Sunday, August 23, 2020

Do We Have a Germany Problem?

I was going to open this reflection on Victor Davis Hanson’s essay on the Trump administration redeployment of American troops out of Germany with a cliche-- great minds think alike. After all, I expressed theories fully in line with Hanson’s several weeks ago. We even used similar titles, etc.

But, if great minds think alike, what can we say about mini-minds? What can we say about the mini minds of the American foreign policy establishment. You know, the mini minds who ran out en masse to support Hillary Clinton in 2016. Since Hillary had never been anything more than an incompetent fraud, you can understand why they preferred her. Now, they are all, especially the Republican variety, lining up to denounce Donald Trump by supporting Crazy Joe Biden. 

One can find both good and bad in the Trump handling of foreign policy. For instance, I see no problem with moving troops out of Germany. I think that the Trump policy in the Middle East has been excellent and successful. Undoing the Iran Nuclear deal must count as a great achievement. And yet, when it comes to China policy, assuming that it is not election year posturing, the Trump administration has gone seriously off the tracks. So, I agree with David Goldman on that aspect of policy.

Anyway, the mini minds of the Republican foreign policy establishment has lined up to support Joe Biden, because they have most likely not spoken to Crazy Joe in ages. To support a man who has serious cerebral deficiencies disqualifies them to offer opinions on much of anything.

Anyway, here is Hanson on the Trump policy toward Germany:

German chancellor Angela Merkel is said to be furious. She claims that the redeployments will “weaken the [NATO] alliance.” German commercial interests chimed in that the troop withdrawals will hurt their decades-old businesses serving U.S. bases.

Perhaps, but Merkel surely cannot be surprised. Six years ago, all NATO members pledged to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Yet only eight of 29 so far have kept their word.

Germany spends only about 1.4 percent of its GDP on defense. As NATO’s largest, wealthiest, and most powerful European member, it sets the example for the rest of alliance.

Merkel’s reneging on her 2014 pledge helps explain why less wealthy and influential NATO members also see no reason to meet their obligations.

Many foreign policy gurus are wringing their crying towels over the fact that the Trump administration does not treat Germany like an ally. If they had a few more functioning little gray cells they might have asked why Germany does not act like an ally, why it is acting like a freeloader, exploiting America:

Moreover, the Merkel government has concluded, over American objections, a huge natural-gas deal with Russia that is currently under some U.S. sanctions and short of cash.

Russian energy exports to Germany are said to earn Russia $10 billion a year, with a likely doubling of that income once additional pipelines to Germany are completed.

Merkel likes to lecture the world on moral issues, but what is so noble about empowering Russian president Vladimir Putin, who recently reclaimed Crimea and seems now to be eyeing Belarus?

Guess what, the next time little Germany, whose tank force is now comprised of reconditioned Volkswagen busses-- no kidding-- has a problem with the Russian bear, they should not call on America to bail them out. They should call France, where the people still have somewhat mixed feelings about Germany.

And besides, Germans are anti-American. For the most part they do not want American troops on their soil. Perhaps it reminds them of their inglorious past. But, Germany still runs a very large trade surplus with America:

In recent polling, Germans were more anti-American than any other nation in Europe. And while about 75 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. still has a good relationship with Germany, only about a third of Germans feel that way about the U.S. In some polls, nearly half the German population wants American troops out.

Note that Germany piles up the largest annual trade surplus with the U.S. of any nation in Europe — roughly $55 billion to $70 billion in most years. The Trump administration says the surpluses have grown in large part due to asymmetry in tariffs and duties, with Germany the far more protectionist of the two partners.

As I said in my post, Auf Wiedersehen, Angela.

Hanson concludes:

With Germany now united, rich, and often angry, and with the Soviet threat largely over, it’s Germany, not the U.S., that seems to have altered its view of this once-solid relationship.

Does Merkel really believe that if her nation cuts huge deals with NATO’s historically greatest threat, polls as the most anti-American country in Europe, and continues refusing to honor its promises to increase defense spending, Germany still deserves a large American commitment of 36,000 troops to anchor its defense?


whitney said...

"To support a man who has serious cerebral deficiencies disqualifies them to offer opinions on much of anything."

Succinct and correct. All the people I know of the that would vote for him are also holed up in their house and terrified. It really is remarkable what separate worlds we now inhabit

urbane legend said...

Let Angela, German businesses, and France have a little tea party, and eat cake together.

Sam L. said...

Angela WAS from EAST Germany. She's apparently never gotten out from under the Russian Boots. I'm all for Trump moving our military from Germany into Poland.

Janszoon said...

Englishman here. That which you’ve been considering here is what, until comparatively recently, was referred to here as the ‘post war order’ i.e. reconstruction era Europe under the financial and military patronage of the US. However, that war - and memories of it - are no longer part of the warp and weft of everyday life, and as with all things they have now passed into the history books. It is thus totally unrealistic for the European nations to expect that order to carry on unchanged forever with no further discussion; every arrangement needs reconsideration and renegotiation periodically. It’s utterly ludicrous for the Germany of 2020 to just expect, as it’s unquestioned right, the same arrangements as were received by the Germany of 1945. If they value the relationship with the US, they need to start acting (and spending) as though they do.

On a tangential note, it infuriated me that during the run-up to the Brexit vote in 2016, so many people claimed, unchallenged, that it was the EU that had kept Europe at peace since 1945. Not a bloody mention of the US umbrella, a position as historically ignorant as it was ungrateful.

Sam L. said...

Janszoon, I thank you for that. I'd salute you from all 33 of the missile launch capsules I've served in, but there are only two left as historical underground monuments.

Giordano Bruno said...

Janszoon, if you are ever in Dixie, steak and bourbon are on me. Well said on all points.