As Trump Attacks Impeachment Witnesses, America’s Alliances Are Falling Apart
The United States’ relationships with South Korea and Japan appear to be in trouble as the countries attempt to hammer out cost-sharing agreements related to their military alliances, recent news reports have indicated.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Trump administration officials walked away from talks with South Korea, blaming the country for refusing to cave to President Donald Trump’s demand that they pay roughly $5 billion toward the cost of U.S. troops stationed on the peninsula.
James DeHart, the top U.S. negotiator, said the South Koreans “were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing.”
“As a result we cut short our participation in the talks today in order to give the Korea side time to reconsider,” he said. “We look forward to resuming our negotiations when the Korean side is ready to work on the basis of partnership, on the basis of mutual trust.”
The Post reported that South Korea had agreed to “pay about $890 million toward the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country, a little more than 40 percent of the day-to-day expenses,” noting that it also “provides land for bases rent-free, paid more than 90 percent of the $10.7 billion cost of moving the main U.S. base out of Seoul, and buys significant amounts of U.S. military equipment.”
Trump’s demand that the country pay nearly $5 billion “would imply South Korea was effectively not only being asked to cover local costs but also the entire wage bill for the U.S. troops,” the newspaper said.
South Korean lawmakers were incensed by Trump’s demands, and there is no sign that the country will budge on the issue in a manner that will please the president.
Meanwhile, South Korea and China “have agreed to develop their security ties to ensure stability in north-east Asia,” The Telegraph reported on Sunday, interpreting the development as “the latest indication that Washington’s long-standing alliances in the region are fraying.”
Japan finds itself in a similar situation, with Trump demanding that the U.S. ally increase its spending toward the U.S. military presence on the island from $2 billion to $8 billion each year.
Daniel Pinkston, a professor of international relations at the Seoul campus of Troy University, told The Telegraph that Trump’s actions can be categorized as “extortion.”
“It’s little more than a mob boss going around and demanding protection money,” he said. “The numbers that the US is demanding are politically impossible for Seoul and Tokyo to swallow and that is just fuelling resentment."