Why is the United States so haughty

US Ambassador Grenell threatens US troop withdrawal : Arrogance, empty threats and defiance

Arrogance is one of the seven deadly sins. It blocks the view of one's own interests. In a partnership, it makes cooperation and the solution of pending problems more difficult because the partners feel the arrogance and react with offended defiance. The communication between Germany and Trump's USA has been a story of two haughty people for some time. They react so irritably to the arrogance of their partner that they find it difficult to perceive their own advantage and to explain it to their respective public.

Germany is the hub of global US operations

The most recent example is the US Ambassador Richard Grenell's threat to relocate US troops from Germany to Poland if Germany does not prove to be a reliable ally. He currently understands loyalty to the alliance to mean that the Bundeswehr is involved in escorting merchant ships in the Persian Gulf and the federal government is significantly increasing defense spending and remedying the dramatic deficiencies in equipment in the German armed forces.

Assuming that Donald Trump and his ambassador still have all their senses together, this can safely be dismissed as an empty threat. The US military presence in Germany serves the interests of both sides. Your character has changed. There are no longer more than 300,000 soldiers, mostly in combat units, who would have defended the Federal Republic against an attack by the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. Most of it has been withdrawn.

The USA still has more soldiers in Germany than in any other foreign country, depending on the situation, between 35,000 and a good 50,000. From the decades of the Cold War, in which the USA was the most important protecting power, the strategic infrastructure has remained, especially in Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria: the largest US military hospital outside the USA in Landstuhl. The air hub in Ramstein. The command center for operations in Europe and on the African continent in the Stuttgart area. A large ammunition depot for all of Europe and so on.

It is the infrastructure for US global operations. Every soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq was flown to Ramstein and taken to Landstuhl as soon as he was fit for transport. Every US president stops there every time he visits Germany. Anyone in the USA who follows the television news about an international military mission in Africa sees a map on the screen in which Germany is marked as a participating country, even if the Bundeswehr does not take part in the operation because the US troops are commanded from Stuttgart .

Thousands of Germans earn their money in the US military

After the end of the Cold War, the USA repeatedly invested billions in this infrastructure. And they plan to invest billions more in the coming years because this infrastructure is valuable to the United States. Germany is a stable country that remains committed to the transatlantic alliance regardless of changes of government. The USA will find a job market here with well-educated people. US soldiers like to be in Germany.

So at the core of this partnership is not about mobile combat units that could easily be relocated to Poland. Trump and Grenell would, if they wanted to live up to the threat, throw away billions of dollars in taxpayers' money stuck in this infrastructure. And would have to invest new billions in order to build comparable infrastructure in Poland. Why should they do this?

In addition, the transfer of troops to the new NATO states for permanent residence there violates the NATO-Russia acts. And also the establishment of permanent NATO infrastructure there. However, this argument is no longer so valid because Russia has broken the treaty several times. What is an agreement worth if only one side keeps?

The arrogance of the Germans

Of course, many statements in Germany also seem haughty. The ruling party, the SPD, behaves as if the demand to keep alliance promises was a good reason not to do so, especially if Trump or his ambassador asked for it. One fulfills alliance obligations out of self-interest and not to do a partner a favor. For many reasons, it is also in the German interest that the US military infrastructure remains here. It is a pledge that the US regards the defense of Germany as self-interest. Thousands of jobs for German civil servants depend on the US presence, mostly in regions that are otherwise structurally weak.

In this respect, little has changed in the German contradictions from previous decades. The call “Ami, go home!” Is only popular as long as it remains without consequences. As soon as the USA actually withdraws troops, the SPD mayors of affected municipalities also ask that the Americans should please stay.

The laying fails because of ailing German bridges

The Germans do not have to take Grenell's threat very seriously. But the trigger for his anger. Germany is not fulfilling its alliance obligations in several ways. Not with defense expenses. Not with the equipment of the Bundeswehr and the pledges that the German troops will make available to NATO in terms of capabilities. And not with the infrastructure. If the USA really wanted to move troops to Eastern NATO countries - or had to move them quickly from US ships in Bremerhaven to the Baltic States because of a threat situation - it would not be possible by rail because many German railway bridges cannot withstand the weight of a train with military equipment. Bridge renovation: This is where the civil economic interest meets the requirements for a credible defense of Europe.

No more arrogance. Grenell and the Germans have every reason to talk more about how valuable the Alliance is to themselves. And what they want to contribute to make it even more valuable.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page