The Folly of Abandoning Europe

The Case Against U.S. Retreat

U.S. troops during a military exercise in Rukla, Lithuania, May 2014. Ints Kalnins / REUTERS

It is chest-thumping time in Europe. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the new voice of America, has threatened the country’s allies of 70 years: Pay up or we ship out—no more freeloading on Uncle Sam. Actually, there isn’t that much left to cull, given the work of outgoing President Barack Obama, who whittled the American garrison down to 30,000, or one-tenth of what it once was.

The allies, just now coming out of shock, have gone into fighting mode, arguing that if Trump is not going to protect them (even as he cozies up to Russian President Vladimir Putin), then they must unshackle themselves from their grating dependence on the United States. Invoking the Trump presidency, the United Kingdom’s defense minister, Michael Fallon, called for “spending more.” His German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, wants to seize the moment, too. “Europe,” she said, “must shoulder greater responsibility.” Austria’

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