In another controversial decision, the Trump administration announced Wednesday that the United States is moving forward with plans to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops out of Germany.
It relocates about 5,600 troops to Italy and Belgium, with the rest returning to the United States to conduct rotational deployments to Europe, according to the Washington Post. The Pentagon says the plan is meant to strengthen NATO and discourage Russia. But Trump – whose explanation contradicted his own defense officials – says it’s because Germany is taking advantage of the United States by not paying enough for its own defense.
On this week’s episode World, Vox’s weekly international podcast, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams and international security and defense reporter Alex Ward discuss the merits of the arguments put forward by the Trump administration and what which could mean for the future of US relations with Europe.
The plan has been extensively criticized by defense politicians and experts from across the political spectrum. Sen. Mitt Romney set up the plan as a “gift to Russia,”; and Craftsman Bob Menendez said “champagne must circulate freely tonight in the Kremlin.”
Critics say the plan will not discourage Russia; will do the opposite. The countries where troops are being relocated immediately, Italy and Belgium, are not facing serious threats of Russian aggression. In addition, Trump’s relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel are already buying, so critics also fear that US-Germany relations could take another blow.
And it could cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, according to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Shortly after a realignment of the similar force, when President Barack Obama withdrew some U.S. combat brigades from Germany in 2012 and 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in -2014.
But there will still be 24,000 troops in Germany after the removal (which could take years), and it’s unclear whether Putin will interpret the move as the “gift” of U.S. lawmakers accusing the plan of being.
To hear more about why the Trump administration is withdrawing troops from Germany and the potential consequences, listen to the full episode of World, which can be streamed below.
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