Trump faces Republican revolt on order to withdraw troops from Germany

Six Republican members of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday asked Donald Trump to reconsider his order to dramatically reduce the presence of US troops in Germany, warning that the follow-up “will jeopardize the national security of the United States” and It will embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is not the time to take any action that can make the Putin regime question the credibility of NATO’s deterrent or lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the United States’ commitment to our collective security.” they wrote.

The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, was chaired by Michael McCaul, a Texas representative and the top Republican on the committee, and Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois representative and the top Republican on the European Affairs subcommittee and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard. Republican representatives Ann Wagner of Missouri, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and John Curtis of Utah also signed.

Falcons in both houses of Congress have tried to pull Trump out of what many see privately as a repudiation of the hallmark of Republican foreign policy since World War II, a betrayal of the transatlantic alliance, and another strategic gift to Putin. The day comes for the publication of the book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who depicts a Kremlin-friendly but wobbly president toward Western European allies.

Republicans in Congress may distance themselves from Trump as the November election draws near, especially if their position doesn’t improve markedly. Recent polls, nationally and in battlefield states, have shown that Trump is losing support. Republican strategists privately fear that the president’s current position endangers his majority in the Senate and makes it nearly impossible to win back the House.

Trump approved a plan this month to permanently withdraw up to a third of approximately 34,500 German-based U.S. troops, reducing the total to no more than 25,000. Defense Department officials are working on a plan to implement the directive, which was signed by national security adviser Robert O’Brien. The Germans have not yet been officially notified.

The top Democrats in Congress are as upset and vocal as their Republican counterparts. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, who was trying to fend off a strong primary challenge on Tuesday, said in a statement that he is working with colleagues “on both sides of the aisle” to see what they can do. do legislatively “to reverse the decision.” Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Trump’s order “mean and absurd,” as well as “another favor for Putin.”

Aides to Congress in the two main political parties speculate that there will be an effort to insert the language into the defense reauthorization bill to make it difficult to move troops from Germany.

The move to withdraw troops from Germany had been under consideration in the administration for months, pushed internally by former Berlin Ambassador Richard Grenell, according to administration sources, but Trump made the announcement this month in part by pique after the chancellor. Angela Merkel declined to attend a G7 in-person summit that Trump wanted to hold in Washington this month.

Ms Merkel expressed public health concern about all the world leaders gathered in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with such a high number of infections in the United States, forcing the meeting to be canceled and weakening the narrative of Trump that the country is ready to “reopen”.

Trump’s public justification for withdrawing troops is that Germany has been a “criminal” in defense spending. Republican signatories on the Foreign Affairs letter praise Trump for pressuring NATO members to spend more on his defense, saying that Germany should increase defense spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product, compared with 1.3 percent from last year.

“However, we fear that this partial withdrawal of the United States from Germany will fail to convince Berlin to spend more, while jeopardizing the strategic interests of the United States,” they wrote. “Our adversaries understand that the American alliance network is at the center of the United States’ comparative advantage and will seek to exploit any gaps in transatlantic ties. Therefore, we are concerned that many of our allies have not been consulted on the replenishment of American force.

“To ensure that free and open societies triumph over the Vladimir Putin regime and the Chinese Communist Party, the United States must continue to build and maintain a united coalition of like-minded allies. The withdrawal of thousands of troops from Germany will only complicate this crucial effort and, in turn, jeopardize the national security of the United States. “

Conservatives explain that the goal of the American presence has never been primarily to protect Germany. It has always been about promoting American interests and projecting American power. For 75 years, there has been a bipartisan consensus in Washington that a large troop presence there was beneficial.

The US Army Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. USA In Germany, she cares for wounded US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stuttgart, Germany is home to the United States African Command, which focuses not only on counterterrorism but also on controlling Russian and Chinese expansionism on that continent.

This new appeal follows a letter to Mr. Trump from 22 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, led by high-ranking member Mac Thornberry of Texas. “We believe such steps would significantly harm the national security of the US and strengthen Russia’s position to our detriment,” they wrote. “In Europe, the threats posed by Russia have not diminished, and we believe that signs of a weakened commitment by the United States to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism.”

Republican Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said pulling American troops out of Germany is such a terrible idea that he can’t believe Trump will. He blamed Mr. O’Brien for it and also complained that he was not alerted in advance. Trump “has a passionate love for our troops and would do nothing that would impose excruciating hardship on our troops,” Inhofe told Politico.

The highest-ranking member of the Republican House of Representatives to publicly punish Trump’s move as “a grave mistake” is Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the Republican House number three and a hawk in her father’s tradition, former Vice President Dick Cheney. “Withdrawing our forces and abandoning our allies would have dire consequences, emboldening our adversaries and making war more, not less likely,” Cheney said in a statement after signing the Thornberry letter.

The Washington Post