After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump has again usurped the agenda with a couple of outrageously ignorant tweets, saying that Germany “owes vast sums of money to NATO” and that the U.S. “must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany.”
A straight answer to these claims is Germany owes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nothing, and that NATO members aren’t, and won’t be paying the U.S. anything for their defense.
It is beside the point to Trump’s comments that Germany is addressing its real national security agenda and what it is doing to implement it.
As German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said last Sunday, “NATO has not accounts for debts.”
NATO has a budget, to which members contribute in accordance with a cost-sharing arrangement, and Germany’s contribution, paid each year without fail, is the second highest after the U.S., at 14 percent of the total. None of that money goes to the U.S.
Also, Germany does not pay anything for the upkeep of the few remaining military bases in Germany territory, though it does provide rent-free land, free infrastructure and tax breaks in exchange for the positive economic effect the installations have on host towns.
In recent years the U.S. has drastically cut the deployment of its forces in Germany by over 200,000, and the only bases remaining are for the air force and hospitals. There are few fighting U.S. men left in Germany.
It is not clear how, for what exactly Trump wants Germany to pay the United States.
Germany is the second biggest contributor, after the U.S., of troops to NATO.
After a number of reforms, the Bundeswehr is not designed as a massive standing army, but rather as a slim rapid response force.
Trump is knocking on the wrong door when he attacked Germany after meeting with Merkel. He did considerable damage to our relationship with a long standing friend.