For more than seven decades, NATO has been an "anchor of stability and a beacon of hope." North America and Europe have even been called "two sides of the same coin" with regard to international security interests. Since the end of World War II, the close ties between the two continents have guaranteed the security of the Western world. Yet, in early June 2020, US President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw approximately 9,700 US troops from Germany, thereby reducing the United States' military presence in the region by 30 percent. Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell explained the motives behind this momentous decision, criticizing Germany's comparably low defense spending and describing how "[US] taxpayers are getting a little bit tired of paying too much for the defense of other countries." From the US point of view, Germany, like most of Europe, has become an unreliable defense policy partner because of their insufficient financial support for NATO.
However, from a European perspective, Trump's attacks constitute a threat to the alliance's cohesion. After Trump suggested that the United States completely withdraw from NATO, a mere 11 percent of Germans trust him to respond appropriately to global developments. With Russian military activities in Ukraine endangering Europe's security from the east and Trump questioning the future of NATO from the west, the political leaders of the European Union now feel pressured to find new ways of ensuring the continent's safety. German Chancellor Angela Merkel remarked how "the times, in which we could rely on others without reservations, are over. This means that we Europeans must take our fate into our own hands, if we want to survive as a community." While Trump aims at strengthening NATO by having its members contribute an equitable amount of money, his decision to withdraw US soldiers from Germany may actually push the European Union toward developing its own military strategy. Trump's pressure might actually promote the type of European military integration that has long been proposed but never fully realized.
A Slow Start
In the 1950s, the leaders of six major European countries including Germany and France agreed to form the European Defence Community. Implementation, however, ultimately failed after a veto by the...