Report on Trump Ordering Troop Withdrawal from Germany Causes Firestorm
June 7, 2020 (EIRNS)—The reports that President Donald Trump has ordered the reduction of U.S. troops in Germany by 9,500 appears to have created a firestorm, at least among the German conservatives in the Christian Democracy allied with Chancellor Angela Merkel. For Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a Social Democrat, it’s just complicated. “Should it come to the withdrawal of part of the U.S. troops, we take note of this. We appreciate the cooperation with the U.S. forces that has developed over decades. It is in the interests of both our countries,” Maas told today’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, reported Reuters. Maas acknowledged problems in Germany’s relationship with the United States: “We are close partners in the trans-Atlantic Alliance. But: It is complicated.”
According to Bloomberg Business News, which headlined its coverage “Trump’s Troop Plan Stuns Germany and Rocks the Postwar Order,” Germany’s conservatives are particularly perturbed. “These plans demonstrate once again that the Trump Administration neglects a central element of leadership: the involvement of alliance partners in the decision-making process,” Johann Wadephul, deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU caucus in the Bundestag, said in an email statement. “Everyone gains from the Alliance being united, only Russia and China gain from strife,” he claimed. CDU Bundestag member Norbert Röttgen told a German media outlet that a troop withdrawal would be “very regrettable.” Röttgen, who chairs Bundestag foreign policy committee, said he couldn’t see “any factual reason for the withdrawal.”
According to Politico Europe, the White House still has not confirmed the plan, nor has there been any indication that NATO had been briefed on a plan. “While we have no announcements at this time, as commander in chief, President Trump continually reassesses the best posture for the United States military forces and our presence overseas,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot. “The United States remains committed to working with our strong ally Germany to ensure our mutual defense, as well as on many other important issues.”
Der Spiegel called Trump’s move “a provocation,” and clearly the war party in the U.S. is provoked, although no statement has been made by the White House nor the Defense Department. Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Politico that the withdrawal of troops was not justified by strategic thinking or analysis. “I believe this is a colossal mistake,” said Hodges. “This is purely political.”
Hodges said that the move had caught virtually everyone by surprise and that Russia would be a main beneficiary of the withdrawal—and that a softening of U.S. posture was hardly justified. “The Kremlin has done nothing to deserve a gift like this,” he charged. “No change in behavior in Ukraine or Syria or along NATO’s eastern flank or in the Black Sea or Georgia, Yet they get a 28% reduction in the size of U.S. military capability that was a core part of NATO’s deterrence.” Does that mean Hodges believes that there’s now a 28% greater chance that Russia will invade Poland and the Baltic states?