President Donald Trump continues to take issue with how much the US spends on certain other countries’ defense. Japan arguably tops his list.
On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, Trump criticized a defense treaty that America has with Japan. This treaty was established in the aftermath of World War II and Trump views it as “imbalanced.”
Fox Business Network tried asking him about prospective trade plans with Japan, India, and other Southeast Asian countries, then Trump shifted the discussion towards lopsided military agreements. The president then said, “Let me start off with a general statement,” following up by saying, “almost all countries in this world take tremendous advantage of the United States. It’s unbelievable.”
Trump honed his sights on a treaty that America has with Japan, adding:
“We have a treaty with Japan. If Japan is attacked we will fight World War III. We will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives and with our treasure.”
More than just a piece of paper, Trump highlighted the potential obligations of such a treaty in war scenarios:
“We will fight at all costs. But if we’re attacked Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack,” he said, referring to the Japanese company.
Trump’s criticism of the American treaty with Japan comes in the wake of a Bloomberg report detailing the president’s private suggestion of withdrawing from said treaty, which was signed after the conclusion of World War II more than six decades ago.
Not too long ago, the president complained about the fiscal burden that America has had to shoulder for certain defense pacts such as NATO. His criticism has at least shifted the Overton Window in terms of political discourse and policy action. Now, NATO member countries are pitching in more for defense spending.
Trump nails it when describing the U.S. as a de facto “world police.”
Say what you want about his economic nationalism, one of Trump’s stronger points was his call for a restrained foreign policy that gradually shifts the U.S. towards a path of non-interventionism. It’s become abundantly clear that the current status quo of defense policy doesn’t benefit Americans. However, it sure does make a killing for defense companies.
For these efforts, Trump should be praised for putting the spotlight on America’s unsustainable defense agreements. Now that the Soviet Union no longer presents an existential geopolitical threat, countries should be willing to assume their own defense functions. At this juncture, the U.S. cannot afford to continue subsidizing other countries’ defense.