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30 Jul, 2020 13:28

It has ‘never been an alliance of equals,’ CDU party member & economist tells RT amid US plan to relocate troops from Germany

It has ‘never been an alliance of equals,’ CDU party member & economist tells RT amid US plan to relocate troops from Germany

The presence of US troops remains a contentious issue in Germany, and their planned relocation could prompt Berlin to rethink the country’s defense strategy, an economist and member of Merkel’s ruling party told RT.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced a plan to pull nearly 12,000 soldiers out of Germany, cutting the American force stationed there by a third. US President Donald Trump has frequently chided its NATO ally for not paying a “fair share” in defense spending.

Max Otte, an economist and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union, told RT that the issue is not only about the money. The scaling down of the US military presence in Germany is a populist move “in a sense that Trump knows this goes well with his electorate.” Otte suggested the money is “just a symbol,” before noting that the reduction of American boots of the ground will be “significant” for Germany.

Politicians in Berlin were predictably outraged by Trump’s decision. The government’s NATO coordinator, Peter Beyer, argued that the withdrawal of US troops goes against Germany’s security interests, and would “make no geopolitical sense” for the US either.

Also on rt.com Trump says US won’t protect Germany as it ‘pays Russia billions for energy’ in 1st tweet after Pentagon announces troop withdrawal

Otte said the presence of foreign troops is a “contentious issue” among the Germans.

Political elites and also corporate elites mostly think that we should keep it the way it is. But there is a significant stream in the German public that would say ‘let’s reduce it.’

The economist pointed out that such sentiment is particularly strong in Germany’s eastern lands, which were part of the Soviet Bloc prior to reunification.

“In the east of Germany – the former GDR – most people would say ‘let’s withdraw NATO [forces], let’s do it ourselves.’… The country is divided on that issue,” Otte said.

German politicians have grown equally irritated with Trump’s rhetoric in recent years. Earlier this month, Merkel stated it is “no longer self-evident” that the US would defend the EU.

Also on rt.com Berlin says US ‘weakening NATO’ & shooting itself in the foot as 12,000 troops set to withdraw from Germany

In the same sense, Otte believes that the withdrawal of American forces could play a positive role, by triggering “deep thoughts” in reevaluating Germany’s military and security strategy.

[US-German relations] have never been an alliance of equals. But now, of course, it’s being turned and twisted into different directions, and people try to cling on to old structures for the lack of imagination or, maybe, the fear of the unknown. 

According to the Pentagon, a sizable portion of the soldiers leaving Germany will be relocated to other NATO member states, including Belgium, Italy and Poland. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak welcomed the news, saying that the “most important land forces command” of American troops in Europe will be established in the country.

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