The German elections are heating up and as happens all around the world, the underdog in the race for Chancellor is making some rather, er… bold claims. Martin Schulz (Social Democrats) is hoping to replace Angela Merkel, and while his prospects looked somewhat better last spring, he’s now trailing her badly. So how does one win over those uncertain voters and make a serious run at victory in the final stretch? By going after Germany’s most important ally the United States of course.

It’s not a direct assault on our country, but suggesting that he would “remove” all of our nuclear weapons (assuming we still have them there) is an odd way to treat your friends. (LA Times)

In a bid to jump-start his flagging campaign to lead Germany, Martin Schulz of the center-left Social Democrats has made a startling campaign promise, saying he would remove U.S. nuclear weapons from the country if he became chancellor.

Feeding on widespread fears among Germans of a possible conflict after President Trump’s recent exchange of tough talk with North Korea, Schulz ratcheted up his anti-nuclear weapons language at a campaign rally late Tuesday.

He called for the removal of about 20 U.S. nuclear warheads that according to German media reports are believed to be stationed in the western part of Germany — until now largely forgotten vestiges of the Cold War that ended nearly 30 years ago. Government officials have not confirmed the presence of nuclear warheads in Germany.

First of all, do we actually still have nukes in Germany? Such things aren’t always discussed in polite company but the answer is probably yes. Under a NATO weapons sharing agreement we’ve supposedly been storing up to five dozen nuclear bombs (not missiles) at a couple of locations in what was formerly West Germany. (Prior to reunification.) These could, in theory, be delivered by German bombers in the event of war.

So perhaps this is a campaign talking point for Schulz, but is anyone making an issue out of it? I’m guessing probably not. This has been the status quo since the early days of the cold war and it hasn’t caused the Germans any problems. More likely what we’re seeing is a politician who is trying to oust one of his former allies and is stuck nearly 15 points down in the polls. At that point you begin grasping at straws and scrambling to find a wedge issue to isolate your opponent. This doesn’t sound like a very good candidate, though.

If the Germans were to latch onto this idea it would be an exercise in annoying the United States for absolutely no reason. They’ve already had a rocky relationship with President Trump over military spending and trade deals. Do they really want to toss another (nuclear) log on that fire? If Schulz somehow stages a miraculous comeback in the polls I suppose we’ll find out.