The Deeply Disturbing Trump-Merkel Press Conference

Last week’s Trump-Merkel Press Conference was disturbing on several levels. Worst of all was the scene of a German Chancellor listening to an American president boast about how strong his military is, and how much stronger it soon will be. Not that long ago in historical terms, Germany was a country that stressed military dominance. Two lost world wars cured Germany of its militarism. American militarism has taken its place.

As Trump responded to questions, again and again he returned to the U.S. military, vowing that he’s going to strengthen it from its “depleted” condition, perhaps to a level of power that “we’ve never seen before.”

America as a country is “very strong, very strong,” said Trump, a “very powerful company/country,” and soon the US military would be “stronger,” and “perhaps far stronger than ever before.” Naturally, the president added that he hoped he wouldn’t have to use that “far stronger” military, even as the US military garrisons the globe at more than 700 bases while launching ongoing attacks against “radical Islamic terrorism” (Trump loves enunciating those three words) in places like Yemen.

This coming year, Trump is enlarging the military with a fresh influx of $54 billion. “My generals,” as Trump likes to refer to James Mattis and John Kelly and Company, support him in part because he’s boosting military spending. But will they continue to support Trump and his advisers like Steve Bannon when the President uses that “much stronger” military in unwise ways?

When you forge a bigger hammer, you tend not to leave it unused in the tool shed. No — you look for bigger nails to strike. As Trump noted at the press conference, he’s not an isolationist. “Fake news,” he said.

That Trump, with his “far stronger” military, is not an isolationist is disturbing “real” news indeed. Small wonder that the German Chancellor looked discomfited; her country has seen it all before.

What price military dominance? Perhaps Chancellor Merkel could explain that to President Trump, if only he’d listen.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

  • The US military budget is constantly going up, year after year. It is not simply keeping pace with inflation. It is taking up an ever greater share of all discretionary spending. When Trump or anyone else claims it is “depleted”, people should ask “Oh yeah? So what depleted it?” Ending the practice of continual warfare, justified by claims that are neither good nor true, is an obvious way to help avoid future depletion.

  • Esmerelda Kerr

    With due respect to the author, instead of POTUS Trump’s alpha male lingo to the 2nd most rabid German Chancellor Merkel who has literally led her own people, culture and country into a nightmare of extermination through humanitarian rhetoric; one might wonder why this “humanitarian compassion” could not be extended to Greece, for one, where people really are starving.

    While Merkel looked wise and deft until she revealed her Final Solution for the hapless German people groveling beneath the GUILT belonging to their GRANDPARENTS for WWII atrocities, representing the NWO of totalitarian one world government which was also Chancellor Hitler’s “dream.” While this idea is being supported by many around the world, its serious deficiencies have yet to be acknowledged by the leaders of the EU. The machinations for its birth this time around has involved decades of stealth undermining of economies through inflation, uncontrolled immigration deflating wages and wealth only amongst the 5% and up.

    While President Trump may have been somewhat insensitive, he also may have been clearly letting this Chancellor know that her power does not and will not impede the resurrection of America as an independent nation not relying upon vassal European states to “aid” it.

    I too am disappointed with the military budget and the already committed more troops to the ME. I am hoping this is a temporary necessity to clean up the messes left behind by the Bushes’ and Obama’s imperialist agendas to make the ME reorganized for the NWO of one world government. If not temporary, then I only have to know beyond any doubt that the 2016 election of the expected female US POTUS would have been a continuation of escalated destruction for both Americans and Middle Eastern peoples as the humanitarian rhetoric reached screeching levels of delusional fakery.

  • Luchorpan

    There’d be more money for the military if we closed bases around the world.

    Merkel wants Trump’s powerful military. She wants him to pay for Germany’s defence.

    Trump does not appear to want to use the military excessively. We’ll see how he handles Iran and N. Korea – and the preexisting quagmires.

    • Don

      Just the exact opposite of the truth on Merkel’s ambitions. Where did this new spin come from?

      And then, Trump’s actions so far are telling us that he’s completely intent on using the military excessively. He’s escalated the rhetoric on N.Korea, he’s promised to destroy the deal with Iran, and he’s sending more US troops to interfere with the pending peace in Syria.

    • RMS145

      “Merkel wants Trump’s powerful military. She wants him to pay for Germany’s defence.”

