"The War on Terror Flounders" by Nicholas D. Kristof
Is there any explanation other than inertia to account for the United States' maintaining 47,000 troops in Japan, despite the lack of any threat there except perhaps from extraterrestrials, yet refusing to provide a few thousand troops to keep the swamp drained in Afghanistan?"
Except for that quote, in which Kristof makes a good point, he doesn't really make his case that Tom Ridge is losing the bureaucratic battle as head of Homeland Security. He probably is losing, but this column is unconvincing. Cable TV on the monitors instead of videoconference with the White House, and listing the acronyms that Ridge had on his (Ridge's) flowchart are more rhetorical flourishes than anything. Quotes from insiders would have been much more convincing evidence.
Update: I (and Kristof) have been caught uttering a Ridiculous Misstatement. To quote the Conservative Economist: "North Korea still poses a large threat and she's pretty close to Japan. Also, (I think) Japan pays the full yen costs of our troops stationed there. Thus, it is fairly cheap for America to have bases in Japan. Furthermore, there is no threat to (or from) Japan because of American troops. Remember, Japan is a rich country surrounded by nations which hate her. If we left, Japan would instantly develop atomic weapons to protect herself from China. This would cause China to increase the number of nuclear missiles she has and would also probably induce South Korea to go nuclear. American troops in Japan do a truly massive amount of good in the world besides protecting the Emperor from alien invaders." The paragraph after that is a bit muddy (plus, there's a typo), but essentially Kristof has it wrong, and so do I for quoting him. (I still stand by the fact that Kristof is right, though unconvincing, that Ridge is losing the bureaucratic battle as Director of Homeland Security.)