Hello, Bulgaria

A very important development in Bulgaria is attracting little—to—no attention in the American Bigfoot Media. The intricate and far—reaching recasting of America's military force deployment is one of the most important facets of G.W. Bush's foreign policy. But, because it takes place in small steps, in widely scattered locations, involves many different countries (but apparently does not count as 'multilateral') and because it requires some degree of consistent attention and reflection, the punditocracy and editorial powers—that—be at the agenda—setting media powerhouses keep their readership oblivious. It is, after all, much easier to simply throw around the label 'unilateral' and move on to news of Michael Jackson.

 

However, for gown—ups, there is an event worth noting. According to the Sofia Morning News, on December 19th Bulgaria's Parliament issued a declaration approved by 200 members, and opposed by only 3 from the left wing opposition, approving American redeployment of forces from Germany. According to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, the actual construction of the bases could start in less than two years.

 

This measure of overwhelming support strengthens America's hands as it begins negotiations with NATO countries over force redeployment. Germany's left—leaning political leadership could be forgiven for experiencing a sinking feeling in the pits of their stomachs. Germany's fragile economy will dearly miss the dollars spent by American forces all the more so, because the impact is concentrated at a few locations in the West, such as Frankfurt and Heidelberg, which will experience acute pain.

 

Even more important than the economic pain will be the loss of strategic leverage and of the security provided by American taxpayer—funded troops, equipped with state—of—the art weapons. Germany's defense will increasingly fall on its own soldiers, who are rapidly falling behind the capabilities of the Coalition of the Willing forces. Germany has no satellite intelligence, no integrated battlefield management capability, no pilot—less micro—drones with television cameras, no strategic bombing capability, no significant naval force projection capability, and on and on. But it does have a well—funded (and increasingly expensive) welfare state in place to comfort its rapidly aging population.

 

Meanwhile, traditional antagonist Poland, a nation with many historic scores to settle, is a full scale participant in the Iraq front, whose elite GROM special forces unit is sharing in the invaluable technologies and experience generated by the 21st Century doctrines of warfare, which continue to be developed within the Coalition of the Willing. While nobody expects Poland to launch a 'drang nach westen,' the sense of strategic slippage and longer term loss of leverage and power, must be quite palpable within Germany's ruling circles.

 

Bulgaria occupies an equally, if not more so, strategic bit of territory. Shifting America's forces to Bulgaria puts them on the Black Sea, Russia's vital warm—water coast, and a forward strategic base for addressing future problems in Turkey, the Middle East, and the Caspian Basin. An increasingly dictatorial Russian regime will now face American power in yet another vital location on its sourthern flank.

 

Turkey exercised its own strategic leverage against America in the beginning of the war in Iraq, by refusing to allow American forces to deploy into northern Iraq from Turkish bases. This was almost certianly because of pressure from it Islamic ruling party's rank—and—file. We will probably never know what this cost us in terms of money, and more importantly, battlefield initiative. The United States was deprived of the opportunity to carry out a pincer maneuver on Baghdad, from both north and south. Arguably, this allowed Saddam to flee northward to his hiding spot in Tikrit, and it certainly allowed the dead—enders to ensconce themselves in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad, as America was limited to driving up from the south.

 

With America operating powerful bases just north of Turkey, the leverage of Turkey on America diminishes radically. Turkish bases, especially Incerlik AFB, have been vital to force projection in the Middle East. Now, there is a credible (if slightly less desirable) alternative to the north. Naval bases on the Black Sea give America particularly strong leverage in terms of control of the Dardanelles and Bosporous, one the major potential choke points on maritime commerce, and a vital interest of Turkey. For all of these reasons, Turkey now finds itself with more reasons to be accommodating to United States interests.

 

Needless to say, huge cost savings will result from transferring American forces from Germany to Bulgaria. Not only are local costs in land, labor, and materiel far lower, the distance from potential trouble spots is much less. Closer access to trouble spots means more missions can be carried out in the same amount of time, and much less fuel and other variable costs are incurred whenever military aviation assets are deployed.

 

For all of these reasons, Bulgaria's huge warm welcome to American forces is big news, and very good news.

