Friday, April 2, 2010

"You Never Know"

Driving home from the gym this morning, I came in on a discussion on a “Talk Radio” station concerning the military bases that we have in Germany and Japan. And as I’m listening, I’m thinking, as most people, I imagine, do:

“What are they still doing there?”

Since the war that originally sent them to those “hot spots” has been over for sixty-five years, you’d think it might be time for the personnel that are stationed there to come home. It would appear – you know, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Japan having no army – that the situation has sufficiently cooled for those particular deployments – though I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject – to be over.

Wouldn’t you think?

(It seems to me, if the post-war situation in Germany was that serious in the first place, they would never have sent Elvis.)

Jumping back a few decades, the last apartment I lived in in Toronto happened to be located two blocks from what was called back then the Yugoslavian Embassy. The embassy was housed in large, stone structure, situated on the corner of a somewhat major thoroughfare – Spadina Road – and a side street that ran into it.

Years before I moved into the area, a faction of anti-government troublemakers had blown the Yugoslavian Embassy up. Not the whole thing – I mean, they didn’t drop anything from a plane – but the place was pretty messed up. The current venue was the rebuilt version.

The official response to the attack was immediate. The day after the bombing, the Toronto police department assigned two officers to the full-time duty of protecting the Yugoslavian Embassy. Not the same two officers – they would have gotten tired – but rotating teams of two officers.

From that time on, whenever you’d pass the building, you would always see two uniformed police officers casually – though alertly – proceeding up the sidewalk adjacent to Spadina Road, making a right turn, and then proceeding along the side street. When they reached the end of the building, they would turn around and proceed back along the side street, turning left, and proceeding down Spadina Road, until finally, they returned to the place where they’d started. At which point, they would turn around and do it again.

The teams of police officers followed this exact same routine twenty-fours a day, seven days a week, holidays not excluded.

After engaging in this security surveillance for seven years, somebody said, “Enough.” The situation had cooled. The costs were adding up, and, I mean, come on. “How long is this supposed to drag on, eh?”

So they stopped sending the policemen.

The next day, somebody blew up the embassy.

I don’t know what keeps the soldiers in Germany and Japan. But it is possible somebody told them that story.


Scot Boyd said...

I think Japan and South Korea is still manned because we are still at war with North Korea. Plus there's the Taiwan straight to worry about.

I believe our German base is a major transshipment area for men and material headed for the Middle East.

steve macdonald said...

After the First World War, we not only withdrew all our troops from Europe, we practically dissembled our entire military. A few years later, the Germans started the Second World War. This time, at the conclusion, we left a good sized army there, stationed in Germany. We also kept our entire military on a wartime footing. Germany hasn’t started another world war since.

Since, to an extent, we make the Germans subsidize the cost of our army stationed in their country, we can look at it as cheap insurance.

Basically the same holds true for US bases in Japan. Ostensibly we’re there to defend them, I guess. But you might notice that the Japanese haven’t shelled any of the Hawaiian islands ever since we installed an Air Force base in Okinawa.