Four German state leaders have written a letter to American congressmen in an attempt to block American-troop withdrawal from Germany. In June, President Trump made plans to pull 9,500 troops from Germany, likely due to his frustration with Germany’s trade surplus as well as Berlin’s failure to meet NATO’s commitments on defense spending.
The letter, seen by Reuters and sent by the Premiers of Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Rhineland-Palatinate, urged U.S lawmakers “to support us as we strive not to sever the bond of friendship but to strengthen it, and to secure the U.S. presence in Germany and Europe in the future.” All of these southern states have had major U.S troop bases since the end of World War II. The letter was addressed to 13 members of Congress, including Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Chris Coons of Delaware.
The letter goes on to describe the importance of U.S troops in Germany, as they “form the backbone of the US presence in Europe and NATO’s ability to act.” Washington disagrees, stating last month that removing the troops would “enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure Allies.”
Romney and Coons have been involved in an amendment to the 2021 defense spending bill in June, attempting to limit the use of funds to reduce the U.S troop presence in Germany. About the plan, Romney said that “The withdrawal of U.S troops from Germany would be a gift to Russia, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.”
President Trump, meanwhile, has promised “some” of the 9,500 withdrawn troops to Poland. In late June, he signed a defense cooperation agreement with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Duda has been pushing for more troops in order to protect Poland from Russian aggression, and has even requested a permanent U.S military base in Poland with an offer to name the base “For Trump.” Poland has grown wary of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, particularly after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.
Although the withdrawal of troops may seem like a change for the better, it is assuredly not. One needs only to look at the reasoning behind the withdrawal to understand this. It is not a strategic move to better deter Russia from potentially invading Europe nor to move troops to a more vulnerable place, but a punishment for Germany, to make the country more vulnerable due to its failures to act according to Trump’s wishes.
As the Premiers stated in their letter, these troops serve as a deterrent to Russia, preventing them from exerting their control over Europe. They are not expected to fight, but instead exist as a barrier to make countries reconsider to take aggressive measures. Without the presence of these troops, an invasion would be a war with Germany and with America as an ally if America decided this war was worth the cost. The presence of these troops in Germany thus increases the chances of maintaining peace in the area.
Although moving troops into Poland may work to deter Russian aggression, it should not occur at the cost of Germany’s safety. To make the matter worse, Trump’s wording on the topic is vague as he has only promised “some” of the 9,500 troops to Poland. What will happen to the rest of the troops? This apparent punishment for Germany is childish and dangerous.
This troop withdrawal is not a decision made with careful deliberation or out of any strategic planning, but instead is a punishment for a country not doing as another country wishes, and could potentially allow a war to occur. If the US does not want another global tragedy on its hands, it should block this troop withdrawal as quickly as possible and allow as many of these 9,500 troops to remain in Germany while also keeping the defense cooperation agreement with Poland.
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