CNN’s Nicole Gaouette reports that President Trump has suddenly decided that South Korea should pay the United States a whole lot more for the troops we station there:
Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 500% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula, a congressional aide and an administration official confirmed to CNN.
The price hike has frustrated Pentagon officials … deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers … and unnerved Seoul.
….In the US, congressional aides and Korea experts familiar with the talks say the President’s $4.7 billion demand came out of thin air, sending State and Defense Department officials scrambling to justify the number.
I can’t say that I care a great deal about the terms of our troop presence in South Korea, but I do care about whether our allies feel like they can trust us. Trump has made it abundantly clear that they can’t. From Canada to Europe to Ukraine to the Syrian Kurds and now to South Korea, Trump has repeatedly pulled the carpet out from under alliances both new and old. This is one reason, among many, that eight years of Trump could very well be far more than twice as catastrophic as four years.
And for the record, $4.7 billion in the South Korean national budget is about the equivalent of $50 billion in the US federal budget. It’s a lot of money he’s asking for.