Commentary V4

Opinion: What are the Germans afraid of?

Given the recent possibility of withdrawal of US troops from Germany, there might be a change in the dynamics of Polish-German relations, writes Marek A. Cichocki.

Recently, German press has begun to worry about the idea of withdrawing American soldiers from Germany and the possibility of them being transferred to Poland. Speculation on the subject has been ignited by the Twitter diplomacy of Richard Grenell and Gerogette Mosbacher, US ambassadors in Berlin and Warsaw.

Grennel wrote that it is scandalous that Germany expects US military protection while at the same time striking at the US with its trade policies. Mosbacher stated that Poland is exemplary in fulfilling its NATO financial obligations and will be happy to host US troops in its territory. 

These statements have been treated as politically synchronized and there are worries as to what Donald Trump will say at the G7 summit in Biarritz and his visit to Warsaw on the occasion of the outbreak of the Second World War.

It’s hard to tell what worries our Western neighbors more – the possibility to withdraw an almost 50,000 strong contingent of American troops or the idea that some of the soldiers would be transferred to Poland. 

In the case of the latter, ambition and prestige play a role, as it was Germany who “introduced” Poland to NATO 20 years ago. 

Today, due to the state of its army, under-financing, dodging global conflicts and Nord Stream 2, Germany has found itself under criticism. In the motives of the Polish government, which is tightening cooperation with Trump, one can often see not only the want to increase security, but “cocking a snook” politics.

Key in all of this is Trump’s unpredictability, which is creating a feeling of uncertainty and even threat in Germany. This could be important capital in Polish-German relations. The biggest weakness of Polish policy towards Germany after 1989 was our inability to define the benefits which we expect from cooperation. 

Will we able to behave differently this time?

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