Streetwise Professor

March 20, 2019

Leader of the Free World–Correction, Leader of the Free Loaders–Is Up to Its Old Tricks

Filed under: Economics,Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 8:18 pm

Germany announced that because its economy has the sniffles or something, not only can’t it meet its commitment to spend 2 pct of GDP on defense, it won’t meet it’s halfway house commitment of 1.5 percent. (Snicker. I said “Germany” and “commitment” in the same sentence. I’m so funny.)

This was widely reported as another German rebuke to the Bad Orange Man. Because of course expecting someone to live up to commitments made when nobody even dreamed the Bad Orange Man would be president is totally outrageous.

The US ambassador to Germany, the openly gay Richard Grenell (whut? The outrageous homophobe Trump appointed a gay guy to be ambassador?) called out Germany on defense spending, and on Nordstream II too. Which caused a meltdown in Berlin. The deputy chairman of the ostensibly conservative Free Democrats called for Grenell’s recall, harrumphing that “Any US diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits.” The caucus manager of the almost-commies (aka the SDP) chimed in: “Mr Grenell is a complete diplomatic failure.”

I say that if they are going to bitch about being occupied, let’s give them something to bitch about, and occupy the bastards for real. They obviously didn’t learn their lesson the last time.

I figure that given the abjectly pathetic state of the German military, the relatively modest US forces there (augmented by this contingent) could wrap up the job in short order. The main problem would be processing all the POWs. After all, this is a country in which 17 percent–17 percent!–of the population says that they would fight to defend their country: this is the lowest rate in Europe, except for the Dutch who weigh in at 15 percent. So resistance is likely to be light. Cheese eating surrender monkeys?–bah! Schnitzel eating surrender monkeys will put them in the shade.

Just to rub it in, I suggest that we invite the Poles to participate. Maybe the Israelis too. See how Fritz likes his own medicine from those he gave it to in years past.

As I’ve said ad nauseum, it’s beyond annoying for the Germans to squeal like stuck pigs at being criticized for failing to live up to their commitments to joint defense, given their pretensions to be leaders of not just Europe, but the free world in the era of the Bad Orange Man. So Grenell should redouble his efforts and make them squeal even more.

And what is the point of providing for the common defense of a nation whose people can’t even be bothered to defend themselves–and admit it (i.e., the 17 percent number cited above)?

Bismarck once said that the Balkans were not worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier. Germans now think that Germany is not worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier. So why should they be worth the bones of a single American grunt?

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  1. From what I have seen (I invite more informed opinions on this) not only is Germany’s spending low, but what they do spend is rife with procurement corruption of the sort that Don Rumsfeld, in the GWB administration, went after, before events forced him into developing counterinsurgency strategy (a role he appears to have been poorly prepared for). The Germans would be better off sending their military budget to Poland and simply hire them for defense.

    And totally off-topic, our esteemed blogging host would find these insider interviews on the collapse of the Mtgox Bitcoin exchange quite frighteningly delicious, deliciously frightening. The flippant way in which all the parties treated custodial trust boggles the mind, in hindsight at least.

    Comment by M. Rad. — March 20, 2019 @ 11:46 pm

  2. Wow, it looks like their comments are having the desired effect in terms of winding up the Bad Orange Man’s base. What’s that, 2 posts on this topic in as many weeks? Yet nada on the important stuff like North Korea, Trump’s reversal in Syria etc

    Still I like your idea of Germany outsourcing their commitments to the Poles (would you stop moaning even then?). Maybe they could pay one of those Chinese PMCs, like the one whose cheekily offered to take on University Sam’s commitment in Afghanistan for a cool $5Bn a year.

    Comment by David Mercer — March 21, 2019 @ 3:32 am

  3. I don’t know where I read it (possibly here or on Desert Sun) but there was a comment to the effect of: The Germans even count Autobahn maintenance as part of their military spending… but if I were Vladimir Putin, I would count that towards MY military spending.

    As a tax-payer in one of the two countries in Europe (plus honourable mention for the Greeks) that can actually field a useful army, I find Germany’s recalcitrance almost as frustrating as an American. I say “almost” because according to The Economist last week, the USA spends 5.6% of its military budget on defending the richest region on earth (counting GDP of EEA). That probably is more annoying.

    I don’t like Trump, I don’t like the idea of making NATO Article 5 contingent on meeting spending commitments… but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — March 21, 2019 @ 5:56 am

  4. That 17% figure is bad, but I wonder what the figure would be for those in Germany willing to fight against Germany, given the recent introduction of a million foreign males of fighting age?

