After Trump’s victoryRepublican candidate Donald Trump was elected 45th president of the United States after defeating Hillary Clinton. His election — despite a critical lack of political experience and an abundance of indecent rhetoric and behavior — is a dark event comparable to the United Kingdom’s decision in June to leave the European Union.
Trump’s “black swan” victory explicitly showed the deep distrust U.S. voters have toward the political establishment. His triumph was possible thanks to an explosion of discontent among low-income, undereducated white people alienated from the benefits of globalization and neoliberalism. The election results also laid bare some flaws in America’s democracy and its press.
The world is shocked to see Trump victorious. As uncertainties over the decades-old order led by the U.S. deepen, the world is heading into confusion. It is hard to predict how far his “America First” platform based on a new isolationism and protectionism will go. South Korea faces its own daunting political crisis due to the unprecedented influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. Trump’s election as the president of America, our biggest ally, could exacerbate our domestic plight.
Despite Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s reassurance that Washington’s focus on the alliance will not change, it is too early to conclude that. As he said often in his campaign, Trump wants to review the alliance if South Korea does not pay more to defend itself from North Korean military threats. That could shake the very foundations of the Korea-U.S. alliance.
Trump’s election rings alarm bells on the North Korean nuclear issue. If our trust in America’s extended deterrence is shaken, we may have to rethink the ties from the beginning. We cannot rule out a possibility that Trump will attempt to resolve the issue through a military option or strike a deal with Pyongyang after bypassing Seoul. His new administration could try to change the status quo in Northeast Asia.
South Korea faces a serious leadership vacuum. It is even unclear who should call Trump to congratulate him. After President Park’s decision not to participate in the Nov. 19 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, the National Assembly must quickly appoint a new prime minister and let him (or her) run the government.
Korea is at a crossroads. The first step forward is for the president to make clear her intention to retreat from government and hand power to the legislature.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 10, Page 30