The U.S. relationship with Europe is one that dates back prior to the outbreak of WWI and has continually been redefined by Russia. In the militaristic sense, its origins lay back to the aftermath of WWII and the second Red Scare. It was in these times that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was formed in 1949.
Between 1947 and 1948, several events occurred led to the creation of NATO: rising tensions in Turkey, the start of a communist civil war in Greece. Harry S. Truman, US president at the time, looked at these violent civil insurrections as a direct consequence of post-war recessions coupled with dangerous Russian influence.
At its core, NATO was intended to stop the threat of any Russian influence and military action in the region, in combination with the Truman Doctrine (in the form of economic relief to many European nations). For the latter half of the 20th century, NATO fulfilled this promise, but just as it was tested strongly during the Cold War in recent history, NATO today is taking on perhaps its biggest challenge to its viability that it has ever faced.
The once iron-strong relationship connecting the advanced western world is slowly crumbling as more and more countries, like Great Britain and the United States, seek to sever their ties to other countries for the sake of their own dynamism, when just a few decades ago their relationship was seen as the source of their prosperity. Trump’s recent actions of withdrawing 11,900 US troops from Germany may just be the start.
It's clear that President Trump’s actions come from a myopic perspective, an attempt to rally some sort of bipartisan support from people who at a distance see this an action aiming towards isolationism; an action to cut unnecessary military spending. Even as these may be actual problems to address, withdrawing this number of troops from Germany is not just damaging the reputation of the United States and making the “world less secure,” as said by John Bolton former United States Ambassador to the UN, but it is neither addressing the issues that it is supposed to address in the first place.
Cabinet members like Mike Esper, Trump's Secretary of Defense, state reasons like "Germany is the wealthiest country in Europe”, alluding that “Germany… should pay more to its defense." Dull statements like these don’t give us the full context. The reality is that “yes,” Germany does only pay 1.38% of the NATO country commitment of 2%, but neither do Belgium and Italy; two countries that will be receiving U.S. troops from Germany. Aside from this, the plan is projected to cost the pentagon billions of taxpayer dollars.
Self evidently, the cause of this sudden move is more political than strategic in nature; a political move meant to signal to all European nations a slow coming end to American backed military aid to the region. With Russia’s relationship with Trump being as tight as it has ever been and China becoming the focal point of American fear-mongering, the future of NATO is currently in unsteady hands.
To anyone who fears Russian influence and their increasing militarization, this action by Trump must be taken, maybe not as a direct aid toward Russia but a foolish action of apathy towards them. Because if it is not clear already, the only one aided by this decision is Russia, and the only ones weakened by it are the United States and NATO.