    Comment by Rob — March 21, 2019 @ 6:39 am

  5. The solution is obvious: kick Germany out of NATO, invite Ukraine to join instead, have Poland take Germany’s place as NATO’s infrastructure backbone in Europe (they’ve got them autobahns, too!), eat popcorn while watching Russia occupy Germany. Frau Merkel already speaks Russian, plus she would not have those annoying elections to worry about any more. Given the size of Germany, it will take the Russkies some time to turn it into wasteland, during which they need not worry about the annoying problem of having to produce anything. Impressed by the spectacle, everyone else starts contributing 2.5% to joint defence, just in case. Everybody wins!

    Comment by Ivan — March 21, 2019 @ 2:37 pm

  6. All kidding aside, Germany’s stance is quite reasonable. Why should they spend more on defense? They have the Poles as a buffer country, and their Ostpolitik has seen to it that Russia values them more as a customer than an adversary.

    It’s a pity that NATO is thus weakened, especially as it is of value to Poland, the Baltic, and the Nordic states (even though Sweden and Finland are not members, they do directly benefit from a robust NATO). Russia has already war-gamed an invasion of the region, and Putin might possibly gamble on that if his popularity wanes. He has already announced that Russia intends to “protect” its ethnic minorities living in the Baltics.

    This is probably the only reason to keep NATO alive, as the Balkans are too poor to be of consequence, and Turkey will soon spin off into an Islamist state.

    The only thing the US can do at this point is to retaliate economically against Germany. That entails a trade war, one which I have a feeling Trump will initiate as soon as he wraps up negotiations with China.

    Does America have anything to lose in slapping high tariffs on German cars? It would certainly be popular with Trump’s voting base.

    What would be the costs involved to have the pleasure of seeing Germany squirm its way into a recession?

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — March 21, 2019 @ 3:26 pm

  7. Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but isn’t one reason the U.S. keeps troops in Germany, apart from the NATO angle, which as far as I’m concerned, we can bring the troops home, Germany isn’t worth a single American German shepherd, to keep an eye on Germany? I know now they are toothless. But remember what Churchill said (possibly a paraphrase): “The hun is either at your feet or at your throat.”

    Comment by titan28 — March 21, 2019 @ 3:38 pm

  8. “The hun is either at your feet or at your throat.”

    Either Winston Churchill quoting the SWP or the other way ‘round, not sure.

    Comment by The Pilot — March 21, 2019 @ 6:11 pm

  9. It is certainly reasonable to question the value of NATO at this time in history. However, we have all seen how quickly the world can change, and when it does, politicians are generally the last to admit the need for action. Building and organizing a military alliance the size of NATO takes a great deal of time and effort. Military interoperability would be crucial to future war efforts, but takes many hours of practice and training to operate together in a way that enhances rather than detracts from military effectiveness. When the field of battle is far from the home front (e.g., Middle East or China), then interoperability becomes even more critical since you are likely to see the US providing transport, communications and electronic intel, while the allies provide a meaningful portion of the ground forces (and a couple airplanes). NATO is necessary because by the time the politicians recognize that they must act or be pushed out of their cushy jobs by enemy troops, it will be too late to pull together an effective allied war effort on the fly. And the scary part is, war could come from a direction where we aren’t now looking

    Comment by Pacy — March 22, 2019 @ 8:26 am

  10. @Pacy–I don’t disagree. Now all you have to do is convince the Germans. A Nato that is the US plus a bunch of ankle-biting freeloaders is worse than no Nato at all.

    You need other militaries to interoperate with. The UK barely meets the threshold. It probably won’t for much longer. The rest of them are more of a burden than a benefit. “Meaningful portion of ground forces.” FFS–look at Germany, even France, not to mention the Netherlands or Belgium or what have you. To paraphrase Patton: they couldn’t fight their way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. Their ground forces are not only completely dependent on US logistics to get anywhere, they couldn’t bring meaningful combat power in any event. They couldn’t even bring meaningful combat power on the Elbe, or Fulda, or Meuse.

    This is exactly why it is time to say put the fuck up or shut the fuck up.

    Comment by cpirrong — March 22, 2019 @ 5:40 pm

  11. Prof – have you priced into this whole debate about NATO freeloaders, the benefits the United States currently gains from having militarily impotent allies in Europe? If European countries spent comparable amounts to the US on defence might they try and pursue a foreign policy far less favourable to the United States than the policies they currently espouse? Indeed in this scenario might the United States need to consider those European militaries as potential threats to the US diluting the military power it can orientate towards China and Russia or otherwise requiring even greater defence spending?

    Sure, US taxpayers have to currently fund European defence. And the US has to put up with anti-American diplomatic grandstanding from European allies (most notably in 2003 just before the second Gulf War). But perhaps this is a price worth paying to avoid having a truely independent European foreign policy which may be far more costly for the US to manage?

    Comment by Jan Hards — March 22, 2019 @ 8:27 pm

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