Germany's reaction to reported U.S. troop withdrawal mixed

(Image credit: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump has reportedly directed the Pentagon to permanently reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000. Germany's conservatives aren't pleased with the move, while the country's left wing parties welcomed it, The Guardian reports.

"The plans show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary task of leadership, to bind coalition partners into decision-making processes," said Johann Wadephul, the deputy chair of the parliamentary group of the Christian Democratic Union, to which Chancellor Angela Merkel belongs.

While the Trump administration's decision reportedly isn't linked to recent disagreements between Trump and Merkel, it does reflect the president's longstanding view that Germany hasn't pulled its weight in terms of defense spending as a key member of NATO. Subsequently, Berlin is concerned the alliance is fraying, which Wadephul says benefits only Russia and China. James Townsend, a former Pentagon official for Europe and NATO, told The Wall Street Journal the plan "erodes trust" with Germany, as well as other allies, even those outside NATO. South Korea, for example, may be worried about a similar maneuver while Seoul and Washington try to sort out how much South Korea should pay to defray the cost of U.S. military deployment there, per The Journal.

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But not everyone's upset. Dietmar Bartsch, the leader of the parliamentary group of Germany's democratic socialist Die Linke Party, said Berlin should be thankful for the decision and "promptly start preparing the complete withdrawal of U.S. soldiers." Poland is also pleased with the development, considering reports that at least some of the 9,500 troops scheduled to leave Germany will head there, since Warsaw is meeting NATO's military-spending goal. Polish Prime Minister Matuesz Morawiecki said bolstering NATO's eastern border "will be a security boost to all of Europe." Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.

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