- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2018

As President Trump spars with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the world stage this week, a new survey shows that a plurality of Germans want U.S. troops out of their country.

A recent YouGov poll found that 42 percent of Germans want America to withdraw the roughly 35,000 troops currently stationed there. About 37 percent of Germans want the U.S. forces to stay, and another 21 percent were undecided.

The survey was commissioned by the German press agency DPA, and was conducted several days before Mr. Trump arrived in Brussels earlier this week for a high-stakes NATO meeting.

The poll also shows that about 75 percent of Germans oppose Mr. Trump’s call for each NATO member to increase defense spending to at least 2 percent of its annual GDP — a mark that Germany, along with many other member nations, regularly falls short of.

Germans’ desire to see an exit of U.S. troops comes as other European nations want to see a ramped-up American presence. Poland, for example, has offered to pay up to $2 billion for the U.S. to construct a permanent military base within its borders as part of a broader strategy to counter Russian aggression.

Other nations, such as Lithuania, also have said they’d like to see a greater American military presence.

But the survey underscores the growing divide between the U.S. and Germany, a key NATO ally and an economic leader in Europe.

Mr. Trump took direct aim at Germany at the NATO summit this week, casting the country as a freeloader that benefits from a U.S. military presence while failing to pay its share of the bill.

“They have to step it up immediately,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday. “Germany is a rich country. They talk about they’re going to increase it a tiny bit by 2030. Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem. I don’t think it’s fair to the United States. So we’re going to have to do something because we’re not going to put up with it. We can’t put up with it. And it’s inappropriate.”

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