Over the weekend, the news feeds have erupted with a sensation: the US President is going to reduce the American military contingent in Germany.
A move to this effect seems to comply with Donald Trump's long-standing election promises to reduce the US military personnel presence level in other countries so as to save federal budget expenses. However, the possible withdrawal of American troops from Germany is a separate development after all. At that, it is noteworthy that information comes from the American and German media alone, with no quoted speech by Donald Trump himself. It is probably no accident that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is silent about the issue, allegedly considering that in this case it is not up to her to comment on this upcoming sensation or another fake.
At the same time, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was rather cold-blooded to respond to reports that the Americans are going to withdraw about 9,5 thousand military personnel from the territory of Germany, reducing the number of troops permanently stationed there to about 25 thousand people. "We appreciate the cooperation with the US forces that has developed over decades. It is in the interests of both our countries," Maas said, hinting that not everything is working smoothly in their transatlantic partnership. "If it comes to the withdrawal of some of the US troops, we will take note of this," the Minister said calmly.
It is noteworthy that when deciding to withdraw US troops from Germany, Donald Trump didn’t even have the grace to hold preliminary consultations with either the German government or the NATO command. By the way, Trump's plans were a surprise for the Pentagon as well. Thus, all the references to "close cooperation under the transatlantic partnership" can no longer inspire confidence in Washington, Berlin, or Brussels. However, as stated by the Munich Focus online portal, Berlin is used to Donald Trump's "attacks and threats". The US President has chosen Germany as his "favorite enemy" among the NATO partners, and the German government is trying to be as easy on this as possible. However, now Trump "wants to do something that affects the two countries' centerpiece of relations," Focus online writes.
In Germany, it is well known that Donald Trump has a whole list of complaints about Angela Merkel, whom he does not have any particular liking for. By the way, her refusal to fly to Washington for the June G7 summit under the pretext of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in her country was just another moment that could not but irritate Trump. More serious sticking-points are, for instance, Germany's desire to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Merkel's reluctance to sharply increasing contributions to the NATO budget and the US trade deficit in its commodity circulation with Germany. Moreover, Trump constantly threatens to raise import duties on German cars, which may become a severe blow to the German automotive industry. Washington and Berlin do not see eye to eye in relation to Iran either.
Many politicians and military on both sides of the ocean have recognized Trump's plans to withdraw troops as unreasonable at the very least. So deputy chief officer of the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag Johan Vadepul called them another wake-up call urging the Europeans to get a handle on their fate more decisively. According to the German lawmaker, the Trump administration ignores the basic leader obligations of involving commonwealth partners in fundamentally important processes. "I can't see any rational reasons for the withdrawal of US troops. From any point of view, this can only cause considerable regret," head of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee Norbert Rӧttgen said. A different opinion is held by leader of the Left faction in the Bundestag Dietmar Bartsch, who welcomed Trump's plan, saying "let him also take the atomic bombs with him."
In this regard, the capital's Tageszeitung (TAZ) writes that reports of a possible partial withdrawal of American soldiers from Germany are not out of the woods yet. The newspaper recalls that the United States has a very important infrastructure in Germany, using it, among other things, for "destructive wars, like it was with Iraq", as well as for coordinating "the use of combat drones in different parts of the world in violation of international law." Besides, backed by the Bundeswehr and NATO, the Americans have placed nuclear weapons in the territory of Germany, which "is fraught with an atomic war apocalypse". It is also home to the largest American military hospital outside the United States. So, most of the US military contingent and all the expensive infrastructure will probably stay in Germany.
TAZ sees a particular danger in plans to relocate part of the US armed forces from Germany to Poland, i.e. even closer to the Russian borders. Thus, the trend of NATO forces moving eastwards will go on, which inevitably leads to the increased threat of a conflict between the East and the West. If the United States ever decides to deploy combat units or – God forbid! – nuclear weapons in Poland or the Baltic states, one may say good riddance to chances of defusing international tension, the Berlin newspaper writes.