Not every American troop withdrawal from foreign bases is a catastrophe. U.S. military assets are finite, after all, and so repositioning them from time to time can make good sense. Yet reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to withdraw 9,500 of the roughly 34,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany have caused a great deal of dismay on both sides of the Atlantic. That’s because the move is strategically nonsensical, reflects some of the pettiest and most destructive impulses of Trumpism, and reveals the deepening rot in America’s most important European relationship.

Trump’s decision didn’t come out of nowhere. The Pentagon has been studying the possibility of redeploying U.S. troops in Europe for some time. The administration has discussed shifting part of its permanent European presence to Poland, and in 2019 moved 1,000 troops there from Western Europe. Yet this doesn’t mean that the matter was well thought out, because it is hard to discern any meaningful strategic rationale behind Trump’s choice.

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