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Germany

The Problem With Trimming The U.S. Military Presence In Germany

The chief foreign policy correspondent for Die Welt chimes in on Trump's decision to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Germany from 35,000 to 25,000.

U.S. President Donald Trump takes selfies with U.S. service members during stop-over at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
U.S. President Donald Trump takes selfies with U.S. service members during stop-over at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Clemens Wergin

-OpEd-

BERLIN — That's the thing with emotional acts: Often you can understand where they come, but ultimately they're counterproductive. Such is the case with the partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany that Donald Trump confirmed on Monday and presented as a kind of punitive action for Germany's failure to meet NATO spending expectations.

Indeed, the president's frustration is partly understandable. In an increasingly insecure world, Germany's longstanding refusal to increase defense spending tends to border on neglect of duty, and one cannot be surprised that Berlin is accused of freeloading.

Frustration over a stubborn ally is not a good guide for strategic decisions.

Also, as Trump points out, it makes no sense in view of Russia's increasingly aggressive stance for Germany to depend even more on Russian gas supplies through Nord Stream 2 and make Eastern Europe more vulnerable to Russian blackmail attempts. Germany clearly has poor arguments on these issues and displays a level of stubbornness that even many European partners cannot understand.

But that doesn't make Trump's decision any better. Frustration over a stubborn ally is not a good guide for strategic decisions. Having a significant contingent of U.S. troops in the heart of Europe is also in line with American, not just German interests. And it makes sense that the bulk of U.S. troops are not directly on the Eastern European front line, where they would be more vulnerable.

In the event of a crisis, they could move there quickly. Germany is also a good location from a logistical point of view, as units can be relocated quickly to the volatile Middle East, for example.

Trump's partial withdrawal, on the other hand, weakens NATO, weakens America's position in Europe and damages relations with its important, though sometimes irritating ally, Germany. In sum, Trump has shown the same strategic short-sightedness that he rightly accuses the Germans of.

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Ideas

Making It Political Already? Why Turkey's Earthquake Is Not Just A Natural Disaster

The government in Ankara doesn't want to question the cause of the high death toll in the earthquake that struck along the Turkey-Syria border. But one Turkish writer says it's time to assign responsibility right now.

photo of Erdogan at the earthquake site

President Erdogan surveys the damage on Wednesday

Office of the Turkish Presidency
Dağhan Irak

-OpEd-

ISTANBUL — We have a saying in Turkey: “don’t make it political” and I am having a hard time finding the right words to describe how evil that mindset is. It's as if politics is isolated from society, somehow not connected to how we live and the consequences of choices taken.

Allow me to translate for you the “don’t make it political” saying's real meaning: “we don’t want to be held accountable, hands off.”

It means preventing the public from looking after their interests and preserving the superiority of a certain type of individual, group and social class.

In order to understand the extent of the worst disaster in more than 20 years, we need to look back at that disaster: the İzmit-Düzce earthquakes of 1999.

Because we have before us a regime that does not care about anything but its own interests; has no plan but to save itself in times of danger; does not believe such planning is even necessary (even as it may tinker with the concept in case there is something to gain from it); gets more mafioso as it grows more partisan — and more deadly as it gets more mafioso.

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