      On what do you base that on? Nothing in what she has said or done points in that direction. Domestically (in Germany) increased Military spending is not exactly a vote winner due to the lack of any real military threats anywhere within 1000km of Germany

      • Luchorpan

        Nevertheless, Germany doesn’t pay its share of NATO expenses. And the US still has troops in Germany.

        If Germany does’t need protection, then why the heck aren’t American troops kicked out of the sovereign state of Germany?

        • RMS145

          Because even if the German government would like the Troops to leave, it is not allowed to do so.

          Germany’s military budget is being increased to meat the 2% goal that had been decided last year.

          If they don’t, maybe Trump could do the German People a favour and kick them out of NATO, sure Poland and the UK will have minor heart attacks but it would be sensible in the long run.

          • Luchorpan

            Who prevents Germany from doing anything? Germany is in such a powerful position, I expect it could just boot the US out. The US wouldn’t attack Germany.

            No one truly believes Germans are at risk of fascism. That’s just said to bully Germans.

  • BrotherJonah

    We have more war materiel than the next 10 countries with less. We have an army of 3 million. (that counts all military as “army”) and our spending outstrips the ratio between our existing materiel and the next 10.
    Add in the war toys “we” sold to NATO and Saudia and Israel and Jordan and a global bazaar worth of other countries. Eisenhower, before selling his soul to the MIC, warned about the rise of the MIC with his Cross of Iron speech. More than 60 years ago. That’s just a start. Every president I remember, and that includes Johnson, popped off with the challenge to God Himself “we have the mightiest army the world has ever seen”

    • Actually, Eisenhower’s warning about the Military Industrial Complex came in his farewell address nearly eight years after the Cross of Iron speech.

      • Don

        Actually the cross of iron speech was all about the military industrial complex, not spelt out until later.
        But please, don’t go negative on Brother Jonah, he’s one of the few honest antiwar posters left on this site with a high enough degree of intelligence to rise above the Raimondo pap.

        • The Cross of Iron speech certainly alludes indirectly to the military industrial complex, among other things. Any speech proposing disarmament would have to. But the speech wasn’t anything like “all about” the military industrial complex, a term that Eisenhower pulled out eight years later when it was apparent that his agenda as expressed in the Cross of Iron speech had been killed by that complex.

          • Don

            I get your point. Even though the cross of iron speech is directly related in every word to the MIC. But that’s not the part I found important. It’s that it appears that you are intent on shi–ing on people who share our common cause. You’ll seem more on that in my other comment.

          • Yes, because pointing out a simple fact is “shitting” on someone.

          • Don

            Thomas, it wasn’t limited to just that one comment; you’ve been demonstrating to me that you’re holding some animosity toward my efforts that are in line with our antiwar cause. As I said before, I’m pissing you off for some reason and I don’t know what it is. I really do have to think that you’re not convinced that Trump is a complete fu–ing lying rat and you have some sympathy with Raimondo’s line of bull–it.

          • “I’m pissing you off for some reason and I don’t know what it is.”

            Oh, well that’s easily remedied: You babble nonsense constantly and repetitively; I find that, at turns, boring and annoying.

            As far as what you “have to think” is concerned, I really don’t give a rat’s ass what you think. I’ve been quite clear and quite consistent in stating my opinions.

          • lysander

            There is a memo in appendix a of Seymour Melman’s Pentagon Capitalism that was drafted by this same Eisenhower fella that kinda of encourages, if not outright establishes, the MIC’s continuation into the post-war era. Or at least that is how I always felt about it. Have never heard much mention of it, but it kinda of soured me on respecting the cat. It also makes me wonder how critical he ever was of the MIC in office or how serious he was about criticizing it other than in a “at least I tried” at the end of his administration when he couldn’t really make any reforms anyway!

            It’s like hearing an apology from the developer of Skynet after the apocalypse has already happened.

  • CuriousNC

    Merkel learned a valuable lesson from World War II. Let other people fight your wars for you and then you join in after victory is assured like the US did. All Merkel is doing is trying to get Trump to use his nice new big hammer on Russia while avoiding paying her 2% share of the hammer.

    All Merkel can teach is how to psychologically manipulate a political class that is full of itself. Tony Blair would be a better teacher at manipulating the US into doing stupid things. Trump is her greatest task yet. How to get him to be completely hostile towards Russia while not putting her 2% in is her greatest challenge. The last thing she would want is the US to stop being a tool while there is still life left in it.

    • Don

      How quaint! You think that Germany wants the US to fight a war against Russia!
      And this obviously comes out of you remembering Trump’s silly words on making Nato countries pay more?
      Oh wait, Trump is going to disband Nato because it’s outdated!
      Sure!

