Bags of money

President Donald Trump is negotiating a deal in which America’s allies would pay the cost of U.S. troops stationed inside their borders, reports Bloomberg.

“Current and former administration officials briefed on the idea, who asked not to be identified discussing the program, describe it as far more advanced than is publicly known. As well as seeking more money, the administration wants to use it as a way to exert leverage on countries to do what the U.S. demands overseas,” the report said.

Trump recently remarked the U.S. spends “hundreds of millions of dollars on exercises and we don’t get reimbursed.”

“We’re spending a tremendous amount of money on many countries, protecting countries that are very rich that can certainly afford to pay us and then some,” he said.

“Those countries know that it’s not right, but nobody has ever asked them before. But I’ve asked them and we’re gaining a lot of money,” said Trump.

Bloomberg reported the administration is designing a plan that Germany, Japan and other countries hosting U.S. troops pay the costs and an addition 50 percent for the benefit of having them there.

“In some cases, nations hosting American forces could be asked to pay five to six times as much as they do now under the ‘Cost Plus 50’ formula,” the report said.

In January Trump said in a speech, “Wealth, wealthy countries that we’re protecting are all under notice. We cannot be the fools for others.”

Bloomberg said the idea that the U.S. no longer should provide billions a year in subsidies for its allies collective defense “sent shock waves” through the Defense and State departments.

“Victor Cha, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the administration was sending a deliberate message by demanding ‘Cost Plus 50’ from South Korea first, even though that effort fell short,” the report said.

“We have a more integrated military with South Korea than with any other ally. To send this message to a front-line Cold War ally is trying to say very clearly that they want a paradigm shift with the way they do host-nation support,” Cha said.

The proposed move also has prompted discussions in foreign countries about whether they want U.S. troops there.

Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, told Bloomberg it’s all about making sure allies have “skin in the game.”

He said the problem is that other nations simply assume America will provide their defense.

Democratic House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel called the plan just another “roadblock.”

The report noted Germany, where thousands of U.S. soldiers have been since stationed since World War II, pays only 28 percent of the costs, or about $1 billion a year.

Spokesman Garrett Marquis of the National Security Counsel said, “Getting allies to increase their investment in our collective defense and ensure fairer burden-sharing has been a long-standing U.S. goal.”

The objective is to get the “best deal for the American people,” he said.

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