Three years ago, Donald Trump spoke at the NATO summit in Brussels about the "dishonest" distribution of military spending among the members of the alliance. "Bad Germans" earn the most on exports, but do not spend on defense. And he threatened with various punishments.
Indeed, in 2014 it was decided that all partners should allocate 2% of GDP for military needs. The share of defense spending in Germany did not even reach 1.3%. In fact, the Germans never wanted to pay 2%, and at the 2014 summit, even under President Obama, they proposed an increase in defense spending "towards 2%" until 2024. After two years of grueling trench warfare with the Americans, Chancellor Merkel announced that Germany would increase military spending to 1.5% of GDP in 2024 and 2% in 2030. But it did not help. On the economic front, between transatlantic partners, too, sparks all the time. At first, Trump resented that the trade balance between Europe and the United States shows that Europeans are selling more in America than they are buying. German Mercedes and BMWs were an eyesore for the American president. It doesn't matter that both companies manufacture products in the USA and create thousands of jobs. With the fall in oil and gas prices, a new front line opened - Nord Stream 2. The Americans are trying with all their might to prevent the completion of the project. This is understandable - their American liquefied gas is more expensive than pipeline gas. The Germans are resisting, the Americans are pressing. Agreements are replaced by sanctions, then threats, then calls for loyalty to the alliance and the values of the Western world. So far, the Merkel government is not losing ground. But this stubbornness makes the American president terribly nervous.
And now the US Secretary of Defense presented Washington's new contingent reduction plans as a new strategy for the American presence in Europe. This will help strengthen NATO and better contain Russia, Esper said. But his boss in the White House almost simultaneously announced the true reasons for the maneuver: "Germany owes us, she used the United States for years", - Trump wrote. Now he fixes it.
Of the 35,000 troops stationed in Germany, 23,000 will remain in the country. 6400 will return to the US, 5500 will be deployed in other NATO countries. It has already been announced that 1,500 American GIs will continue to serve in Poland, which the Poles are incredibly happy about. First, military bases are economically beneficial. These are new jobs, new infrastructure. Secondly, it is closer contact with the leader of the Western world, which gives the ultra-conservative government of Poland indirect support in European affairs. Polish conservatives and their gray cardinal Kaczynski are not Angela Merkel's best friend with her open-mindedness policy. Poles are much closer to the new American strategy "America first". And between Germany and Poland there is a new topic - the multibillion-dollar compensation that the Poles want to receive for the Second World War. So Trump is very thoughtfully leading his party in Europe - "divide and rule", as the ancient Romans said.
The German media say what the political class of the country does not dare to say: the United States has ceased to be an ally of Germany and see in her and her chancellor a new enemy. Indeed, in addition to the withdrawal of troops, the American administration decided to withdraw all command structures from the country: to move from Germany the headquarters of the European group and special forces to Belgium, and the headquarters of the African group to Italy.
Of course, Germany does not spend the prescribed 2% of GDP, but both Belgium and Italy spend even less: the Belgians do not even reach 1% - 0.93% of GDP, the Italians are doing a little better: their indicator is 1.22%.
Donald Trump, unlike his predecessor President Obama, is not a friend of Angela Merkel at all. He sees herself as a defender of Americans, she stands for an open world. He is more of a businessman, she is an intellectual. For him, publicity is his political self, she refuses to come to the G-7 at Camp David in the midst of the corona epidemic, and such an important informational occasion for the American president disappears during the pre-election period.
Therefore, the Germans perceive the withdrawal of troops as a response. The Americans themselves give a reason to think so. The Defense Department said the withdrawal would begin "in the coming weeks". Nobody believes that. A multi-billion dollar project will take months and years. And if after November 2020, the American president is called not Donald Trump, but Joe Biden, but these plans may very much freeze, they think in Berlin.
There remains one more topic, less known to the general public. In Germany, at the American military base Büchel, according to the Stockholm Peace Institute SIPRI, up to 20 atomic charges are stored. In the event of a conflict, the bombs will be delivered to the target by German pilots. Their use will require the consent of the Chancellor. This strategy was developed during the Cold War. In May, a debate erupted in the Bundestag over whether Germany needed nuclear weapons. Compared to 1,750 US and 1,600 Russian nuclear weapons, 20 bombs are a drop in the ocean. But the political class was divided, regardless of party affiliation. The CDU / CSU faction speaks of the "ultimatum security guarantee" that Europe needs. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Social Democrat Heiko Maas believes that nuclear weapons on the territory of Germany allow her to remain in the circle of the elect and influence the disarmament processes.
Hans Christensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, objected: “Who listened to Germany and when? Give the examples. I do not know such". And he names several treaties that the American allies canceled without even asking other NATO members: the Iranian nuclear agreement, the treaty on the destruction of ground-based short- and medium-range nuclear missiles, the Open Skies treaty. Christensen says", -Americans really don't care about the opinions of their allies".
Security experts say nuclear weapons as a deterrent are the wrong answer to threats from Russia. Ulrich Kühn of the Hamburg Institute for Peace and Security Policy Research believes that there is a need to respond at very different levels: “The level of threats from Russia is much higher in the field of conventional weapons. For example, in the Baltic, Russia is significantly superior to NATO in them. " Experts see how the United States seeks to independently determine its nuclear strategy, without asking anyone. Since the end of 2019, the Americans have equipped their submarines with missiles with "small" nuclear warheads. This is recorded in the new American nuclear concept: "The use of nuclear weapons for deterrence does not require the consent or participation of the third countries where it is located", - recorded in the Nuclear Posture Review, a program adopted in 2018.
Experts demand that politicians not debate the costs of new aircraft carrying atomic bombs, but return to the key questions - whether Germany needs nuclear weapons. Possibility of error, accident, or intentional use. If in the first act the gun weighs on the wall, then in the third it will shoot, experts are convinced.