The report now, however, particularly if Trump will be re-elected later this year, is in freefall, an unknown destination.
His decision, if his tweets were properly divided, seems to punish Germany.
“Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for energy, and we should protect Germany from Russia. What is it about?”
“Furthermore, Germany is very delinquent in paying 2% to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!”
The head of the German Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, Norbert Roettgen, responded on Wednesday on Twitter, saying: “Instead of strengthening #NATO it will weaken the alliance. The US military weight will not increase, but will decrease in relation to Russia and to the Near and Middle East “.
Bavarian state governor Markus Soeder, whose region is home to several US bases, also criticized Trump: “Unfortunately this seriously damages German-American relations. A military advantage cannot be seen. It weakens NATO and the United States itself.” .
It is therefore not surprising that the Kremlin is happily exploiting Europe’s dismay, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying to CNN: “We never hid it [we think] the less American welds there are in the European continent, the calmer it is in Europe. “
Trump is the gift he continues to give for the Kremlin: its unpredictability, although often a pain, for them is a constant aid for their propaganda mill.
Roosevelt and other leaders of his generation have witnessed the worst of the times when the great powers collided, driven by some evil men possessed by themselves; assuming that Trump is not completely ignorant, he has chosen to ignore this obvious fact.
The problem for NATO and America’s other allies is that there seems little that can hold Trump back from his impulses. Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed the President’s words saying “Germany is the richest country in Europe. Germany can and should pay more for its defense.”
Esper spoke of a “strategic plan” as some troops could move to Poland and others could end up in the small Baltic states. And Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s perpetually optimistic secretary-general, said that “the United States had consulted closely with all NATO allies before today’s announcement” – although German officials expressed surprise when they learned about the first time of the possible killing a month ago.
Stoltenberg has fought persistent rearguard action against Trump’s impulses to free himself from NATO since the President of the United States took office in January 2017. Recently, during the last meeting of NATO leaders in Luton, England, in December 2019 Stoltenberg let Trump blow his trumpet by announcing an increase in spending commitments for the defense of GDP that he had made by alliance members.
He is still trying to save the situation now, arguing rather with hope that Trump’s decision “underscores the United States’ continued commitment to NATO and European security.”
The reality is that Trump has been bullied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the outset, and not just on Germany’s sub-par defense spending commitment of 1.38% of GDP, but on BMW car exports and trade in general. At their first meeting in the White House in spring 2017, the President barely looked Merkel in the eye, refusing to shake her hand; at a NATO summit in 2018 he scolded her for breakfast. And now this.
Ironically, Trump’s generals are moving the US Army’s European command, EUCOM, from Germany to Brussels, NATO headquarters, to “improve EUCOM’s operational flexibility”, according to EUCOM commander Tom Wolters – despite the evident deficit in the contribution of NATO by Belgium; 0.93% is also lower than the German one.
Whatever Trump’s motive may be, whether it’s petulance or even a strategic pivot for Asia, as Esper explained in recent weeks, the reality leaves the allies perplexed and goes against the long-term benefit of the United States; now those European countries must look for themselves for defense, not for a quick solution, but as an important strategic change.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said it was a “shame” that Trump is pulling troops from Germany, adding: “I want us to finally move faster towards a common European security and defense policy”.
Trump did not provoke a common European defense agreement overnight, but it has compressed the wait until there is one, and none of this is good for America right now.
While Trump is looking for friends to strengthen his sanctions against China and Iran, a less restrained and more agitated Europe will seek to establish appropriate relationships for its national security and commercial interests. And those may not always align with American ones.
At the same time, he is enabling Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strategic enemy who is already offensive, while disabling vital allies in that same struggle. It is a dual personal goal, typical of a President of the United States who insists on playing by his own rules.
If the Covid-19 pandemic, which appears to bring down the stopwatch during his presidency, cannot teach him that sometimes the convention has the answers, there is little chance that he will reverse course on the 12,000 troops.
Perhaps a new American president will be elected in November with enough time and persuasive powers to repair the fracture that Trump has caused with his country’s allies. It will not be easy, given that Trump’s confidence deficit is aggravated by everyone who was at his side.
On this side of the Atlantic, it appears that Trump is heading off on a journey into uncharted waters, ignoring the well-publicized warnings of stormy weather.