In the view of European officials, the United States has gone from being an indispensable ally to an undependable one. All in less than four years under the Trump administration.

The case in point is Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw troops from Germany as a result of Angela Merkel’s not agreeing to attend a Group of 7 meeting Trump wants to host in July.

Merkel represents everything Trump loathes: globalism, multilateralism, international law.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, the German Marshall Fund

She is also a powerful woman and a quantum physicist —a female powerhouse who won’t quietly take his bad behavior, and, worse yet, a scientist. In fact, she may actually be a stable genius.

Trump’s impulsive decision to withdraw troops plays right into Russia’s goal of destabilizing the West. With Britain’s exit from the European Union, a less robust military presence in the EU’s most influential country represents a critical injury to the trans-Atlantic alliance that has defined the post-WWII era.

Furthermore, the presence of American troops in Germany is not to defend that country, but part of an overall collective stability and security for Europe as a whole and a critical part of America’s global military footprint.

The threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened US commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism.

Congressman Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee, R-Texas

Indeed, the revelation this week that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban for attacking American troops in Afghanistan is but the latest evidence that Russia continues to be our enemy.

During his Foreign Service career during the Cold War, my father, Robert C. Amerson, studied NATO. It was part of his 1960-61 year at the Bologna Center, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His class cohort included both American graduate students and career government professionals. A handful were American foreign service officers; the rest were an international mix. Crucial information and relationships were cemented during the year.

My parents, my sister and I in Bologna, 1960

My father’s year at the Bologna Center expanded across Europe that spring when the class traveled to Paris to visit the recently re-located headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. 

Barely a dozen years old, NATO had grown out of post-war economic and security needs among the nations of Western Europe. Washington viewed an economically strong and rearmed Europe as a key Cold War bulwark against communist expansion. The Soviet control of East Germany and the Soviet-sponsored coup in Czechoslovakia gave rise to real concerns that Western Europe would be similarly co-opted. 

The Marshall Plan addressed economic development with a massive influx of aid and the NATO agreement addressed the region’s collective security —  members were sworn to consider an attack upon one as an attack upon all. NATO put the United States on the side of Western Europe, while the Soviets held the East under the Warsaw Treaty. 

Italy’s significant communist party gave its membership in NATO strategic importance. The United States became concerned that a winning leftist coalition would pull Italy into the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. It was rumored that the new Central Intelligence Agency had intervened to support the pro-American Christian Democrats against the pro-Moscow Socialist Democrats. A monumental anti-Communist letter-writing campaign promoted from the pulpit of Italian-American Catholic Churches and the American-backed coalition took the election. 

Imagine the conversations in Dad’s course on Soviet History as the Bolognese professor laid out these issues. How freeing it was for him to be a student and not a spokesperson for a year.

WHEN THE DICTATOR FLEW OVER OUR HOUSE & OTHER TRUE STORIES, Jane Kelly Amerson Lopez (work in progress)

Ah, well, back to the present.

Last week, President Trump reiterated that he is moving troops out of Germany and into Poland. In terms that he himself has stated, maybe the Poles love him more.

The Poles have even offered to name the facility Fort Trump.

Marc Thiessen, The Washington Post

Meanwhile, the European Union is keeping its doors closed to Americans. It’s less about troops and more about the raging coronavirus pandemic in the United State, but, either way, this is all about Trump’s lack of leadership.

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