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Skeptics of America’s involvement in NATO are increasingly hopeful that a future president, such as Donald Trump, will refocus on Asia or bring resources and troops back home. To properly adjust America’s presence in Europe, three steps should be taken. Firstly, the new administration must act swiftly with executive orders to shift troops out of Germany. Secondly, they must emphasize the intention to disengage from Europe through all foreign policy decision-making processes. Lastly, legislative measures should be pursued to solidify and future-proof these changes against potential reversals by subsequent administrations.

For Europe to take America’s disengagement seriously, the new administration must strike a balance between firmness and encouragement. A clear presidential proclamation should communicate America’s commitment to withdrawal, while also reassuring Europe that support is available for their defense efforts. European leaders, often complacent in their reliance on American military presence, must be convinced to take more responsibility for European defense. Ambassadors to NATO countries should be tasked with conveying this message to their respective publics to garner support for the changes.

To ensure that the changes are not easily undone by future administrations, legislative actions should be taken whenever possible. Potential laws should be pursued to solidify the executive orders and presidential declarations, while also challenging existing legislation that may hinder the disengagement process. Updates to the North Atlantic Treaty itself should be considered, including requirements for new members to meet certain defense spending criteria and burden-sharing agreements. These measures would not only solidify the changes but also challenge the notion that NATO is an unchangeable institution.

The proposed changes are significant and would mark a departure from the conventional approach to America’s involvement in NATO. American interventionists often regard the North Atlantic Treaty as a sacred text that cannot be challenged or altered. By implementing these changes, the new administration can demonstrate that NATO is not an immutable entity and that adjustments are necessary to reflect changing global dynamics. The success of these measures may vary, but the mere act of challenging established norms within NATO would be a noteworthy development in American foreign policy.

Anthony J. Constantini, a contributing fellow at Defense Priorities, emphasizes the importance of reevaluating America’s role in NATO. His recommendations for swift action, strategic communication with European allies, and legislative measures aim to ensure that America’s involvement in NATO reflects current realities and serves the best interests of both the United States and its allies. Challenging conventional wisdom and finding common ground will be essential in navigating the complex dynamics of transatlantic relationships in the 21st century.

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