Ben Sasse Rails Against Trump for Troop Withdrawal, Calls Him 'Weak'

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool
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Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)


Ben Sasse has come out of hiding to comment on Trump’s recent decision to pull a few thousand troops out of Germany. In a scathing commentary, he called the President “weak” and pronounced the move as helping Russia. He also claimed the move will embolden China.

The usual suspects lined up to announce their support for Sasse’s position.

You know what I’m failing to see in any of these scathing rebukes? An actual argument for how reducing troop levels from 30,000 to 24,000 in Germany harms U.S. interests at all. That’s a common theme among foreign policy hawks. They never take the time to actually support their position, instead falling back on hyperbole and generalized appeals to machoism (which they typically hate from Trump). Calling someone “weak” is not an argument. It’s certainly not an argument when dealing with something as serious as troop deployments.

It is not 1975 anymore. Germany does not border the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union no longer exists. Keeping troops there does nothing to stop modern day Russia from antagonizing its neighbors. Even as a forward operating base, it’s no longer uniquely necessary.


Worse for Sasse, though, is that he fails to point out that most of these troops are planned to be put in Poland, which actually does border Russia, once the new defense treaty is done. Someone trying to give an honest account of the situation would point that out. Why would anyone get mad at troops being deployed closer to Russia if the point is to deter Russia?

As I’ve written on before, our relationship with Germany borders on ridiculous. They trash us constantly while demanding we pay for their defense. Meanwhile, they enrich Russia through energy contracts. It makes no sense at all for us to continue the status quo when Germany won’t lift a finger to help themselves and are actually helping prop up the very threat we are supposed to be protecting them from. Their GDP spending on defense last year was again well under 2%, far from the commitment they’ve made.

Allowing the United States to be walked all over may be something Sasse supports, but I think most Americans don’t. There is no logical argument against this troop withdrawal and repositioning. That’s why you get emotion pleas like Sasse makes here.

If he wants 35,000 troops in Germany, he should lay out in detail why they are more effective there than someone else and how exactly they are deterring Russia in any real sense. Did they deter them from invading Crimea? Have they deterred them from meddling in Afghanistan? In the Middle East? A person capable of critical thinking would be forgiven for asking why Sasse’s chosen method of deterrence is so ineffective and why it should continue.


Common sense foreign policy says if something obviously isn’t working, it should be reviewed and changed. Speaking for myself, I’m not an isolationist in the least. I have no principled objection to foreign troop deployments. But I’m also a pragmatist and I care about whether something makes sense or not. Yet so many Republicans still hold to the same old view of foreign policy that has led us to disaster over and over.  The sooner that rigid nonsense leaves the party, the better.



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