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South Korea Officials Laugh at Trump’s Demand for $5 Billion to Keep US Army There


AS THE WORLD TURNS: More and more, Trump is looking like the odd man out, as Kim and Moon get on with the business of peace.

Recently, US President Donald Trump made history by becoming the first sitting US President to physically step foot inside of North Korea over the DMZ line. Despite diplomatic progress though, there is still some ways to go before Washington can boast achieving full de-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Because the bottom line is that Trump’s peace overtures have already re-routed the course of events on the Korean Peninsula, and there’s very little, if any chance that hostilities will resume between these two neighbors.

Of course, it would be unfair to give all of the credit to Trump – South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and his counterpart in Pyongyang, Kim Jung-un, are the two men who have made this détente possible. Or maybe it’s just a reality whose time has come. Either way, the old US gambit in the Pacific looks destined for the policy museum.

What this also signals is that the old idea that South Korea ‘must pay’ the Don in a US protect racket – to protect South Koreans from their supposed ideological adversaries in China and North Korea – will no longer fly with the Korean people. How long until a peace treaty is actually signed may depend on the well-timed theatrics which Team Trump plans to unveil during the 2020 US Election.

Writer Benjamin Young at the Nikkei Asian Review reports…

According to a report on July 30 from a South Korean newspaper, Washington has requested that the government in Seoul pay $5 billion next year for the continued presence of its armed forces on South Korean soil. This would be more than a fivefold increase from 2019, when Seoul paid $879 million.

During my recent visit to Seoul, numerous high-ranking South Korean officials and academics actually laughed at this request, amused by the absurdity of such a high number.

However, it should not be laughed at. The unreasonableness of $5 billion is the entire point: the Trump administration understands that Seoul will not pay, especially after it funded the $10.7 billion upgrade of the U.S. garrison, Camp Humphreys. Washington wants to use it as leverage to curb and eventually pull U.S. troops out of South Korea.

This would not only be a massive boon for North Korea, China and Russia — all South Korea’s rivals — but would also signal to U.S. allies around the world that its military presence abroad is based on tit-for-tat economic exchange, not mutual security…

Continue this story at Nikkei Asian Review

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