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Kevin Bayona: The world is safer because of U.S. troops

Posted: May 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.

This Memorial Day was a day of reflection over the sacrifices made by millions of America’s greatest warriors who are still fighting for America and each other after nearly 237 years. So now let’s talk about how America’s warriors will continue to play a significant role in global geopolitical affairs.

The United States essentially operates a global security apparatus, which generally maintains a free economic space in which trade, capital and labor may generously flow.

American hard power is a sort of "dark matter" that pervades the global geopolitical spectrum and mysteriously holds the world together.

Actually, unlike the vagaries of the universe, American soldiers, sailors, and airmen clearly, though often inelegantly (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.) navigate our dangerous world.

For instance, let’s take the world’s two centers of power, Europe and Asia, both of which are undergoing significant power shifts. The People’s Republic of China continues to upgrade and advance its naval and air forces across the Asian continent and the Pacific.

Meanwhile, the European Union continues to falter under economic and political weakness as the Russian Federation seizes an opportunity to carve out a new sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe.

These two challenges in Asia and Europe will be difficult to manage and require an acute understanding of realpolitik by America’s statesmen, but above all, they will require an unabashed commitment to an American security apparatus that can and will make things happen — and the countries in these two regions know it.

Let’s take the Middle East, a part of the world that has seen a great deal of turmoil over the last decade. Many Americans may argue that American military power is the last thing that part of the world needs, but realistically American might is the only thing that can completely knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities and generally serve as a counterweight to Iran’s growing regional hegemony.

In Central and Eastern Europe, countries like Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and others are scared as Russia reaffirms its natural gas-fueled ambitions across Eurasia.

NATO is not as influential or as powerful as it once was as European defense budgets continue to downsize, which leaves American military power as the only alternative to which Eastern and Central Europeans can turn in the face of "red menace."

East Asia provides an even more precarious scenario in which the American security apparatus serves as an even larger anchor to peace and stability. China will obviously come to be America’s greatest challenger in this century.

As a result, Japan continues to shed its quasi-pacifistic inclinations and will increasingly adopt a more aggressive and hardened military posture. Until then, American military power is the only thing that will keep the dreaded dragon from encircling Japan.

South Korea continues to rely on America’s warriors to check Pyongyang’s hordes of men and artillery. Taiwan, of course, solely relies on the American military for its continued existence.

The Philippines are also desperate for American military assets to balance China against dominating resource-rich islands in the South China Sea.

Vietnam, too, has been a critical ally of the United States and is currently refitting its Cam Ranh Bay as a deep-water harbor to attract new navies, but especially the American Navy, to maintain an American presence in the region.

Malaysia and Singapore have also been clamoring for American security as American vessels continue to dock in their respective ports in greater numbers. In 2011, Singapore announced that four American littoral combat ships would be stationed in its harbors.

Most diplomats from many of the countries I have mentioned believe the global American security apparatus is truly benign and benefits them as much as it does us.

So let us say thank you to America’s warriors as we remember them, for they have carried and continue to be burdened by a noble and awesome responsibility for which we all should be eternally grateful.

Kevin Bayona is a Valencia resident. He earned a BA in international relations and political science from Fairfield University, studied global affairs at New York University, and is a member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.


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