By Sumantra Maita • The Federalist
Bob Gates, perhaps the most farsighted post-Cold War defense secretary, presciently predicted in 2011 “that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress—and in the American body politic writ large—to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”
Gates, who once rightly understood that the Saudis would fight Iranians to the last American, also essentially hinted the same with regards to Germany and Russia, “nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”
Put simply, he was saying the Germans would talk about an international liberal order for as long as Americans would pay to defend it. The day they are caught not tangibly supporting this order, they would throw a tantrum and blame Washington. “Future U.S. political leaders– those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me—may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost,” he said.
Recent developments in Turkey and Russia have raised the strategic importance of the Republic of Bulgaria for the United States, NATO and the EU. This past summer, NATO staged major exercises in the county, involving more than 25,000 troops from 20 allied countries. Yet despite increased military cooperation in recent years, current political dynamics in the country threaten to undermine Bulgaria’s relationship with the military alliance and provide the Kremlin with a new foothold in the former Soviet satellite.
Economic and political challenges have set the table for the current political environment. Although the country has undergone both political and economic transformation since 1990, Bulgaria remains the poorest nation within the European Union. Its current GDP is only a meager $152 billion. The annual per capita income translates to an employed individual bringing home $456 per month, not even half of the average for the EU. Unemployment is almost 11 percent, well above the EU average, which is less than 10 percent.
In order to grow their economy, the country must address three major economic issues. The first is economic diversification — actively encouraging the emergence of mid-and small size enterprises. Second, Bulgaria will have to raise productivity significantly both in industry and agriculture. Finally, Bulgaria must solve demographic challenges that are similarly affecting a whole host of European nations.
“These are the Boys of Pointe du Hoc”
by Scott L. Vanatter
Forty years after the Allied forces landed at Normandy, President Reagan spoke commemorating those who stormed the beaches.
On June 6, 1984 he spoke at the U.S. Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc, France. He opened his remarks by recalling that “Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.”
Poignantly he described, “the boys of Pointe du Hoc” who “took the cliffs” as “champions who helped free a continent.” He cited a poem by Stephen Spender, that the men “left the vivid air signed with your honor.’ Continue reading
“They came not as Conquerors, but as Liberators”
by Scott L. Vanatter
After speaking at Pointe du Hoc earlier in the day (June 6, 1984), President Reagan also spoke at Omaha Beach, France.
He began by harking to Lincoln’s challenge that “we can only honor” those who stormed the beaches and cliffs “by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they gave a last full measure of devotion.”
Again that day he reminded a world facing another kind of aggression, a still existent Soviet Union, that the Allies “came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongly seized.” Continue reading