The ominous similarities

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The ominous similarities

JUNG HYO-SIK
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Leading Democratic primary candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. President Donald Trump have opposite ideologies yet have something in common. They show isolationist tendencies in economic and foreign policy. In Europe, there are some cautious voices that Sanders is a “leftist nationalist” in comparison to Trump.

Just like Trump, Sanders opposed the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), calling it a disaster for American workers. Last month, he was the only presidential candidate to vote against the ratification of the free trade agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (Usmca), which will replace Nafta. His reasoning was that it did not include any clauses protecting high-paying American jobs, improving the environment and preventing climate change. White working-class voters, who were the support base for Sanders, chose Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election because of his campaign promise to scrap — or revise — the free trade agreements that took away American jobs.

On February 3 and 11, young voters in their 20s and 30s that I met in Sanders’ rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire raved over the 78-year-old politician because of his radical domestic policies — such as Medicare-for-All, tuition-free national and public universities, debt relief for college students and minimum wage increase — not because of his foreign policy.

Traditional geopolitical issues such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran are not priority concerns in Sanders’ foreign policy. When asked about the priority of a state secretary in the Sanders administration, he said it was to lead the international efforts to respond to the imminent threats of climate change.

Sanders believes that America should stop being world police and further engaging in military interventionism for the military industrial complex and corrupt corporate interests. His pledge to withdraw U.S. Forces from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria is the same as Trump’s. Mentioning the military spending of the world at a Democratic primary debate, he maintained that resources should be used to fight the mutual enemy of climate change rather than spending $1.8 trillion annually on weapons to kill each other.

Sanders’ foreign policy priority can have a major impact on Korea. Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Bernie Sanders, said to the Atlantic that Sanders would not declare withdrawing U.S. forces or treat U.S. troops like mercenaries as Trump did on Twitter. But he added that long-term stationing of U.S. Forces in Korea, Japan and Germany is not economically sustainable. Ro Khanna, national co-chair of the 2020 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, said that a USFK withdrawal cannot be ruled out as a part of the North Korean denuclearization process. These are the reasons why I am worried that Sanders would go the same direction in the end though he did not openly promise a USFK withdrawal from Korea.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 18, Page 28
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