Trump’s Retaliation

Withdrawing troops from Germany also hurts Washington’s interests. Will reason prevail at least in Congress?

Even a manic narcissist can apparently go through depressive phases. Regardless, Donald Trump cannot not stop overdoing it. After all, it is not true that “nobody” likes him. Despite his declining popularity, he still has millions of followers. Trump’s comment that the reason he is losing favor “can only be my personality” cannot be so easily rebuffed. His politics are suffused with a unique drive for retaliation. Whoever praises the president is rewarded; whoever does not butter him up or steals the show from him is punished.

These retaliatory measures also include the withdrawal of troops from Germany at a time when Berlin is trying to strengthen its own defensive capabilities, as Trump has rightly demanded. But on top of that came something that, from the president’s view, was unforgivable: “Angela,” who also does not otherwise play along with him politically, turned him down when he invited her to the Group of Seven summit, which would have provided nice photos for his reelection campaign.

After that, Trump apparently did not care that closing bases in Germany would not only hurt communities and businesses that profit from the presence of American soldiers, but, with the troop withdrawal, Trump is also weakening America’s position in the heart of Europe. He thus strengthens doubt about Washington’s support. That does not generate more security — it generates less.

And why? By the time of the election, the president, who is now pulling out all the stops, will not be able to declare to his fans that the removal and withdrawal has been completed. The process will be very expensive. Headquarters in moving containers are limited in their defensive capabilities. The damage that this decision will cause to NATO — which will be visible as far away as Beijing — is apparent in Washington, and not only just to Democrats in international relations and security. Maybe reason will triumph in Congress after all, even right before the election. For that, one would be willing to tolerate another outburst of presidential self-pity.

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