However, the relationship, especially if Trump is re-elected later this year, is in freefall, an unknown destination.
His decision, if his tweets have been properly divided, seems to be to punish Germany.
“Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for energy and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What is it about?” Trump wrote in a post.
“Also, Germany is very criminal in its 2% share in NATO. So we are moving some troops out of Germany!”
The head of the German parliament’s foreign relations committee, Norbert Roettgen, responded on Twitter on Wednesday, saying: “Instead of strengthening #NATO, the alliance will be weakened. US military behavior will not increase, but will decrease in relation with Russia and the Middle East. “
The governor of the state of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, whose region hosts several US bases, also criticized Trump: “Unfortunately this seriously harms German-American relations. You can’t see a military benefit. It weakens the military. ‘NATO and the US itself’.
It is no surprise, then, that the Kremlin is carefully exploiting Europe’s dismay, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN: “We never hid it. [we think] the fewer American soldiers there are on the European continent, the quieter it is in Europe. “
Trump is the gift he continues to give for the Kremlin: his unpredictability, while often a pain, for them is a continual indictment of his propaganda mill.
Roosevelt and other leaders of his generation witnessed the worst of times when the great powers clashed, driven by a few evil self-sufficient men; Assuming Trump is not entirely ignorant, he has chosen to ignore this obvious fact.
The problem for NATO and other American allies is that there seems to be little that can stop Trump from his impulses. Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed the president’s words by saying “Germany is the richest country in Europe. Germany can and should pay more for its defense.”
Esper spoke of “a strategic disposition” as some troops could move to Poland and others could end up in the tiny Baltic states. And Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s optimistic perennial secretary general, said that “the United States had consulted closely with all NATO allies before today’s announcement,” although German officials showed their surprise when they found out about the possible attack a month ago.
Stoltenberg has fought a persistent backlash against Trump’s push to withdraw from NATO since the U.S. president took office in January 2017. As recently as the last meeting of the leaders of the United States. NATO in Luton, England, in December 2019, Stoltenberg let Trump blow his own trumpet announcing the increase in spending commitments in defense of the GDP he had made by members of the alliance.
He is still trying to save the day, alleging rather that Trump’s decision “underscores the United States’ continued commitment to NATO and European security.”
The reality is that Trump has rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the outset and not just on the defense spending commitment in defense of 1.38% of GDP in Germany, but on BMW car exports and trade Generally. At his first meeting in the White House in the spring of 2017, the president barely looked Merkel in the eye, refusing to shake her hand; at a NATO summit in 2018 he applauded her over breakfast. And now that.
Ironically, Trump’s generals are moving European command of the U.S. military, EUCOM, from Germany to NATO-based Brussels to “improve EUCOM’s operational flexibility,” according to the commander of EUECOM, Tom Wolters, despite the clear deficit of NATO contribution; at 0.93% it is even lower than in Germany.
Whatever Trump’s motive, whether it’s a petulance or, in fact, a strategic pivot for Asia, as Esper has explained in recent weeks, reality leaves allies battered and counteracts the long-term benefit of the United States; Now European countries must look to themselves in defense – not for a quick fix, but as a major strategic change.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said it was a “pity” that Trump pulled troops out of Germany and added, “I want us to finally move faster towards a common European security and defense policy.”
Trump hasn’t made a common European defense deal happen overnight, but he’s compressed the wait until there is one, and none of that is good for America right now.
As Trump seeks friends to bolster his sanctions on China and Iran, a less crowded and more furious Europe will seek relationships that fit his trade and national security interests. And they may not always fit in with the United States
At the same time, it is empowering Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strategic enemy who is already on the offensive, while at the same time disabling vital allies in the same struggle. This is a double goal of his own, typical of a president of the United States who insists on playing by his own rules.
If the Covid-19 pandemic, which seems to be making the clock on its presidency, can’t teach it that sometimes convention responses have answers, it’s unlikely to backfire on the 12,000 troops.
Perhaps a new U.S. president will be elected this November with enough time and persuasive powers to repair the rupture Trump has caused with his country’s allies. It won’t be easy, as Trump’s confidence deficit is exacerbated by everyone who was on his side.
From this side of the Atlantic, it looks like Trump is heading for a non-stop trip to the waters, ignoring the well-posted weather warnings.