GOP members of House Foreign Affairs Committee urge Trump to reconsider US troop withdrawal from Germany – Washington Examiner

Posted: June 24, 2020 at 6:08 am

WE THEREFORE URGE YOU TO RECONSIDER: Six Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, have written to President Trump strongly urging him to reconsider his decision to pull almost 10,000 U.S. troops from permanent bases in Germany in a dispute over the level of defense spending by the NATO ally.

The U.S. forward presence in Germany serves as a cornerstone of NATOs deterrent against Russian aggression, write the GOP House members, who note that two years after the Obama administration withdrew thousands of troops from Germany in 2012, Russia invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula. This is not the time to take any action that might cause the Putin regime to question the credibility of the NATO deterrent or might lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the U.S. commitment to our collective security.

We recognize that Germany has yet to meet the 2014 Wales Pledge to spend at least 2% of its gross domestic product on defense. However, we fear this partial U.S. withdrawal from Germany will fail to convince Berlin to spend more, while putting U.S. strategic interests at risk, the letter argues. We therefore urge you to reconsider this decision.

Along with McCaul, the letter is signed by Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Ann Wagner of Missouri; Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and John Curtis of Utah.

HOW DOES THAT WORK? At his Tulsa rally Saturday night, Trump railed against Germany and criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for saying it may be 10 years before Germany reaches the 2% goal.

We're supposed to protect Germany from Russia, but Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for energy coming from a pipeline, brand-new pipeline. So they pay the country we're supposed to protect them from they pay billions of dollars to that country. We're supposed to protect them. Excuse me. How does that work? Trump said, adding, They're not treating us properly.

WE'RE NEGOTIATING. LET'S SEE: Trump did indicate that the decision, which would take months to plan and initiate, isnt final. But in his typical negotiating style, hes accusing Germany of owing a whopping $1 trillion in back dues.

For many years, they're delinquent. They haven't been paying what they're supposed to be paying, Trump said. They say, Yes, we think by 2030, maybe 2032, we can get current. I said, No, Angela. Angela, please. Don't say that, Angela.

I said, Well, what about the last 25 years, all the money you owe us? I said, What about the $1 trillion that you really owe? So we're negotiating. Let's see.

NOT HOW IT WORKS: Trumps rationale that Germany is delinquent in payments to NATO is not true, writes former Supreme NATO Commander retired Adm. James Stavridis in an op-ed published Monday. NATOs budget is apportioned among the 30 member nations, and Germanys obligations are up to date. While it is correct that Germany has yet to achieve the alliances goal of members spending 2% of GDP on their own defense, Berlin has been moving in that direction.

Stavridis argues that Germany punches above its weight in many ways, including paying a substantial portion of the cost of maintaining some 40,000 U.S. forces and providing modern, high-tech infrastructure, including the U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where many gravely wounded U.S. troops have been saved. These are not the obsolete bases of the Cold War, but the forward-operating stations of the 21st century.

TRUMPS RETREAT A VICTORY FOR PUTIN: A good question to ask in looking at a major basing decision is quite simple: Who benefits? asked Stavridis. In this case, certainly not the U.S., because it will lose strategic bases close to its adversaries. It wont save any money in fact, the Pentagon will lose German subsidies. When the troops are moved back to the U.S., it will require bases to house them, and, if they need to be re-deployed, transportation costs will be significant.

Which brings us to the only beneficiary: Vladimir Putin, concludes Stavridis. The Russian leader will use this sudden withdrawal to posture at home (the U.S. is afraid of getting into a war with Russia), within Europe (the U.S. really isnt committed to your defense), and internationally in the Middle East and elsewhere (see how fickle the Americans are toward their supposed allies?).

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HAPPENING TODAY: Trump travels to Yuma, Arizona, to mark the construction of more than 200 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Then, he addresses a Students for Trump event at the Dream City megachurch in Phoenix, where several thousand people are expected to gather.

Arizona is one of the states currently seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, which Trump has attributed to an increase in testing rather than an increase in the rate of transmission and infection. Arizonas seven-day average of positive tests is 20.4%, well above the national average of 8.4%, according to the Associated Press.

This week, Phoenix made wearing mouth and nose coverings mandatory in public when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, but the citys Democratic mayor said that wearing masks at the Trump event will be voluntary. Elected officials should send the strongest message possible, in both their words and actions, that our fight against this virus is not over, said Mayor Kate Gallego, who is urging everyone, including Trump, to wear a mask.

AN ABERRATION: Anthony Tata, President Trumps nominee to be the Pentagons senior policy official, is apologizing for offensive tweets unearthed by CNN in an effort to save his embattled nomination, writes Jack Detsch in Foreign Policy.

