How and how much is discussed in the United States, Germany and Poland on the announced withdrawal of part of the US military contingent stationed in Germany
The announced withdrawal of part of the US military contingent stationed in Germany (10,000 soldiers out of 35,000) continues to stir the waters of relations between Berlin and Washington. A comparison that does not just fray the ties between two allied countries but involves NATO and its security balances in general and also reverberates on relations and policies of neighboring countries, such as Russia and Poland, the latter in turn engaged in a delicate election round.
Republicans and Democrats against Trump's plan
The German press is following the development of the controversy carefully. And the news today, reported exclusively by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and then quickly rebounded on all other media, is that in the United States a real bipartisan senators' revolt would be underway against Donald Trump's plans. Not only the Democrats, therefore, but also a good part of Republicans intend to oppose by law the withdrawal of US troops from the bases in Germany by inserting, before the go-ahead to the defense budget in the Senate, a budget directive: the use of money public for a withdrawal of the military from any area can only take place if the defense minister assures, with a report to Congress, that the decision is in the national interest of the United States and does not affect the security of a European NATO partner country.
Mitt Romney's staff announced this move. "The withdrawal of US troops from Germany would be a gift to Russia," said the former Republican presidential candidate, "and it's really the last thing we want to do." Among the signatories of the directive there is also Lindsey Graham, a faithful supporter of Trump, notes the Süddeutsche , who then reports the words of the democratic senator Chris Coon: “To repatriate almost 10,000 soldiers from Germany, without having previously discussed them with the German government and with other European allies, it doesn't make America any safer. " The group of signatories believes that the presence of troops on German territory is in the interest of both countries.
Poland's subtle distancing
And also of NATO and Europe, it is believed from this side of the Atlantic. This explains the surprising change of direction made by Polish President Andrzej Duda in his visit to Washington last week. Poland, indicated a few years ago by the geopolitical magazine Limes as standard bearer of American Europe, plays an important role in this game. Duda, who will have to struggle to re-election in the ballot in two weeks with the challenger Rafal Trzaskowski, had everything to gain from the meeting that Trump had granted him a few days after the vote in the first round: a prestigious visit to be played at home with an electorate traditionally US sympathizer.
But, contradicting (European) hopes and (European) fears, the Polish president did not accompany the intention of the White House tenant to relocate part of the contingent in Germany to Poland. "I asked the president not to withdraw any contingents from Europe," Duda said at a press conference after Trump reiterated his intention to cut 10,000 soldiers from Germany plus 17,000 support civilians, "and by that I mean a A united Europe for which the American presence is a huge guarantee ”. In short, Poland is always ready to welcome more American soldiers on its territory, even to appoint the new base "Fort Trump", but does not want this to happen at the expense of the US presence in Germany. More US soldiers in Poland must mean more US soldiers in Europe. For Warsaw, Russia is always too close and US and NATO deterrence essential for its national security.
The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel , always very well informed on the arcane empires of the political district of the capital, had reported the indiscretion of a pressing call to Duda by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, before the Polish president climbed the stairs of the plane that it led to Washington. In fact, NATO and the Pentagon are against Trump's withdrawal plan.
Merkel: rethinking everything if the US no longer wants to be a global power
The US-Germany friction also engages the German internal political debate, also in light of the European presidency semester that Berlin has led since 1 July and which has on the agenda the strengthening of Europe's role in the post-pandemic world.
On the government side, there are the interventions of the two highest institutional representatives on the subject, Angela Merkel and Heiko Maas. In an interview with European newspapers at the end of last week, the chancellor had also addressed the issue of US troops, emphasizing the common interest of the USA, Germany and NATO in keeping soldiers in German bases. He then once again admitted that his government will have to increase his defense budget again and he recalled that spending had grown in the past few years and will still grow in the next. Trump (but before him Obama) have long been calling for Germany to reach the 2% threshold. Merkel, however, had concluded this part of the interview with a less accommodating statement: in the framework of transatlantic relations, Europe has grown in the awareness that the US wanted to be a world power, but if the US were willing to take leave of this role, then we should start a reflection from the ground up.
Germany, mixed voices in the Grosse Koalition
For his part, the foreign minister, in another interview with the press agency Dpa , had mentioned the need to get to work to improve the flawed relations with the United States. Transatlantic ties are "extraordinarily important," said Maas, but "at present they do not correspond to the expectations that exist on both sides of the Atlantic".
The confrontation, however, is not only between Germany and the US but is also internal to Germany. The parties of the Grosse Koalition are indeed on distinct positions. The Social Democrats are shuffling, they do not want to reach 2% of the GDP of military spending at all as promised, claiming that the costs for collateral initiatives in war areas should also be counted. The Bundestag spd group leader Rolf Mützenich arrived in May to request the withdrawal of all American nuclear weapons from German soil. Echoes of anti-Americanism, they relaunch the Christian Democrats, whom Minister Maas, also a Social Democrat, would do well to counter. the CDU remains firm on the 2% target to be achieved within the next three years. too long for Donald Trump.
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/chi-frena-in-europa-e-usa-sul-ritiro-dei-militari-americani-dalla-germania/ on Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:12:23 +0000.