Diplomats and politicians in Europe are abuzz with worry around the newest threat to the status quo: President Trump’s foreign policy stance. Thus far, Trump has taken an abrasive, standoff stance towards trade and military negotiations, arguably gaining leverage when it comes to facing off with European leaders. But it has recently come out that the US Department of Defense is conducting studies to analyze the cost-effectiveness of pulling American troops out of Europe. The potential threat of ending the long-standing US military presence in Europe adds a new twist to the already complicated dynamic between the Trump administration and leaders across the European continent.
As it stands, there are presently 60,000 troops stationed across Europe, providing a necessary defensive capability in Europe, while also enabling the native countries of Europe to spend significantly lower amounts of their GDP on defense for themselves. Unfortunately, the cost is largely on the American taxpayer, including the costs incurred by leases held on many overseas US military bases. In the meantime, defense costs in EU nations continue to fall, to the detriment of their own military forces. For example, the German military has been noted using black painted broomsticks in lieu of weapons during multi-national training exercises.
But the threat to pull US troops out is not ill-founded: the arrangement that formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) obligates all members to devote at least 2% of their GDP to NATO defense, a requirement that almost none of the other member nations besides the US have taken up, despite it being such a small amount. The fact of the matter is, American taxpayers have been paying for European defense, while Europeans themselves have been able to greatly expand government programs. All the while demanding further intervention to put pressure on growing Russian aggression.
In the end, pulling troops out of Europe may be the best thing to happen for European countries, and the US taxpayers. On the one hand, it will allow European countries the opportunity to stand on their own when it comes to defense, and also save the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year. While it will unquestionably change the dynamic between American and European countries, it very well could be for the better. After all, what benefit does the American military, much less the American public, receive from keeping troops stationed across the European continent? In pulling the troops out of Europe, or at least threatening to, America has everything to gain, and Europe has everything to lose. As foreign interventionism goes, this is a great potential step against it.
You can read more by William Gadsden here.