In continuing the blog series on Donald Trump’s foreign policy and its danger to the United States at home and abroad, this article discusses his position on long time US alliances and his plans to overhaul these relationships for the worse. Let’s discuss!
East Asian Alliances
The US alliance with Japan begun during the post-World War II reconstruction period and has continued to strengthen and flourish. Japan has been pivotal in the US economic and security “rebalance” toward East Asia that has taken place over the past five years. Since World War II, Japan has been considered a pacifist nation, strictly limiting their military to defense, if attacked. However, due to increasing fears of Chinese territorial aggression and destabilization in the Korean peninsula, the Japanese government has begun reinterpreting Article 9 their constitution to liberalize the usage of their military for the defense of allies and themselves, also known as collective defense. This potential change in policy is significant for Japan and one that would increase interdependence between Japan and the United States. Continued security and economic relations with Japan provides a major blockade to Chinese territorial aggression.
If we take Mr. Trump at his word, Japan would be cutting a check to the United States for “protection” as if forming an alliance can equate to 21st-century gang or mafia warfare.
Another serious concern is Mr. Trump’s promotion of Japan and South Korea becoming nuclear states and therefore initiating a destabilizing nuclear arms race in the region. Trump is also threatening to withdraw US troops from these areas as well. The very isolationist policies that Mr. Trump is discussing is what has allowed Europe and Asia to descend into conflict in the past. A state cannot have a say in world affairs if it forfeits its influence around the world, particularly as it pertains to security and peace.
US involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began in 1949 when the treaty was first signed in Washington DC. The formal military alliance was created to offset expanding Soviet military power and territory gains. The original members included Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and the United States. Since 2009, the Alliance has maintained a membership of twenty-eight (28) countries. According to its website, NATO’s “essential purpose” is to protect and secure its members by “political and military means.” Article 5 of the treaty states that all members will come to the defense of fellow members when needed. The article was invoked one time, and that was in response to the attacks of 9/11 on the United States.
Donald Trump recently stated that NATO is “costing us a fortune” as he foresees a significant US withdrawal from NATO under a Trump presidency. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is sorely mistaken concerning the alliance’s cost burden on the United States. According to the 2016 NATO budget, which totals around $2.3 billion dollars, the US is responsible for 22.1 percent of alliance’s combined civil and military budget. This percentage equals $514 million dollars which only adds up to 0.09 percent of the $585 billion dollars that is the 2016 US defense budget. The NATO alliance is a grain of sand in a beach that is the bloated and bureaucratic US defense budget.
The Trump campaign should spend more time on crafting detailed policy proposals and less time speaking to the irrational fears of a few. There are plenty of areas in the defense budget ripe for cutting but that is a discussion for another occasion but damaging historical alliances to “save” a buck fails a SWOT analysis, something I am sure in which Trump is quite familiar!
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore