Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE)- A new poll for the DPA news agency shows that German voters are growing resistant to the current level of spending on the military in their country, as well as the number of US troops that Germany is playing host to.
The United States has 35,000 US troops and 40 military bases there including strangely the headquarters of Africom the US command that covers Africa. So far, no African country has agreed to host it and in any event the Pentagon finds it easier to run a sophisticated HQ in Germany than in infrastructure poor Africa.
The poll shows that, even as US President Trump is threatening to pull US troops out of Germany, voters would welcome the US departure, with only a shade over a third of the Germans wanting US soldiers to stay.
Trump’s threats to pull out troops is all the more bizarre as the Pentagon has just announced that they are sending 1500 more.
The new troops are headed to Grafenwuhr, and will include field artillery and a pair of multiple-launch rocket system battalions. Other units are being sent to Ansbach and Baumholder.
Army officials issued a statement saying the deployment proves “our continued commitment to NATO and our collective resolve to support European security.”
Taken along party lines, Germans on both the left and the right were the heaviest supporters of the US withdrawal, with Die Linke voters overwhelmingly backing the idea. The ruling Christian Democrats are the least strongly in favor of the pullout.
Germans are not just sick of foreign troops, either. The poll showed strong resistance to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to spend 2% of Germany’s GDP on the military. Only 15% of Germans support that idea.
Indeed, not only did an overwhelming majority say that 2% is too much for Germany to spend, some 36% of Germans say that the nation’s current military spending, about 1.2% or $44.3 billion, is already too much as it is.
1.2% is at the low end of percentages for NATO members, but Germany’s massive economy means even that is enough to make them one of the top 10 spending militaries on the planet. Since Germany is friendly with every nation it borders, there is a strong case to be made that a lot of this spending is extraneous.
Since World War 2, Germany has committed itself heavily to developing a culture averse to large military spending and overseas campaigns. The money saved has helped turn them into the economic powerhouse of Europe.
As the US is finding out, this anti-militarist culture is entrenched enough that US pushes to dramatically increase spending are a tough sell to the ruling coalition, and completely unpalatable to the public at large. Germans don’t want a huge military, and the threat to withdraw US forces is no threat at all, as many would just as soon they left in the first place.
The poll demonstrates that the German people are not only unwilling to return to any policy that smacks of militarism but do not appreciate that their country is effectively still occupied 73 years after the end of the Second World War. They do not buy the NATO story that the US is there to protect them from some imaginary Russian threat. Few believe that 150 million Russians are willing to commit suicide by attacking 500 million nuclear armed Europeans back by 300 million Americans and the huge US military for no appreciable gain.