Tuesday, May 1, 2012

US troops in Okinawa "WWII leftover", Post-Gazette says.

A thoughtful editorial in Tuesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the announcement that the Marines will reduce their presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa by nearly half. A couple of excerpts from the short piece, which concludes by saying this limited withdrawal should be the "first [step]" toward removing the military presence from Japan:
U.S. taxpayers are still left pondering the logic of keeping 90 bases and 40,000 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and U.S. civilians on Japanese territory. World War II ended 67 years ago; it's hard to argue that the United States must still "watch" Japan. Japan also has the world's third- largest economy, behind the United States and China, and is capable of paying for its own defense. The latest evidence is it has offered $3.1 billion to help finance the cost of moving the U.S. forces off Okinawa.
. . .
The claim that the United States must maintain forces in Japan to stand watch over China also doesn't hold water. In fact, U.S. troops there serve as a provocation to China.
Our country's fascination with war and its obsession with militarism is extremely troubling, not only for peaceful Americans but for the rest of the world. It's especially ironic when we consider that seven decades ago the United States sought to punish Japan for those very same tendencies.

The Marines really aren't leaving---they'll still be all over Japan, and these 9,000 will be just be moved to other islands---and this shift isn't really a victory for pacifism, or for intelligent foreign policy. After all, the editorial really tries to appeal to America's wallet, and not to its conscience. Nevertheless, reading an editorial like this is refreshing: a positive step, but it should be only the first one toward building a culture that considers peace, not war, as the true victory.