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Trump claims a new demand to extract billions of dollars from US allies

John Hudson National security reporter focusing on the State Department and diplomacy. Dan Lamothe Reporter covering the Pentagon and the US military March 9 at 1:18 PM In private discussions with his assistants, President Trump has designed an instant formula to address one of his long-standing complaint: that Allies host US forces do not pay Washington enough money. Under the formula, the countries would pay the full cost of stationing US troops on their territory, plus 50 percent more, US and foreign officials said familiarly Trump calls the formula "cost plus 50" and it has fears in the heart of American Allies who see it as extortionate. Rumors that all allies contribute five times what they provide. The formula could become a global standard, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which hosted thousands of forces, and American officials have mentioned the demand for at least one country in a formal negotiating attitude, saying people knew about it. Spokesman Garrett Marquis said the Trump administration "intends to get the best for the American people" but would not comment on "on ongoing deliberations on specific ideas". Trump has long complained that the US and NATO ally freeeload on US military protection, but the cost plus 50 form has only gained traction in recent months, said current and former US officials who like others talked about anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. . [19659010] It is not a formal proposal or policy, but acts as a type of "maximum billing" that is partly designed…

In private discussions with his assistants, President Trump has designed an instant formula to address one of his long-standing complaint: that Allies host US forces do not pay Washington enough money.

Under the formula, the countries would pay the full cost of stationing US troops on their territory, plus 50 percent more, US and foreign officials said familiarly

Trump calls the formula “cost plus 50” and it has fears in the heart of American Allies who see it as extortionate.

Rumors that all allies contribute five times what they provide. The formula could become a global standard, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which hosted thousands of forces, and American officials have mentioned the demand for at least one country in a formal negotiating attitude, saying people knew about it.

Spokesman Garrett Marquis said the Trump administration “intends to get the best for the American people” but would not comment on “on ongoing deliberations on specific ideas”.

Trump has long complained that the US and NATO ally freeeload on US military protection, but the cost plus 50 form has only gained traction in recent months, said current and former US officials who like others talked about anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. . [19659010] It is not a formal proposal or policy, but acts as a type of “maximum billing” that is partly designed to draw attention to a problem that speaks of Trump’s claim that allies should have greater responsibility for their own defense, said.

One of the first US allies confronting the Trump administration’s hardball tactics was South Korea, which last month agreed to pay $ 925 million for hosting 28,500 US troops. This was an increase of 8.2 percent from the previous year’s payment and about half of the total costs. South Korean officials preferred a five-year deal, but the deal only covers one, which means they could face a pressure to face Trump’s cost-effective demand next year.

An American military official said the US forces Korea had “sweated” the signing of a new agreement for months.

There are many breeding ideas that float around, and Trump has not decided anyone, officials said.

Burden-sharing debate

Although it may be a red herring, the phrase “cost plus 50” has appeared on informal list of alternatives, an official said. But it is not clear which Trump advisors mean by “cost”, if it is the whole budget to run a base and pay US armed forces or any part of it.

U.S. Allied United States military installations pay for some of the costs in different ways. Japan and South Korea make cash contributions while Germany supports US troop presence through in-kind contributions such as land, infrastructure and construction, in addition to advance duties and taxes.

Trump has called the “in-kind” grant inadequate, a leading US diplomat said.

For decades, leading foreign policy figures in both parties have urged US allies to take greater responsibility for their security, but even strong advocates of burden sharing have questioned Trump’s approach.

“Trump is right that US allies should have more responsibility for collective defense, but demanding protection money from them is the wrong way to do it,” said Stephen Walt, a researcher of international relations at Harvard University. “Our armed forces are not mercenaries, and we should not send US troops to harm just because another country is paying us.”

The cost plus 50 idea would probably not be presented as a blanket requesting all allies, even though Trump stopped writing it, several people who knew the elements of the discussion said. Many of his top helpers oppose the formula and have succeeded in the past to bring him down from the maximum course of action, the people said.

The presence of Trump’s formula was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Critics of American bases around the world say that the bases are costly, stoke tensions with opponents and have unintended consequences. The Pentagon expects its 54,000 troops in Japan and its presence in South Korea to project power and discourage North Korea and China.

In Germany, where the Pentagon has more than 33,000 troops, the US Army announced last year that it could add 1,500 more by 2020 in “a demonstration of our continued commitment to NATO and our collective determination to support European security.”

An “Incorrect Explanation”

Trump’s idea has been rumored in European capitals for several months, although European diplomats said they knew of no formal presentations or threats from the White House. Such a proposal seems mainly to be addressed to Germany, subject to frequent Trump complaints about NATO defense and what he says is an unfair German dependence on US forces for his defense.

Trump does not accept the argument that US forces in Germany are a strategic asset to the United States and perhaps an overall cost saving as they help facilitate US military action in the Middle East and Africa as well as on the European continent, said former US officials.

This link is due to the discussion on billing Germany for the cost of basing forces there and some previous advisers had hoped they could steer Trump against a broader picture of what the United States is getting from the arrangement. American lives that would otherwise have been lost on the battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, for example, are often saved at Landstuhl’s military hospital in Germany.

“When he says” Thirty Thousand US Forces Protect Germany “It is a completely erroneous explanation of what US forces in Germany are there,” said retired Director-General Ben Hodges III, in an autumn interview as Trump’s rhetoric on the issue heated. Hodges resolved the president’s complaint about the number of US forces in Germany – more than 30,000 – and threats to reduce or move forces, not the specific idea of ​​billing Germany.

The advantage for the United States cannot be measured in the business ways Trump sets it, Hodges said, who served as Secretary General of the US Army in Europe. “As with our base in Ramstein, this is a platform for power projections in the Middle East, Africa, Russia.”

Emma Ashford, a researcher at the Liberal Cato Institute, agrees with Trump that the US military is overflowing but says his latest gambit is the wrong tactic.

“The solution to America’s unbalanced commitment to rich allies is to gradually shift the burden and remove the troops,” she said. “Not to keep US troops there and charge them as if they were mercenaries.”

The discussion will as allies prepare for the annual summit this summer, where Trump has twice told Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel over his country’s defense contribution. Trump routinely suspects the NATO funding arrangement and defense spending goals, but Germany acknowledges that it has not met the threshold of spending 2% of the gross domestic product on defense.

Trump could undermine efforts to increase European NATO defense spending if he starts demanding bilateral payments, says Jeffrey Rathke, president of the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

“The United States, including during the Trump administration, has been very successful in convincing Germany and other NATO allies that they need to contribute more to their own defense,” says Rathke. “This is possible because spending is focused on a common NATO targets, and it is collective defense “, which is more politically tasty in Western Europe.

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