A very important development in Bulgaria is attracting little—to—no attention in the American Bigfoot Media. The intricate and far—reaching recasting of America's military force deployment is one of the most important facets of G.W. Bush's foreign policy. But, because it takes place in small steps, in widely scattered locations, involves many different countries (but apparently does not count as 'multilateral') and because it requires some degree of consistent attention and reflection, the punditocracy and editorial powers—that—be at the agenda—setting media powerhouses keep their readership oblivious. It is, after all, much easier to simply throw around the label 'unilateral' and move on to news of Michael Jackson.

 

However, for gown—ups, there is an event worth noting. According to the Sofia Morning News, on December 19th Bulgaria's Parliament issued a declaration approved by 200 members, and opposed by only 3 from the left wing opposition, approving American redeployment of forces from Germany. According to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, the actual construction of the bases could start in less than two years.

 

This measure of overwhelming support strengthens America's hands as it begins negotiations with NATO countries over force redeployment. Germany's left—leaning political leadership could be forgiven for experiencing a sinking feeling in the pits of their stomachs. Germany's fragile economy will dearly miss the dollars spent by American forces all the more so, because the impact is concentrated at a few locations in the West, such as Frankfurt and Heidelberg, which will experience acute pain.

 

Even more important than the economic pain will be the loss of strategic leverage and of the security provided by American taxpayer—funded troops, equipped with state—of—the art weapons. Germany's defense will increasingly fall on its own soldiers, who are rapidly falling behind the capabilities of the Coalition of the Willing forces. Germany has no satellite intelligence, no integrated battlefield management capability, no pilot—less micro—drones with television cameras, no strategic bombing capability, no significant naval force projection capability, and on and on. But it does have a well—funded (and increasingly expensive) welfare state in place to comfort its rapidly aging population.

 

Meanwhile, traditional antagonist Poland, a nation with many historic scores to settle, is a full scale participant in the Iraq front, whose elite GROM special forces unit is sharing in the invaluable technologies and experience generated by the 21st Century doctrines of warfare, which continue to be developed within the Coalition of the Willing. While nobody expects Poland to launch a 'drang nach westen,' the sense of strategic slippage and longer term loss of leverage and power, must be quite palpable within Germany's ruling circles.

 

Bulgaria occupies an equally, if not more so, strategic bit of territory. Shifting America's forces to Bulgaria puts them on the Black Sea, Russia's vital warm—water coast, and a forward strategic base for addressing future problems in Turkey, the Middle East, and the Caspian Basin. An increasingly dictatorial Russian regime will now face American power in yet another vital location on its sourthern flank.

 

Turkey exercised its own strategic leverage against America in the beginning of the war in Iraq, by refusing to allow American forces to deploy into northern Iraq from Turkish bases. This was almost certianly because of pressure from it Islamic ruling party's rank—and—file. We will probably never know what this cost us in terms of money, and more importantly, battlefield initiative. The United States was deprived of the opportunity to carry out a pincer maneuver on Baghdad, from both north and south. Arguably, this allowed Saddam to flee northward to his hiding spot in Tikrit, and it certainly allowed the dead—enders to ensconce themselves in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad, as America was limited to driving up from the south.

 

With America operating powerful bases just north of Turkey, the leverage of Turkey on America diminishes radically. Turkish bases, especially Incerlik AFB, have been vital to force projection in the Middle East. Now, there is a credible (if slightly less desirable) alternative to the north. Naval bases on the Black Sea give America particularly strong leverage in terms of control of the Dardanelles and Bosporous, one the major potential choke points on maritime commerce, and a vital interest of Turkey. For all of these reasons, Turkey now finds itself with more reasons to be accommodating to United States interests.

 

Needless to say, huge cost savings will result from transferring American forces from Germany to Bulgaria. Not only are local costs in land, labor, and materiel far lower, the distance from potential trouble spots is much less. Closer access to trouble spots means more missions can be carried out in the same amount of time, and much less fuel and other variable costs are incurred whenever military aviation assets are deployed.

 

For all of these reasons, Bulgaria's huge warm welcome to American forces is big news, and very good news.