Original title: “Zu Donald Trump. Küsse, Angele Merkel”. Posted by tuanomsok on reddit.com/r/de.
I’m normally going to have Martin Schulz memes on this blog, but this seemed so good… I’ll allow it.
The image refers to a $300 billion or more “invoice” that Trump reportedly handed Merkel on her recent visit to the White House. Presumably, Trump wasn’t certain that the entire world would get douche chills with just the handshake fiasco, so he had to go the extra mile to prove his douche credentials to the haters. After meeting with Merkel, he tweeted: “I’M THE BIGGEST DOUCHEBAG IN THE WORLD. PERIOD.”
A few thoughts on this story:
- First, it’s possible that the “invoice” story is complete bullshit, since it comes from a British newspaper citing an anonymous German minister. There’s no way to verify that it took place. However, after meeting with Merkel, Trump actually tweeted: “Despite what you heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” So the invoice story is definitely plausible, but it still could be made up.
- As many commentators have pointed out, Germany doesn’t owe NATO or the US anything. However, like many things Donald Trump says, there’s a kernel of truth surrounded by a dense layer of hardened bullshit. NATO allies are supposed to spend at least two percent of GDP on military spending. Germany spends 1.2 percent of GDP on its military.
- However, Germany has significantly increased military spending in the last few years to make the NATO target. As many German politicians have pointed out, you can’t just get to two percent overnight without a massive budgetary change. In contrast to other NATO countries, Germany actually is trying to meet the target. Germany never spent that much on its military post-World War II because of the Nazis and all that, so increasing military spending to two percent of GDP is unprecedented for the Federal Republic.
- In my opinion, it’s an absolute tragedy that Germany is increasing military spending. That money could go toward fixing Germany’s ailing infrastructure or alleviating Germany’s rising economic inequality. Military spending is such a terrible way for a government to spend money. The wasted potential implied by military spending gets me down. 😦
- The really idiotic thing about Trump’s demand is that it coincides with the White House announcing that they want a huge increase in US military spending. Trump’s bullying on NATO would be so much more credible if they had announced that they wanted to cut US military spending. It also would have fit with his “America First” theme. But I guess that would have been too smart an approach for this White House.
- It’s worth keeping in mind that Germany has one of the largest arms industries in the world. Weapons are one of Germany’s biggest exports, which has long belied the Federal Republic’s peacenik reputation. The defense contractors are the real winners in all of this. I wonder how much of German military spending will go to German contractors versus American ones?