Donald Trump is doubling down on comments he made about a possible nuclear war in Asia, saying “it would be a terrible thing but if they do, they do.” U.S. officials have been working overtime from Mexico to Japan trying to downplay Trump’s comments, which offer a glimpse of a very different kind of foreign policy.
Donald Trump has insisted numerous times that America cannot be the world’s policeman and that the country does not get any benefit from deploying its military around the world. His solution has been simple — make the other countries pay the U.S.
According to the Guardian, the GOP front-runner said, “It’s time that other people stopped looking at us as stupid, stupid people.”
He promised, if he is elected, “we are going to get these countries to pay but not only to pay all the money they owe us for many years… we’ve been carrying these countries.”
The concept isn’t completely unheard of in American foreign policy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, President George H.W. Bush secured financial pledges from coalition partners before attacking Iraq, according to Politifact. The biggest sums, $16.8 billion and $16.1 billion, came from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait respectively, but other countries like Japan and Germany also pitched in. The total amount promised was $54 billion, of which the U.S. has received $52.9 billion.
Donald Trump did not appear to know about the pledges back in 2011 when he said Kuwait never paid us for the war.
Still, Trump’s foreign policy comments extend beyond just getting countries to pay us protection money.
According to CNN, Saturday afternoon Donald Trump said about a possible nuclear war, “I would rather have them [Japan] not arm, but I’m not going to continue to lose this tremendous amount of money. And frankly, the case could be made that let them protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick.”
North Korea has been a threat to Japan and South Korea, both U.S. allies. South and North Korea are still technically at war, never having fully resolved their civil war from the early 1950s.
If Donald Trump did pull out the 54,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Japan and the 28,000 troops in South Korea, it would force major changes to America’s alliances and even Japan’s constitution.
Japan is prohibited from maintaining armed forces with “war potential” by Article 9 of its constitution. The country does maintain a self-defense force, but it cannot send those forces abroad.
Nevertheless, Trump’s idea of Japan rearming itself isn’t completely disconnected from foreign policy realities. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently approved a controversial “reinterpretation” of Article 9 that would allow the self-defense forces to defend allies abroad under certain conditions, which was accompanied by a record-setting, increased military budget along with certain units being retooled for international deployment, according to the Diplomat.
The Obama administration approved of Abe’s new take on Article 9, but the President is still working to downplay Donald Trump’s ideas.
Obama assured people, “The person [Trump] who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean Peninsula or the world generally.”
Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy.
Still Donald Trump said, “We can’t be the policeman to the world and have $19 trillion in debt, going up to $21 trillion.”
At the most extreme end in the real estate mogul’s thoughts on East Asian policy, he said that maybe Japan and South Korea should have their own nuclear weapons according to CBS News, a near complete reversal from the Obama’s administration’s effort to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Donald Trump is the front-runner in the GOP presidential race and is still leading in national polls by 10 points according to Real Clear Politics.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]