on a par with the current pope And I think that was always going to create difficulties and it's probably remarkable really that we haven't seen gene similar difficulties until now But I think that's also when you when you look at the two characters when you look at Pope Benedict as being What appeared a very reticent very theologically based very traditional minded German pope hope? And you look at Pope Francis who's latin-american And this in fact is where this whole troubles risen. Because he's talking about parts of the Amazon Wurzburg ver-very difficult priests. This argument is being going on for quite a long time as to whether if lifted the celibacy requirement. Then maybe it would be easier to find priests for those very remote remote areas But it does seem to me that in terms of character as well as in terms of everything else you're looking at two very different people and also a church which house has still a very strong conservative. Whatever the president pope says tries to do has a very very conservative lobby Maybe majority he I don't know and which you know finds it useful to appeal to the power of the Pope Emeritus. Jonathan an ice will confess to our listeners that I am not myself in especially accomplished a Catholic theologian. But you think I am. I'm hoping you know more about about this than I do. Just benedict the sixteenth quoted views on the issue in question itself. He says it doesn't seem possible to realize both vocations by which he meant the priesthood and marriage simultaneously. Now other married people in my experience have jobs boy. Is this one any different because When you become? I'm a priest as I understand it celibacy is part of your Decision to remove yourself from the material every every day human world and become somebody somewhat different Maria. I would like to expand this conundrum to the more general principle. Here which is which is what happens happens when people leave high office once you should that be the end of it once you are off the stage as it were should you therefore just shut up. Well I think One of the reasons may be the reason Currently for the continued existence of the House of Lords in the UK. is exactly I'm going to give a sort of position and role For people who have I think the current terminology is stepped back from public life But they can also make trouble even when they're in the Lord's even in what is regarded as subordinate position. vis-a-vis the comments I mean. We saw That Margaret Thatcher Entre gave her successor. John Major very hard time when he was in office And it's been I think it's quite difficult for people who've been to that extent engaged engaged on the front line Actually to say nothing when they see or seems to them that they're successor is behaving behaving such a foolish way when you suddenly become used to that and when you're still relatively young I mean that's the one has a number of quite young a young presidents prime ministers and so on retiring. Tony Blair Bill Clinton others who I think will find it very difficult just to say ongoing off to rotate long walks in the countryside. And say nothing I mean I. I'm sympathetic to that to an extent because it must be the heck of it adjustment from having the sort of the world hang. Hang on your every word to suddenly you know. Once you've sort of signed a piece of paper handed off nobody caring anymore but is there Jonathan away that you can do you. I guess constructive backseat driving. I mean I've just come back from Australia. Where our current Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been weathering? The bushfire crosses to a chorus of criticism. Some of it from one of his predecessors Kevin Rudd who broke with the protocol of differential respect and sank the Bhuttan with what unmistakably like relish the way that you can actually be helpful as a former officeholder. Yes I mean you can bring the wealth experience that you've had and good judgement judgement etcetera etcetera To to bear if your success was wanted of course they may not want they may not want somebody who was there and was perhaps more successful than them sitting on their shoulder the whole time so. It's very very difficult situation. I think you'd have a lot of ex-leader pitas find their way into leading a foundation for good works and so on but almost inevitably they get caught up in in what they used to do. I mean I think one of the one of the strongest conventions about not interfering not even commenting on your successor was in the United States. where past presidents were not not supposed supposed to say a word about their successor? But that's been broken barrack Obama who has been quite voluble On the subject of what he seizes uses the errors of Donald Trump's ways and on the one hand you know that's a lot of us who would say well you know good on him quite right for doing that on the other hand. I I think there's a very a very sensible place for this convention that says actually you should find something else to do or just imagine. Donald Trump defeated in November. I don't think he'll go silent silent."