The publication obtained a letter Tata sent to the Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, a Republican, and ranking Democrat Jack Reed in which Tata said he had come to deeply regret the tweets and called them an aberration in a four-decade thread of faithful public service.

Earlier this month, CNN reported that in 2018, Tata tweeted that Islam was the "most oppressive violent religion I know of" and claimed former President Barack Obama was a "terrorist leader" who did more to harm to the United States "and help Islamic countries than any president in history."

Tata, a retired Army brigadier general, has been a frequent defender of Trump on Fox News.

TODAYS BOLTON EXCERPT: True to its title, John Boltons bestselling memoir recounts many behind-the-scenes interactions in the room where it happened, told from Boltons perspective.

Todays short excerpt takes us back November 2018, the month before Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would resign, telling Trump he deserved a secretary more aligned with his views. The scene is the Oval Office, where Trump has gathered Vice President Mike Pence, Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Bolton for a discussion of Afghanistan.

Pompeo led off, but Trump quickly interjected, Were being beaten, and they know theyre beating us. Then he was off, raging against the statutorily mandated Afghanistan Inspector General, whose reports repeatedly documented wasted tax dollars but also provided amazingly accurate information about the war that any other government would have kept private. I think hes right, said Trump, but I think its a disgrace he can make such things public.

Later in the meeting:

I said you could do whatever you wanted, he said, and glared, looking straight at Mattis. I gave you complete discretion, except for nuclear weapons, and look what happened. Trump was bitter whenever his 2017 speech came up, but one wonders how he would have felt if the strategy had prevailed. Whats a win in Afghanistan? Trump asked.

Mattis correctly responded, The United States doesnt get attacked. Finally switching his tack, Mattis offered, Lets say were ending the war, not that were withdrawing.

Okay, you ready? Trump asked no one in particular, but using this favorite phrase indicating something big was coming. Say we have been there for eighteen years. We did a great job. If anybody comes here, they will be met like never before. Thats what we say, he said, although Trump then expanded the withdrawal to include Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Then Trump came back at Mattis: I gave you what you asked for. Unlimited authority, no holds barred. Youre losing. Youre getting your ass kicked. You failed. This painful repetition demonstrates that Trump, who endlessly stresses he is the only one who makes decisions, had trouble taking responsibility for them.

Can we delay it [the withdrawal] so we dont lose more men and diplomats? Mattis asked.

Trump roared back, We cant afford it. Weve failed. If it were turning out differently, I wouldnt do it.

TRUMPS BURNING ISSUE: President Trump first made the request in his conference call with state governors April 1, and he repeated it at his rally in Tulsa Saturday night. The president wants a law to ban the burning of the American flag. And he keeps urging lawmakers at every level to take action.

Outraged by a report from Portland, Oregon, that protesters toppled a statue of George Washington, wrapped its head in a flag, and burned it, Trump said, We ought to come up with legislation that if you burn the American flag, you go to jail for one year. One year.

And he called on Oklahomas two senators to introduce the legislation. Jim and James. We ought to do it. You know, they talk about freedom of speech, and I'm a big believer in freedom of speech, but that's desecration, Trump said. That's a terrible thing they do. We used to have things. We don't have them anymore because we want to be so open, so everything, and look what happens.

THE HIGH COURT HAS SPOKEN: In 1968, during another time of civil strife, Congress passed the Federal Flag Desecration Law, which stated that whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

But that law was invalidated by a landmark 1989 Supreme Court ruling in the case Texas v. Johnson in which the court voted 5-4 in favor of Gregory Lee Johnson, a protester who had burned the flag at the Republican National Convention in Dallas in violation of Texas law.

Congress tried again with a new law, the Flag Protection Act of 1989, which the Supreme Court also struck down 5-4.

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable, wrote Justice William Brennan, citing the Johnson case, according to the National Constitution Center.

Among the five majority justices in the 1989 case was Antonin Scalia, who said in 2015, If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag, but I am not king.

To change the law now would require a constitutional amendment or a new ruling from the Supreme Court.

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5 a.m. EDT/11 a.m. CET NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg takes part in an online discussion on the geopolitical implications of COVID-19, organized by the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, with Amrita Narlikar, president of GIGA.

12 p.m. Association of the United States Army Noon Report, with Gen. Paul Funk II, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.


10 a.m. Longworth 1100 and Cisco Webex Full House Armed Services markup of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021.

There are plenty of good reasons to keep our troops in Germany. I cant think of a single one that makes sense to pull them out.

Former Supreme NATO Commander retired Adm. James Stavridis, in an op-ed opposing President Trumps threat to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from bases in Germany.

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GOP members of House Foreign Affairs Committee urge Trump to reconsider US troop withdrawal from Germany - Washington Examiner

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