What’s going to happen to South Korea when Trump wins the US presidential election?
Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump mentioned on an interview with The New York Times that he suggests pulling American troops from Korea.
He accuses South Korea of its heavy reliance on the American military and of free-riding on the US for its defense. What he suggests is that South Korea is a wealthy country which doesn’t deserve US protection no longer.
In 2013 he previously complained in his YouTube channel; “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment?”
What Trump suggests is that if American troops are to be stationed in Japan and South Korea, the host countries should cover the costs. “We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this,” he told The Times.
He added that unless Japan and South Korea to house and feed the soldiers, he would be willing to withdraw American troops from Asia. Currently there are about 50,000 soldiers in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea.
The fact is that they already have been paying a portion. The Seoul government was liable for $866.1 million for personnel, logistics and construction costs. It is about half of the cost of US military on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump takes aim at South Korea that they rely entirely on the US for its defense role, while selling Samsung and LG’s TVs. However his view neglects the fact that South Korea is No.1 weaponry importing country making about 78 hundred million dollar imports contract last year. About 70 hundred million dollars of weaponry was imported from the States, and this amount is 36 times more than the amount of TV export to US.
The reason why Korea is importing expensive American weapon is, besides the highest technology, to support the Korea-US military alliance and ROK-US interoperability.
UK and several experts also challenged the notion that the alliance is one-sided as the United States and South Korea have a common threat from North Korea. "U.S. forces are no longer there strictly to defend South Korea," said William W. Stueck, historian at the University of Georgia. "They are there to enhance regional stability.” The US actually benefits significantly on a strategic level with this arrangement. Trump overlooks the fact that alliances are not to be measured in dollars.
Another fact to consider is that it’s cheaper for US military to support those 28,500 troops than having them stationed in the home base in the States with South Korea’s willingness to share the costs. Defense officials say the United States is saving money in many cases by stationing troops overseas and having host countries pick up a lot of the tab.
Despite all these points, what if Trump gets elected as the president of Unites States and insists on his argument?
Destabilizing the power structure in East Asia, as well as decreasing influence over critical East Asian countries including China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, his political view is summed up as “American First.”
Would leaving Japan, South Korea, and Germany for their own defense and letting them nuclear weapons, be a strategically clever choice for his “American First” idea? The answer remains negative with his ambiguous diplomatic policy.
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