Aleksandr Zapolskis: The US Started to Calculate the Cost of Withdrawing From Germany

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


As is known, in the safes of every self-respecting General Staff there are packages sealed by wax with plans of action that are worked out in advance for all possibilities. Including the most improbable ones, like the landing of aliens or doomsday. Actually, this isn’t much of a joke. As a rule, the most acute acute shortage in any state of emergency is the time to sit down and think quietly. Even the worst plan is usually much better than having no plan in general.

However, attempts to use jokes to hide real processes that don’t wish to be made public or which couldn’t be saved from being leaked are not a seldom occurance. The analytical article in the “Washington Post”, in which the authors speak about the activisation in the Pentagon of work to analyse the cost and consequences of the withdrawal of the US army from Germany, is an example of this. Pentagon officials not so much completely deny the facts mentioned in it, but refer to the naturalness of military planning for the most different possibilities. Allegedly, nothing special happens, the financial leadership just analyzes the structure and volume of operating costs for the purpose of searching for ways to optimise them. This explanation could be accepted if it wasn’t for a number of indirect signs that testify to the contrary.

As is already known, in the forthcoming 10-15 years Germany, of course, plans to increase its military expenses, but they will definitely not reach the level of 2% of GDP demanded by Washington. Besides this, this money will be spent, first of all, on updating the service yard that consists of arms of European production in its majority. So, nothing substantial will come the way of the American military-industrial complex.

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The visit to the US of the German Minister of Defence of Ursula von der Leyen, which took place on June 20th, 2018 before the forthcoming NATO summit in Brussels, did not bring any basic changes to the current situation. Washington needs additional money. Trump wishes to receive it at the expense of increasing the share of the military expenses of European countries to the notorious “2%” at minimum.

However, instead he doesn’t receive anything. And in addition, unlike Japan, Germany covers only a third of the cost of maintaining the American military contingent on its territory, and it does this generally not with money, but in a natural form, i.e., the free allocation of land for facilities, the provision of infrastructure, and ensuring other similar requirements.

Thus, Trump and the US in general find themselves stuck in an almost impasse. Having pronounced the responsibility of the Europeans to pay for American protection, it was as if the master of the White House hinted that the US doesn’t intend to protect Europe without money, thereby having created a difficult dilemma: how to react further if the Germans don’t cave in. The option of ignoring the refusal bears huge, it is possible to say even fatal, negative consequences for the US’ geopolitical influence. The leader that allows his demands to be ignored stops being a leader very quickly, and the lion’s share of the economic wellbeing of America is based on this today.

Concerning the lion’s share, it isn’t just a beautiful turn of speech. More than half of the current income of American business and budget revenues is directly tied to the domination of the dollar in global finance and American corporations in the foreign markets. A reduction in this income threatens to collapse the social contract, and, consequently, disintegrate the US as a federal State. Of course, all of this doesn’t happen in one day, but the trend won’t leave any other options.

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On the other hand, if it is impossible to remain and leave at the same time, then the Pentagon has to look for way of relocating itself that allow to save face. This also probably explains the reason for the increased activity of analysts in assessing the cost of withdrawing from Germany.

The public initiative of Warsaw, with a proposal to donate $2 billion to Washington for the expansion of the US base in Poland serves as confirmation, albeit indirect, of this. How the Poles benefit here is absolutely clear. Turning into the key and almost sole base of the Pentagon in Europe (meaning as the main logistics area with key elements of infrastructure, and not just the location of barracks) means that 70% of the money spent on maintaining the foreign contingent that previously came to Germany will instead start to now go to Poland.

It is naive to expect that the Poles – who are 7.7-fold economically inferior to the Germans – will agree to pay all expenses entirely at their own expense. Washington understands this point, that’s why the Pentagon refused the Polish offer, whereas the State Department uses it as leverage in negotiations with Berlin, hinting at America having the technical capability of “leaving”.

Most likely, by allowing such a leak, Trump’s administration expected the Germans and Europeans to, in general, totally and unconditionally surrender, but received directly the opposite result. The European Union not only wasn’t frightened, but even amicably proclaimed the official beginning of the formation of the EU’s own army, completely separate of NATO. Objectively speaking, the Europeans have big difficulties with this, but formally, on paper, this decision can parry the American argument about the importance and necessity of preserving the alliance to ensure all of Europe’s security.

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Now everything depends on the results of the NATO Brussels summit that will take place in a week (July 11th-12th – ed]. In the current scenario it is already impossible to exclude that the Pentagon may need plans for the withdrawal of the contingent in Germany that are not at all theoretical.

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