Return carriage for Merkel cancellation ?: Planned US troop withdrawal from Germany: “Another own goal of the Trump team”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in Germany that the Americans want to withdraw soldiers. The topic has been known for a long time. But the style of the announcement now should not have been well received in Berlin. US experts are horrified: According to them, the step will primarily harm the US itself.
The alleged plans by US President Donald Trump to significantly reduce the presence of American troops in Germany have been received extremely cautiously in Berlin. There were initially no comments from the Federal Foreign Office or the Ministry of Defense. Union parliamentary group deputy Johann Wadephul saw in the plans on Saturday a further wake-up call to the Europeans to take their fate more firmly in their own hands.
According to media reports, Trump apparently wants to reduce US troops in Germany from 34,500 soldiers by 9,500. In addition, a ceiling of 25,000 US soldiers who could be present in Germany at the same time should be introduced, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (local time) with reference to unnamed US government officials. Trump has already instructed the Pentagon accordingly.
USA did not inform NATO partner Germany about withdrawal
“Der Spiegel” also reported on a planned massive reduction in US troops. Accordingly, the White House has informed parts of the US Congress that the Pentagon will withdraw between 5,000 and 15,000 of the currently around 35,000 US soldiers from Germany by autumn 2020. The US government did not inform NATO partner Germany in advance of the decision as usual, the report said.
CDU politician Wadephul argued: “The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary management task: the involvement of the allies in decision-making processes.” . “
“The Americans are not here to do us a favor”
The former inspector general of the Bundeswehr, Harald Kujat, pleaded for serenity. Kujat told the editorial network Germany (RND, Saturday): “The Americans are not here to do us a favor, but because they have strategic interests. That is why they will definitely not withdraw completely from Germany. “
In this context, he referred to the US base Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate, a linchpin for military operations in Africa and the Middle East, and the provision of military training areas, barracks and personnel by the German side. A large number of the stationed soldiers are not entrusted with the protection of Germany, but with the protection of US interests in Africa and Asia.
A partial withdrawal does not endanger German security, argued Kujat. Observers assume that 25,000 US soldiers in Germany are sufficient for the strategic goals of the Americans.
US experts also assume that this step would primarily harm the US itself. “Another Trump team own goal,” commented Julianne Smith of the transatlantic foundation “German Marshall Fund” on Twitter. “They somehow believe that they can harm Merkel who they want to punish for their ‘No’ to the G7 summit. In fact, this move is damaging the interests of the United States and further harming an important relationship. ”
Former US military commander in Europe, Ben Hodges, described the decision as a “colossal mistake”. “The decision illustrates that the president did not understand how essential the US troops stationed in Germany are for America’s security,” said Hodges the “mirror”.
“The reason we stationed US troops in Germany is not to protect the Germans,” Hodges told The New York Times. “Everything we have is for our benefit. The decision doesn’t seem to be tied to any kind of strategy. ”
No confirmation of the plans yet
The White House did not confirm Trump’s plans to withdraw. And the Pentagon didn’t comment on that either. The spokesman for the National Security Council, John Ullyot, said on Friday (local time) on dpa request that there is currently no announcement. Trump is constantly checking the deployment of US soldiers abroad. “The United States remains committed to working with our close ally Germany.”
USA demands fairer burden sharing within NATO
But the American president has long called for a fairer sharing of burdens within NATO and has repeatedly criticized what he sees as a lack of defense spending in Germany. Trump had already brought troops from Germany to Poland into play when President Andrzej Duda visited Washington in June last year.
And former US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, said last August: “It is really insulting to expect that the US taxpayer will continue to pay more than 50,000 Americans in Germany, but the Germans will use their trade surplus for domestic purposes . “
In addition to the approximately 35,000 US soldiers in Germany, there were 17,000 American and 12,000 German civilians employed by the US troops. Tens of thousands more jobs in Germany depend on the American armed forces.
Return carriage for Merkel’s G7 cancellation?
Since the withdrawal plans were largely known except for the strength of the troops to be withdrawn, the question arises as to why the story is coming up again right now. According to observers in Germany, Trump sees that it could be tight for him in the election campaign. That makes him nervous.
The relationship between the federal government and the Trump administration has long been tense anyway. And these tensions are likely to have increased again recently after Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to accept an invitation to a Trump-envisaged G7 summit in June at the White House, in which the heads of state and government should personally attend, because of the corona pandemic. Such an reaction can be expected of an impulsive character like Donald Trump.
In March, the US government canceled the corona pandemic meeting and scheduled a video conference. Trump recently spoke out in favor of holding the meeting in person at the White House – as a sign of recovery in the Corona crisis.
George Floyd: Merkel opposes Trump’s political style
Trump may not have been pleased with the reactions from Germany to his actions in the recent protests after the African American George Floyd was killed in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. On ZDF last Thursday, Merkel said when asked whether Trump played a role in the social division in the United States: “I think that the political style is already a very controversial one.” Society in the United States is very polarized.
CDU chief and Secretary of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had welcomed the fact that her American counterpart Mark Esper had refused to use the military against the demonstrators in the USA and had thus opposed Trump. White House officials changed, the values and strength of civil society remained, she said in a conference of the CDU board.
“We are alarmed”: High-ranking ex-military officers sharply criticize Donald Trump
cba / with dpa