Saturday, April 29, 2017

South Koreans Are Still Trying To Figure Out President Trump

Anna Fifield, Washington Post: In South Korea, mystification over Trump’s defense and trade comments

SEOUL — The South Korean government reeled Friday over President Trump’s sudden insistence that he expects Seoul to pay $1 billion for a missile defense system that many here do not want, the latest in a series of slights against one of the United States’ leading allies in Asia.

Trump’s remarks come at a particularly sensitive time on the Korean Peninsula: Not only have tensions with North Korea risen to their highest level in years, but South Koreans are heading to the polls next month and could elect a president whose ideas about how to deal with North Korea are very different from Trump’s.

“So far the reaction in South Korea to all these things that Mr. Trump has said has been surprisingly restrained, but I think that’s because South Koreans are still trying to figure out what kind of character he is,” said David Straub, a former U.S. diplomat dealing with the Koreas and author of the book “Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea.”

“They know he’s an unusual president and they’re discounting a lot of what he says, but eventually remarks like these will have a serious effect,” Straub said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The focus in South Korea right now is on their Presidential election .... not North Korea. As a long time and frequent visitor of South Korea over the years, I have seen how South Koreans have changed their views (and fears) of North Korea. My guess is that South Korea has been under the threat of annihilation from North Korea for so long .... that they are no longer focused as they use to be on what is happening in their northern neighbour. And as for North Korea's strides in developing a missile program that can strike a U.S. city with a deliverable nuclear weapon .... to the South Koreans this is nothing new .... they can be struck right now. I tell my South Koreans that this approach and lack of concern on U.S. security needs is a mistake .... they may feel comfortable and use to having a North Korean leader threaten them with destruction .... but the U.S. is not .... doubly so since this erratic North Korean leader's rhetoric is backed up by a weapons program that will accomplish such a goal. As for South Korea's reaction to a $1 billion bill for the deployment of THAAD and White House threats to renegotiate the U.S. - South Korean trade deal .... my recommendation to the next South Korean President (who will be elected next month) is that he better listen because business as usual is no longer acceptable. My prediction .... he will not listen .... in fact he may go out of his way to placate the North Korean leader and ignore the concerns that are being raised by both the U.S. and Japan..


Anonymous said...

WNU - you misread the 1bn. It's typical Trump. He knows THAAD is a must to have, and have soon. Therefore he a) didn't go for the agreed "wait for what the next president says on this" and b) knowing about the unpopularity about THAAD is basically using reverse psychology on the South Koreans.
xx% South Koreans: We don't want THAAD (protest)
xx% South Koreans: Hey you said you'll wait until next president gives OK
Trump: You guys gotta pay, this stuff is expensive! 1bn!
Koreans: WTF we won't pay, you do it for free, as previously agreed (actually they pay for parts, as agreed - just simplifying here)
Trump: OK (moves ahead as planned with thaad, and sticks to previous agreements)
Nothing changes. Thaad will go ahead. But Trump does not actually expect the additional money. He knows there's a contract, he knows he needs THAAD just as much as the South Koreans do (even more so, actually). He's just using his real estate reverse psychology tactics on global level and thinks he can keep people pushing around and at best get some xx million extra (he thinks still micro- not macro levels, hence his management style), and at worst will get the previously agreed (in writing) deal, which is thaad installed (faster actually), and some service fees.

War News Updates Editor said...

Thank you Anon for your comment. I know that Trump is doing everything on the micro level .... but accumulative this has a big impact on a macro level (see my comment on the post before this one)

War News Updates Editor said...

I should also add that this approach is working. He may not get 100% of what he wanted .... maybe 10% or 20%. But that 10% or 20% is something that he did not have before. It is an effective approach .... and I will admit that I use it all the time both personally and in business.

Patrick Henry said...

South Korea is a rich nation, with plenty of money. They need to contribute towards the US costs for defending their nation. It makes no sense for US to put its soldiers in harms way and incur more and more debt and borrowing to benefit an ally who is not willing to support the US defense effort. If S Korea does not want to contribute, the US should pull out and allow them to defend themselves. Who knows, with the US no longer in the mix, maybe South Korea and North Korea will make peace....but maybe not also.

fred lapides said...

South Korea of course can afford a lot, but I believe--I am not positive on this--that Trump first moved that expensive item to South Korea and then subsquently said: here is the bill. They did not know in advance. There is art of the deal involved.