Morning Joe | March 11, 2013
>>> welcome back to morning joe . mark halperin , michael steele --
>> you got t keep going.
>> i came close. all back with us. joining us it author and historian elizabeth cobs hoffman, out with a new book, "american umpire." her op ed in last weeks "new york times" entitled "come home america " reads in part, "the sequester ex$85 billion this year in across-the-board budget cuts about half of which will come from the pentagon gives americans an opportunity to discuss a question we've put off too long. why we are still fighting world war ii . if today, our largest permanent bases are still in germany and japan , which are we are fectly capable of defending themselves and should bes trusted to help their neighbors. it's time they foot more of the bill or operate their own bases. china 's authoritarian capitalism hasn't translated into territorial aggression while russia no longer commands central and eastern europe . share, the burned of security with our al slice more than a fiscal necessity. it is the sine qua non to a return to global normalcy." elizabeth , for many, many years, i've been asking myself, i think a lot of people ask themselves, why in this day and age of increased budget crunches here in the united states , we have got huge numbers, maybe 85,000 people, military members in europe, in germany . we have okinawa, a sustainable base there in okinawa for years. i don't think norway is going to attack us. why are we doing this?
>> i think we boxed ourselves in, basically. this is why history is so important because if you know how you went down a certain path, then you can figure out how to get back home. and the united states , our allies pay -- rather we pay double, triple, quadruple what our allies pay for defense, i mean, as a percentage of gdpn japan they call this the yoshida doctrine , let america pay. . and the result of this is that our students have $100,000 worth of dote get qualified for basic jobs when they come out of college. ireland and iceland and finland, germany , france, student goes to school for free. and i think it's great we did a really important job. we did this at a time when everyone else was busted and broke and bombed out. and that was really important and that is really the truman doctrine . but now 60 years later, you know, it's time and we can empower our allies by telling them, this is your responsibility. and we do not need to be pay four time what is other people r
>> how many people do we have, let's start with germany , how many people do we have in germany , including big hospital base and everything like that and what's the cost?
>> i don't know the specific cost in germany but, for example in japan , we have about 7,000 people permanently. we have 3,000 in germany , we have 3,000 in the uk. we have people spread all around the world. and those numbers may not sound that big but it's over decades and decades that end go up and they go down. and it's just too expensive. but also, i think that there is a fundamental mooral cost, psych inc., cost, financial cost. what made america great was not our military industrial complex and we do not need those defense industries to be rich. the united states was the world's largest, most prosperous economy in 1890 . decades before we became the empire. although i think empire, i came upon that idea partly because i went back to the writings of george washington , john jay , alexander hamilton , james madison and the people who wrote our constitution and that's what they saw as the role of the federal government because they said states won't agree r you know, countries won't agree all the time with each other. so somebody occasionally, weigh n and when abraham lincoln invadeded american south , he was weighing in as an umpire but we eventually withdrew. we did not continue to okay pit american south because states need to be equal. and is true on an international scale as well.
>> i agree with the overall premise although i'm more with the chinese military threat than i think you are. we have president now probably somewhat sympathetic to what you are saying, certainly got economic conditions at home that would drive toward its the kind of changes would you like. what's stopping those changes taking place, what are the elements in that society that keep there from being debate and the kind of changes you would like to see?
>> i think fear is what keeps us there. you just mentioned the fear of china v always a bogyman under the table, sure there is one here now the united states was the staunchest defender of china all the way up through the middle of the 20th century and i think it's possible to acknowledge their growth, acknowledge their strengths and help them build to their strengths. you make people into your enemies. you can make them into your enemies. you can also, to some extent, at least make them if not quite your partners, you can establish a situation where it's understood that they have their power and their integrity and there's japan f china and japan aren't good neighbor he is it is partly japan 's fault.
>> i share some of your concerns about china . i can see your point about decreasing military in europe, but you know, when you look at where conflict is going, it is actually moving east. i was actually -- i was in pacific command maybe three years ago and saw a map of where conflict is heading it is heading away from the middle east and toward the south china seas or the least that's the view of the military cured and see these increasing tensions between china and japan . you see a lot of regional jockeying. is it the right moment right now to be drawing down in asia, do you think?
>> you may remember billy bront, the great german leader. and one of the things he did is he mended fences from world war ii and -- with poland that helped to lead to the end of the cold war . one thing japan has not done is really mend the fences from world war ii and that's their responsibility. our arming japan , building up our military in japan is never going to take away this basic fact will is that they need to show china that they are -- i know this sounds crazy, why are we fighting world war ii but here we are and i think our bases are partly about that so giving japan more responsibility, japan has defense as 1% of gross national product . we have almost 5%. so they need to be taking more of that and do more to build fences with china . they need to apologize for world war ii .
>> in your book, you make note of the fact that umpires don't win. and so why do you come to that conclusion and what do you see and say about that?
>> well, as i mentioned, our founders talked about the american government as an umpire to compel acquiesce sense when states would not yield to a basic framework of law. and after world war ii the great thing after world war ii is that we all together, as a globe, put in a framework of law and because no one was around to enforce it the u.n. initially could not do that the u.s. ponied up. but it's like if you stake a tree. if you keep the stake there forever, the tree does not flourish, so we planted this basis for the organization, we gave it a running start . we will always be there. not talking about withdrawing you and putting our heads in the sand or any such thing. but the american commitment is certainly out of proportion and proportion robs others of their responsibility.
>> you say you will always be there and yet tehran's point, you put conflict in on a google map , you know a little dot you follow it is going south china sea , yemen, africa so we are not always going to be able to afford to always be there in places like japan , germany , just a simple fact of life.
>> ed good thing is -- if you aren't, other people do stand up more. wasn't it fab bruise louse over the weekend --
>> like can chinese?
>> china putting their thumb down a little bit on north korea . as long as we are keep to -- to play the bad cop , they always get to be the good cop and that's really not quite fair us to and i don't even think it's really -- promotes better world security either.
>> the book is "american umpire," elizabeth cobbs hoffman, thank you very much.
>>> coming up, apple has enough cash on hand to buy ford and happen da and maybe germany , too and still have money left over so why is the company courting $137 billion in the bank? that's next in business before