Published On: Sat, Jun 6th, 2020

German officials call US troop withdrawal a ‘wake-up call for Europeans’ & chance to loosen ties

While some in the German establishment fumed over the US presumably keeping Berlin uninformed about plans to withdraw thousands of troops, others envisioned it as a chance to loosen ties with their turbulent NATO ally.

Washington didn’t bother to inform Berlin of its intent to redeploy thousands of troops from Germany to other locations, with the news coming out of the blue for the government, German media reported on Saturday. Previously, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that some of the 9,500 service members would be sent to Poland, some to other allied nations, and the rest would eventually return home.

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US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell © Global Look Press / Imago-images.de
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Keeping Germans in the dark is “quite unusual,” but the rationale behind it is easy to recognize, Andreas Nick, a high-ranking member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), said. Everything here suggests “that it was not technical, but a purely politically motivated decision,” he told Deutsche Welle.

Lamenting the move, Nick said US soldiers and their families are “welcome” in Germany.

Dietmar Bartsch, who leads the non-mainstream Left Party, wasn’t as reserved. He fired off a somewhat incendiary tweet, saying the government should thank Washington and lay the groundwork for “a full withdrawal of US soldiers” during talks with the Trump administration.

If it happens, the departing troops “should take the American atomic bombs with them at the same time,” Bartsch added.

His sentiment was somewhat echoed by Johann Wadephul, who co-heads the ruling coalition’s faction in the parliament. Trump and his team are “neglecting a fundamental management task: the involvement of the allies in decision-making processes,” he stated. For him, the news provides an opening to make Europe less dependent on the US.

However, it is a further wake-up call to us Europeans to take our fate more decisively in terms of security policy as well.

The reported redeployment perhaps sheds some light on the discord between Berlin and Washington, with the latter accusing Germany of failing to spend two percent of GDP on defense, as NATO guidelines prescribe. Berlin seemed at first unwilling to bow to the US’ demands but later agreed to increase its military budget.

Poland, by contrast, has already signaled that it would welcome US troops being redeployed from neighboring Germany.

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Poland hopes to host US troops if they are withdrawn from Germany – PM Morawiecki

Moscow, obviously, has not welcomed the idea of a build-up near its western borders. America ramping up its military presence and infrastructure in Eastern Europe only harms security on the continent and prompts Russia to respond in kind, top government officials have argued in recent years.

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