by N. Peter Kramer
President Trump’s decision to withdraw 10.000 US troops from Germany perplexed the European NATO allies. But let us be honest. The fact of the matter is that the Europe of today is not the Europe of 1965, when hundreds of thousands of US troops were stationed in Germany to protect the western half of the continent from Soviet encroachment.
The current US military presence is based on a reality that no longer exists. Far from being the weak and vulnerable region it was in the fifties and early sixties of the last century, today Europe is one of the most wealthy and sophisticated regions in the world. And this despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit countries around the world just as severely as Europe.
The military expenditure by Europe’s NATO countries is nearly five times larger than Russia’s. And the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) is nearly ten times larger than Moscow’s. Not all EU member states are NATO allies (Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Austria are not for instance), but non-EU countries as the UK, Norway and Iceland are. So the European NATO states have sufficient resources and wherewithal to take responsibility for the defense of their own continent.
What they do not have is the will to do so! It may be that a US withdrawal from Germany incentivises Europe to find the will power. To do so could prove to be the change of direction in burden sharing for Europe’s own security; no longer leaving the US taxpayer to foot the major part of the NATO bill.