President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would cut the amount folks troops in Germany to 25,000, claiming the country had did not meet NATO’s defence spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the us on trade.
The reduction of about 9,500 troops would be an interesting rebuke to at least one of the US’s closest allies and trading partners and undermine a pillar of post-war European security: that US forces would help defend alliance members against Russian aggression.
It was not clear whether Trump would be ready to carry through on his plan, which first emerged in media reports on June 5, given criticism from a number of the president’s fellow Republicans in Congress who have argued a cut would be a present to Russia.
Speaking to reporters, Trump accused Germany of being “delinquent” in its payments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and pledged to stay with the plan unless Berlin changed course.
“So, we’re protecting Germany, and they are delinquent. that does not add up . So, I said, ‘we’re getting to bring down the count to 25,000 soldiers,'” Trump said, adding that “they treat us very badly on trade” but providing no details.
In 2014, NATO set a target that every of its 30 members should spend 2 percent of GDP on defence. Most, including Germany, do not.
Plan triggers unease
Trump’s remarks were the primary official confirmation of the planned troop cut, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed to Reuters by a senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
That official said it stemmed from months of labor by the US military and had nothing to try to to with simmering tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who recently declined the president’s invitation for an in-person summit of the G7 nations.
Asked about Trump’s statement, German Ambassador to the us Emily Haber said US soldiers were in Europe to defend transatlantic security and in an appointment that also benefitted the us .
“This is about transatlantic security but also about American security,” she told a virtual think-tank audience, saying US-German security cooperation would remain strong, which her government had been informed of the choice .
Last week, sources told Reuters that German officials also variety folks officials at the White House, State Department and Pentagon were surprised by the Wall Street Journal report and that they offered explanations starting from Trump’s pique over the G7 to the influence of Richard Grenell, the previous US ambassador to Germany and a Trump loyalist.
“There is certain to be significant bipartisan opposition to the present move in Congress, so it’s possible any actual moves are significantly delayed or maybe never implemented,” said Phil Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.
“This move will further erode allies’ faith in NATO and US defense guarantees,” Gordon added, saying it’s going to also “weaken the deterrence of Russia or anyone else who might threaten a NATO member.”