US-Germany conflict: Dire threat to Europe and US

Author : Zeitung Die Welt

Source : Die Welt

Donald Trump, who is about to withdraw US troops, reproaches Germany for not complying with the agreement on defense spending
18:43, 3 August 2020

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Donald Trump, who is about to withdraw US troops, reproaches Germany for not complying with the agreement with the United States on defense spending. This argument is reasonable, but the US president harms his own interests in revenge on Germany.

It is easy to lose your patience when talking to a Germany that has completely forgotten its security interests. Despite long-standing promises and a dramatically changed situation in Europe, the German government has done nothing in recent years to fill the gap between real military spending and agreements within NATO, according to which they should account for 2% of the GDP of each country - a member of the alliance...

Related: Germany calls on U.S. authorities not to withdraw troops

Instead, Berlin, despite opposition from America and its own European partners, stubbornly continues to participate in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, although this increases the continent's geostrategic dependence on Russia. All this, coupled with the very conditional combat readiness of the Bundeswehr, speaks of Germany's amazing inability to admit that threats in Europe have grown - and to confront them.

After several years of criticism from Washington, which Berlin ignored, Donald Trump decided to act and announced that almost 12,000 US soldiers would be withdrawn from Germany. Half of them will return to the US, and the rest will be transferred to other European countries, primarily Italy and Belgium. He justified the decision by the stubborn unwillingness of the Germans to contribute to NATO's combat capability, fulfilling the agreement on military spending at the level of 2% of GDP.

Related: Germany not to change its position on Nord Stream 2

Trump's frustration is understandable, but his argument is not very compelling. After all, Belgium, for example, spends in percentage terms even fewer funds than Germany, and Rome, no less stubbornly than Berlin, refuses to increase military spending. Thus, we are talking less about "loyalty to the principles" of Trump, and more about the intention to punish the German government.

On the whole, it can hardly be said that the withdrawal of American troops makes sense. It will harm the security interests of Europe, and the United States itself, because the reduction of the American military presence will reduce the deterrent effect of NATO, for example, in relation to Russia. In addition, Germany is the main logistics hub for the transfer of troops to Eastern Europe in the event of an attack from Russia.

Related: Germany’s MFA expects EU to prepare for dialogue on strategic relations with Russia

In addition, Trump's decision will be costly for American taxpayers: after all, Germany plays an important role in logistics and in the transfer of troops to the Middle East and Africa. The main command of the troops in Africa is located in Stuttgart, and now it will also have to be moved to another location.

At the same time, a significant part of American weapons on German territory has been modernized over the past two decades - it cost billions and billions of dollars. So it is pointless, succumbing to such truly childish whims, to spend huge amounts of money on the creation of new military bases.

Certainly, in many ways, Germany is acting irresponsibly in the field of security, settling comfortably at the expense of the Americans. But Germany will not begin to act more responsibly because the Americans will irrationally comply with the “Yankee, go home!” Demand, made by some forces that have been helping Moscow for decades and seeking to reduce NATO's defenses. So in security matters, “two negatives make an affirmative” rule would not work.

Related: Five NATO ships enter Odesa port

The US withdrawal reflects the severity of the conflict between Berlin and Washington. Donald Trump played an important role in this, endlessly making claims to the Germans and demonstrating his dissatisfaction with the policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At the same time, in recent years, the federal government has really not taken any steps towards Washington, but it has important arguments in its favor, in particular, in the context of military spending and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The ruling coalition thereby caused great harm to the national interests of Germany. After all, it acts by ignoring the main thing in German-American relations - namely, the asymmetric balance of forces. Germany is simply more dependent on the US for European security than the US on Germany is. So “just ignoring” (the US interests) was a bad idea.

Related: Moscow complains about NATO military exercises

Now Trump has decided to take revenge, making everyone losers. This is how this transatlantic tragedy works.

Clemens Wergin

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