Every time US President Donald Trump decides to make a series of Frank statements about his relations with the leaders of other countries, the expert and diplomatic community is covered with either the so-called Spanish shame or just a banal shock.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday, the leader of the United States revealed several exciting aspects of his relationship with Angela Merkel, at the same time explaining the logic of the decision to reduce the contingent of American troops stationed in Germany sharply. The shock was not long in coming and the expert and diplomatic community will long recover from the following recognition: it turns out that the withdrawal of American troops is an attempt to punish Germany for its cooperation with Gazprom and the purchase of Russian energy resources. By and large, trump, speaking in a thuggish language (suitable for American foreign policy to a much greater extent than the language of high European diplomacy with its notes and “expressions of concern”), simply “put Merkel on the counter,” saying that Germany has to pay a trillion dollars for the protection (more precisely, the “roof”) that NATO provides to it.
Probably, the American leader wanted to demonstrate to his voters (and the US is now in the midst of an election campaign) that he is a fierce and determined patriot, able to defend national interests firmly. Still, it turned out to be frankly wrong. Trump looked like an indecisive patriot, but just a very offended old man who is sincerely angry about the fact that Angela Merkel does not pay him the necessary attention and does not give money to NATO. In the words of trump, the most real jealousy shines through.
“They spend billions of dollars to buy Russian energy, and after that, we have to protect them from Russia, but it doesn’t work,” the New York Post quoted him as saying.
Also, Angela Merkel causes Donald Trump personal suspicions related to her wait-and-see position in the negotiations and the actions of the European Union in the sphere of trade relations with the United States.
“We protect Europe, and it also enjoys huge advantages over the United States in trade, you would not even believe it. I think they would like to wait until after the (us presidential) elections so that they can deal with someone other than President Trump. But after the election, they will just have to pay more,” the American leader threatened from the podium of a joint press conference with the Polish President, who was probably delighted that the German Chancellor, not he, was under the hot hand.
As noted by Bloomberg, about Germany, Trump has enormous financial plans, which he does not intend to give up: “They forget about all the money that was not paid and I said about the trillion dollars that they owe. < … > So we are negotiating. We will see,” the President said.”
It should be noted that Washington no longer has the former opportunities to squeeze any amount out of Germany and other vassals to satisfy the appetites of NATO and Pentagon generals. As the American media rightly remind us, the American leader mentioned this same trillion (or even several trillion) dollars during a recent speech at a rally of his supporters and tried to beat it out of Angela Merkel back in 2018, but did not achieve any results.
A senior German official then complained to British journalists from the Financial Times that Trump told the German Chancellor the following: “You’re cool, but you owe me trillions of dollars,” so apparently Frau Merkel did not appreciate such a subtle compliment and diplomatic move.
“The President understands the history of Europe and understands the realities of Europe,” Andrzej Duda said of Donald Trump (quoted by the New York Post). However, there are still certain doubts — on the issue of understanding both history and reality. Despite the negative attitude of a particular segment of the European political elite to Moscow, it is unlikely that there will be those among high-ranking politicians who believe in the scheme “the US protects Europe from Russia.” Propaganda “horror stories” about an aggressive and scary Eastern neighbor, where bears in earflaps and balalaika in their paws ride on tanks and common dream of capturing the Baltic States, do not reflect a single real European fear of our country but are just a tool for preserving power for a part of the political establishment, which is used to selling “protection from Russia” to voters as its first, foremost and only advantage.
The real fear of Russia is connected with other things, such as, for example, the loss of access to financial flows from transit (this is seen in the case of Poland and some Baltic countries), as well as with the change in the Russian image in the eyes of the Europeans themselves, because in this case, politicians who have made a career on rabid russophobia will have to change their roles.
Donald trump’s behavior is logical in its way — he would very much like to show voters the trillion dollars received from Angela Merkel and say that this amount, for example, will go to investment in American infrastructure. Especially since the President promised steps of this kind four years ago, and his administration repeated these promises just last week.
On the other hand, the host of the White House would like to show his sponsors from the energy sector proof that Germany will now buy American LNG instead of Russian gas. However, all these wishes and threats that in the future, Angela Merkel will have to pay more run into a reasonable question: and if Germany does not do this, what exactly will happen?
So far, in the performance of Donald Trump, there has been a reduction in the presence of US troops in Germany. It remains to be seen whether this terrible demonstration of power scared the Berlin politicians. There is reason to believe that at least some of them may find the prospect of even complete withdrawal of the American armed forces from Germany or the European Union an excellent scenario for the future, which the President of the United States himself will not like very much.