Dangerous remarks from TrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump mentioned the possibility of endorsing nuclear armament of South Korea and Japan — not to mention the withdrawal of U.S. Forces — if he is elected president of the United States. According to the New York Times interview with the front runner, on diplomacy and security policies, Trump answered, “Not happily, but the answer is yes” when asked if he would be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops.
Although Trump has been criticizing South Korea for not significantly contributing to the security on the Korean Peninsula, it is shocking that he raised the possibility of a pullout of U.S. Forces. His remarks totally shake mutual trust — the most pivotal element in the alliance. If he ever becomes president, it will most likely affect the decades-old alliance between Seoul and Washington.
When asked if he would oppose nuclear armament of South Korea and Japan, he said that the moment will arrive when America cannot play its role as a defender anymore. That strongly hints at the possibility that he would approve of the nuclear armament of South Korea and Japan if elected president. His views stemming from a critical lack of understanding about the alliance and security issues — are utterly short-sighted. The United States approving its allies’ own nuclear path while giving up on its provision of a nuclear umbrella on the pretext of increasing defense costs will only make security in Northeast Asia more precarious.
If Japan pushes for nuclear armament to become a military power, it will break the security order and jolt the existing power balance in Northeast Asia. Countries in the region, including North Korea and China, will accelerate their arms race, particularly in nuclear weapons. That will dramatically raise our security costs and deepen our worries about consolidation of the division. The nuclear armament of South Korea and Japan could trigger the collapse of the non-proliferation regime by sparking a nuclear domino, and deal a critical blow to U.S. interests.
We are dumbfounded at such myopic views of a leading candidate in the U.S. presidential race who tries to approach such critical issues only from the perspective of expenses. Such attitudes can aggravate the distrust and discontent of the world about Uncle Sam. Trump must refrain from his penny-wise and pound-foolish approach. Our government also must deliver the dangers of Trump’s remarks to opinion leaders in the United States.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 28, Page 30