This story might strike a cord with some of you.
It seems there were these islands in which the United States had some interests. The islands had once been the possession of Spain but we won them in the Spanish-American War. Later we built and occupied military bases on these beautiful lush green islands filled with equally beautiful brown skinned people. From the beginning there was trouble. These proud people demanded to be free. Our two cultures clashed on many levels. There was strong resistance to American dominance of their economy and territory. They also object to “Gringos” marrying their beautiful young women. They even tried to assassinate a United States President!
No, it is not the Philippines. I refer to the island of Puerto Rico and her sister island, Vieques. For those geographically challenged, these are two small islands about 90 miles off the coast of Florida. While I served there, the “Independantistas” tried to assassinate my boss and did kill several sailors at Sebana Seca.
For years the people of Vieques have fought to eject the US Navy from their little island. The Navy has used half the island as a weapons testing area for almost 75 years. The ground is so contaminated no one will be able to use it for several hundred years and fishing is restricted. Even though the ejection of the Navy would gain the people of Vieques nothing; their pride demands the removal of these crude uncouth intruders. I was once almost assaulted by a 350 pound woman protesting our being on her island.
After years of demonstrations and arrests Congress decided to pull the Navy and return the island to Puerto Rican control. The government has not disclosed what it will do with this contaminated pile of rock filled with unexploded ordinance but they at least they have successfully ejected the imperialist barbarians.
Actions have consequences. Always be careful what you wish for, you may get it. On the nearby island of Puerto Rico the Navy has a huge complex called “Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station.” It employed over 1,200 civilians. There were over 700 military families living and working in the area. Each year they pumped 300 million dollars into the local economy. Entire Puerto Rican communities depended on “Rosy Roads” for their existence. Because we no longer test our pilots and equipment on Vieques, the US government decided they no longer needed this expensive facility and closed it.
Suddenly the Governor, Sila Calderon, held a news conference in San Juan, protesting the base closure and stating, “The people of Puerto Rico don’t now nor ever did have an interest in closing the Vieques bombing range or Roosevelt Roads. We are interested in both staying in Puerto Rico.”
After years of German protests, “Yankee Go Home”, the US government has announced it will pull American troops out of Germany. That will mean a six BILLION dollar annual loss to the German economy. There will be a lot of businesses which will have to close their doors. Thousands will be forced to stop their schooling. I am sure some of the rich Germans will make a lot of money selling old US military land and facilities but the vast majority of “little” people will suffer an economic down turn..
Personally, I think America should pull all its troops from every country around the world. Stationing troops in other countries is counter-productive. It has no real strategic military value and is actually just US “welfare” for other countries. That "welfare" creates a balance of payments problem and a drain on the American economy. It is almost like we are trying to buy or bribe friends and that never does not works well.
We are not ”Big Brother” or the world’s police force. While I support humanitarian aid, without caveats, our intrusion into the internal affairs of other nations seldom comes out well and is usually not appreciated by those nations. It is time for other nations to “police” themselves. Beyond simple economics and the strategic waste, the American military is not our best export. Unlike Filipinos, Americans often do not adapt well to other cultures. We have a tendency to be our own worst enemy and create a cultural backlash such as we had in this country.
America has the finest fighting force in the world... but we lack some grassroots diplomatic and adaptive skills.
Just the humble opinion of an old war dog…..