      • CuriousNC

        Yes, I do think Germany wants the US to fight a war with Russia just like I think Israel and Saudi Arabia want the US to fight a war with Iran. They wouldn’t be crying about Russia and American rapprochement otherwise. Why wouldn’t they want their enemies to destroy each other?

        Trump isn’t going to make them pay but he isn’t going to be sufficiently hostile towards Russia. He hasn’t shot Russian planes down in Syria yet nor the ships off America’s coast. I just don’t think he will feel inclined to shoot down a Russian plane for a government that isn’t putting in its 2%. The Europeans are agitating for war and why wouldn’t they want someone else fight it and pay for it. I do believe Trump was serious when he said other countries were taking advantage of the US. He understands that the US is 20 trillion in debt and the Empire needs aid in maintaining itself. He says those things about NATO because he wants them to put their 2% in because eventually the US won’t be able to afford it any longer. Its his way of begging for tribute. Trump’s problem is that there is no mechanism (none that I know of) in place to make other countries pay the US tribute. Instead he is getting derision from Germany for asking for money while getting marching orders to go after Russia.

        • Please stop saying “Germany” when you mean POLITICIANS.

          • CuriousNC

            When people talk about countries they are referring to the ruling class.

          • Tonyandoc

            So, the term should be Congressional, rather than US, military. That certainly adds clarity.

          • lysander

            We are the nation state and the nation state is us. Or Neegan I suppose.

        • RMS145

          Please tell me on what you base that theory, because from where I am sitting in Germany I get the exact opposite picture – despite the Media trying, unsuccessfully, to whip up anti-russian sentiment the majority would prefer for the US to call off the anti-russian Campaign and start trade again. In Germany everyone above the age of 30 knows that any war with Russia will mean total nuclear destruction of the country, either by the US or by Russia.

          • CuriousNC

            I base a lot of it on German Defense Minister Von der Leyen.

      • beard681

        Merkel and her media shills are certainly taking a page from the DNC in claiming Russian “interference” in upcoming elections. If Germany doesn’t feel antipathy towards Russia why are German tanks rolling eastward through Poland as we speak?

        • Don

          You and CuriousNC are two good examples of how support of Trump is leading the world closer to a nuclear war. You both seem to be confusing Nato’s intentions with Germany’s intentions and that’s a fatal mistake.

          Nato’s intentions are the US’s intention because Nato is the US, or more correctly, Nato is the military arm of the US which is being used to legitimize US wars throughout the world. All of your misunderstanding is likely founded in Trump’s few words about disbanding Nato or that Nato was obsolete.

          He was simply full of bullsh-t on both. First, he has no intention og disbanding Nato. Nato is of more use to the US goal now than any time in the past.

          And secondly, Nato is not obsolete for that very reason. It can only be said that Nato is obsolete in name only. Trump understood none of that at the time he thought he could make it an issue. Now he understands. And facts on the ground prove that he understands.

          Please try to get over your misconceptions. It’s not other countries throughout Europe or other Nato countries that are intent on more wars, it’s your own country that is.

  • backformore

    Germany didn’t “stress” military dominance as the author of this article claims. Read Pat Buchanan’s “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War”. In it, he makes abundantly clear and backs up with provenance that when England and France declared war on Germany in 1939, Germany’s military was in no way prepared to fight a world war. At the time, they were mainly interested in correcting the gross injustices of the Versailles Treaty and protecting their citizens in Poland from atrocities being perpetuated by the Polish government.

  • beard681

    On a per capita basis Germany far and away is the greatest mercantilist trading partner running huge trade surpluses. American workers are unemployed due to German intransigence and domination of the EU, not anything Russia does. That should be more than enough reason for rethinking NATO.

  • Anti-Empire

    Silly article.
    In fact Reagan built up the military and only used it for minor forays three times as Pat Buchanan informs us.
    The military industrial security complex consumed about $1 trillion before Trump. Now it will consume about $1.054 trillion. Some people are making a bigger fuss over the 0.054 than the 1.
    Incredible!

    • And some people keep insisting that if we close our eyes, click our heels together, and say “there’s no place like MURKA” over and over, Trump will magically become something other than business as usual.

    • BrotherJonah

      I personally don’t count on any prophecies made by Buchanan. It’s not like he’s ever been the Voice of God. But he does have a following who believe something similar.