While US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he is withdrawing US troops from Germany to punish the Germans for buying gas from Russia and for not contributing enough to NATO, a survey of public opinion has showed that – in stark contrast to their politicians – many German people are in favour of reducing the US military footprint in the country.
Shortly after the decision was announced Trump reiterated that it was a punitive measure intended to castigate Germany for not reneging on the Nordstream 2 gas project and for underspending on the military (and, presumably, for not subsidizing US-based weapons manufacturers):
Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2% fee to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
But far from being seen as a threat, a YouGov poll for the dpa news agency found that more Germans are in favour of the departure of the 35,000-strong US military occupation force than are opposed to the move.
42 per cent said they supported withdrawal while just 37 per cent wanted the soldiers to stay, with 21 per cent undecided.
The idea of a US military withdrawal enjoys significant support from across the political spectrum in Germany but is particularly strong with the supporters of certain parties.
Voters for the left-wing Die Linke were particularly in favour of withdrawal, with 67 per cent backing the idea, as were supporters of the far-right AfD, on 55 per cent. Greens also back withdrawal by 48 per cent.
Voters for the centre-right were generally less supportive of withdrawal, with 35 per cent of CDU voters, the SPD at 42 per cent, and the FDP at 37 per cent.
The same poll also found significant opposition to militarism in general in the country. Just 15 per cent of all Germans agree with Angela Merkel that the country should increase its military spending to 2 per cent of GDP by 2024, with 36 per cent saying the country already spends too much on its military.
US troops have been stationed in Germany since they occupied the country in the aftermath of the Second World War, constituting the second largest US overseas military presence after Japan, which has also been the subject of a massive permanent US military occupation since the mid-1940s. If the drawdown in Germany is taken to its conclusion, South Korea will have the dubious distinction of hosting the second largest foreign US military presence worldwide.
There are between 30 and 40 US military bases in Germany, a significant reduction from the 200-300 that were located there until the end of the Cold War. LINK
The views of the German public on the issue are in sharp contrast with those of the country’s politicians. Five out of six parliamentary groups in the Bundestag have been opposing the withdrawal, with only the Left Party saying that the permanent US military presence must be terminated completely.
“Instead of strengthening NATO, it’s going to weaken the alliance,” Norbert Rottgen, who stands to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel at the helm of the Christian Democrats Union, said of the US move. The leader of the Christian Social Union, Markus Soder, also warned that the redeployment of US troops out of Germany “puts a burden on the German-American relationship.”
Last week, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that the Pentagon would withdraw almost 12,000 troops from Germany, which was a significant increase from the initially planned number of 9,500. LINK
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- NATO 2020 a coalition of the unwilling
- Pro-NATO propagandists fuel protests in United States
- Apocalypse soon? US still scrambling and surging to develop new high tech weapons systems