Troops in Germany

President Donald Trump has said he intends to reduce the number of American soldiers in Germany.

Germany, he said, is not meeting its commitment to spend 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense as required by the NATO alliance. Member nations had pledged to reach the 2% threshold by 2024. Germany has said it hopes to reach the target by 2031.

Which is a cynical commitment by Germany, since there will be several generations of German governments over the intervening 11 years.

But here’s the kicker, from Emily Haber, Germany’s Ambassador to the US:

US troops…are not there to defend Germany. They are there to defend the trans-Atlantic security. They are also there to project American power in Africa, in Asia[.]

If that’s true—or if it’s the case that Germany is dictating to us our purpose in keeping troops stationed there (not so outlandish; Germany is, after all a sovereign nation, not a post-war occupied one)—there’s even less reason to keep troops stationed there.

We can defend trans-Atlantic security much more efficiently from any of a number of other European, and Atlantic, nations. We can project power “in Africa” much more efficiently from any of a number of other European, African, Western Asian nations. We can project power “in Asia” much more efficiently from any of a number of Pacific nations.

And we would be doing those power projections much more securely than by putting all of our security eggs in a single German basket.

We also can fulfill our own NATO commitments much more effectively and overtly with those German-stationed troops redeployed to northern and eastern European nations, nations who still care about their own and their mutual defense, nations who still remember an existence under Soviet Russian occupation.

In the end, as I wrote earlier, Germany’s angst has nothing to do with defense—about which the nation seems to have little interest—and has much to do with the potential loss of all of those millions of American dollars spent on the German economy by tens of thousands of American military family members and by the soldiers themselves.

Were Germany interested in anything else, it would meet its voluntarily entered into commitment of 2% of its GDP for defense without any of its…delays.

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