April Roach – Evening Standard July 30, 2020
The president had previously announced his intention to remove a third of 36,000 troops in Germany over claims the country was failing to meet NATO‘s defence spending target of 2 per cent of its GDP.
“We don’t want to be the suckers any more,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.
“We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills; it’s very simple. They’re delinquent.”
The president made the comments as he addressed reporters at the South Lawn on Wednesday before leaving for a day trip to Texas.
He continued: “We spend a lot of money on Germany, they take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage on the military, so we’re reducing the force.
“They’re there to protect Europe, they’re there to protect Germany, and Germany is supposed to pay for it. We don’t want to be responsible anymore.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the plan will cost “single digit” billions of dollars and it will take years to relocate the troops.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney condemned the move as “a grave error” on Twitter.
“It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression,” he said.
“It is a gift to Russia coming at a time when we just have learned of its support for the Taliban and reports of bounties on killing American troops.
“The move may temporarily play well in domestic politics, but its consequences will be lasting and harmful to American interests.”
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder said the move could further weaken the NATO alliance and the US as a country.
He said: “We very much regret the U.S. government’s decision. Unfortunately, this puts a burden on the German-American relationship.”