Tensions are on the rise between Germany and the United States.
Fox News reports that German officials are now condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of the country, with one calling it “completely unacceptable.”
“This is completely unacceptable, especially since nobody in Washington thought about informing its NATO ally Germany in advance,” said Peter Beyer, Germany’s coordinator for transatlantic ties.
Heiko Mass, a German Foreign Minister, similarly said that he “regretted” Trump’s decision, while describing the relationship between the United States and Germany as “complicated.”
What’s going on?
It was revealed, just before the weekend, that President Trump approved a plan to withdraw up to 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany. Prior to the order, there were roughly 34,500 American troops in the country. The obvious question is “why now?”
The answer is not entirely a clear one. Some reports, including one from the New York Times, have at least insinuated, if not openly stated, that Trump’s withdrawing of the troops was in response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently informing Trump that she will not be attending the Group of 7 meeting that he is hoping to host sometime in the next month.
Another report by the Wall Street Journal, however, which actually cites a U.S. government official, says that the two are not related. Instead, the official told the Journal that the Trump administration has been considering the move since September.
That this move was under consideration shouldn’t be that surprising, as President Trump has frequently criticized Germany for not raising its defense spending.
A separate official confirmed the withdrawal has long been in the works and stated that Germany didn’t really need the troops, and so, they are going to be sent elsewhere in Europe.
An indignant Germany
As stated, German officials are not happy with the move, and they seem even more upset that they were not notified about the troop withdrawal by the Trump Administration.
Beyer, in a different interview than the one quoted above, stated that “The German-US relationship could be severely affected by such a decision from the US president.”
Indeed, the German-U.S. relationship could be negatively impacted – let’s not forget that Trump and Merkel have not exactly seen eye to eye since Trump took office. The move could also, more generally, affect U.S.-Europe relations, as leaders across the continent may begin to wonder about the U.S.’s commitment to NATO.