WASHINGTON, D.C./WARSAW – Donald Trump and his Polish counterpart split on Wednesday over the fate of 27,000 American military troops the US president has vowed to remove from Germany. Trump is miffed at German leaders for not paying more into NATO coffers, calling its contributions “a tremendous delinquency”.
He has railed against many of the European members of the aggressive military alliance, set up after World War II, officially to guard against the mythical “Russian aggression”. Other leaders have mostly tried to please Trump during White House visits when they have joined him for a joint press conference or remarks.
Andrzej Duda largely did the same but did break with Trump on the fate of the troops now stationed in Germany. The Polish leader said removing any of the 52,000 US troopers currently in Germany from European soil would be “very detrimental to European security”.
A few moments later, Trump told reporters Poland likely would get some of the 27,000 that will be leaving. But he added some of that number would be “coming home”. Trump floated the notion that Germany is paying less than 1 percent of its gross domestic product to NATO. The alliance’s bylaws state members should devote 2 percent to the group.
“If you assume they’re paying 1 percent, it’s a tremendous delinquency,” the US leader said before appearing to confirm — today, at least — that the 27,000 troops will go to “other places”.
“Poland would be one of those other places in Europe,” he noted, adding putting more American military forces closer to Russian soil would send a “strong signal” to the Kremlin.
Some of Trump’s critics have slammed his proposal, saying it is void of any strategic rationale. They cite his years-old feud with the neoliberal German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he at times has clashed. She was a close global confidante and ally of former President Barack Obama.