Thursday, June 27, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He met with the leaders of three different allied countries that he had just attacked.

Trump is at the G20 meetings in Japan. He met today with the leaders of three countries with close military and economic ties to the United States: Japan, India, and Germany. Another thing that these countries have in common is that Trump has publicly questioned those relationships in the last few days.

Japan. In an interview with Fox Business, Trump sneered at the military relationship between the United States and Japan, saying, "If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. We will go in and protect them with our lives and with our treasure. But if we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us. They can watch it on a Sony television."

Japan has no military of its own, other than a limited self-defense force, because that was a condition of the end of U.S. occupation after World War II. The United States has a military presence in Asia to counter China's influence and contain North Korea only because the defense treaty with Japan allows for American troops, naval and air power to be stationed in Japan.

India. Trump lashed out at India on Twitter on the flight to Osaka, complaining about Indian tariffs on American goods sold there. Trump said that "very high Tariffs" were "unacceptable" and "must be withdrawn."

India did indeed raise tariffs on U.S. goods recently, in response to tariffs Trump slapped on Indian steel and aluminum. In other words, Trump is complaining that India is fighting back in the trade war he started.

Germany. In the same interview where he threatened Japan, Trump also criticized NATO allies including Germany, saying, “We pay for close to 100 percent of NATO. People don’t know that. We pay for close to that because Germany doesn’t pay what they’re supposed to pay."

Trump has told some version of this lie 99 times, according to a count by the Washington Post, although it's not clear if he actually understands that it's not true. NATO is not a protection racket. The United States pays 22% of its relatively small overhead. No member country owes money to the United States or NATO itself.

Trump meets tomorrow with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has not criticized Putin recently, or ever.

Why is this bad?

  • Nothing that hurts America's military or economic security is a good thing.