I am fundamentally sanguine over the prospects of the UK and Europe in the wake of the June 23 Brexit referendum victory. For all the hand-wringing, I firmly believe that the parties will reach some kind of amicable settlement and avoid the kind of belligerence that used to be so common in Europe.
Because the U.S. maintains an army of occupation in Europe to this very day. Honestly: I have far more faith in our airborne troops and our armored cavalry units than I have in the sound judgment of European political leaders. Angela Merkel may have taken complete leave of her senses and Francois Hollande may be perpetually ineffective and unpopular, but the force of American arms has a way of bringing people around.
Now, the strength of our military forces in Europe has dwindled over time. The end of the Cold War, our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and our “pivot to Asia” have all served as reasons to reduce deployment levels in western Europe. Our forces currently stationed in Germany and Italy probably do not have enough strength to go head to head with the German and French armies in open combat and win with dominating force. But by their very presence, and through their ongoing relationships with European forces, they serve to keep the unthinkable firmly unthinkable.
I think that, given recent developments, the cause of European stability would be considerably furthered by quietly re-deploying heavy armor to Germany, and moving additional air force units to Great Britain. While I have little faith that President Obama and Secretary Kerry possess the imagination to understand why this is important, I am hopeful that this inevitable misstep on our part will not prove decisive.
Our economic clout and our diplomacy will take center stage as we try to manage this spat between various of our allies. But our power to knock heads is what counts in the final analysis; it is vital not to forget that.