Reader Mail

Trump betrays his ignorance of Asia

In the Aug. 11 edition, there were several articles related to recent issues affecting the Korean Peninsula. One (“Defense paper to slight Seoul”) focused on the recently deteriorating relations between Japan and South Korea. In the accompanying article (“Trump urges neighbors to ‘get along'”), U.S. President Donald Trump reminds the two countries that “they’re supposed to be allies,” but also adds that “they’ve got to get along because it puts us in a bad position,” revealing that, as usual, his main concern in all matters is to put the U.S. first.

Trump, with his present and previous comments on South Korea and Japan, and his totally fruitless efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, certainly betrays his ignorance of this region, and of Asia in general.

In a further attempt to convince his supporters that he is saving them money, Trump has even stated that South Korea needs to make a greater financial contributions to the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, seemingly believing that American troops are there only for the benefit of that country, and not as part of a larger American strategy.

It is said that many years ago Trump very cunningly managed to avoid conscription to serve in Vietnam (although nowadays, ironically, he is constantly singing the praises of “our brave boys in the armed forces”), so it is hardly surprising that he seems ignorant of recent American history and the country’s frequent historic incursions into Asia, and the fact that the reason America was involved in a war with Vietnam in the first place was due to the so-called Domino Theory; i.e., that if one country fell to the communists, more and more were sure to follow. Vietnam, and communism, is no longer the threat it appeared to be years ago, but now we do have the very clear peril posed by a nuclear-armed state, namely North Korea, ruled by a despot similar in some ways to Trump in that he has to cling to power by convincing his people that he is only acting in their interests.

Meanwhile, Trump, in a desperate attempt to convince the American people that his negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have paid off, has declared that North Korea’s recent resumption of missile testing is not a problem, since they were only “short-range missiles,” by which he presumably means they would be unable to reach the United States.

Again, he proves that his sole interest is in maintaining his domestic support, and, he hopes, be re-elected, while displaying his ignorance of the actual situation in the Asian region and the reality that, especially in the modern world, what happens in one country or region has the potential to affect us all.

Trump obviously needs to spend a lot less time tweeting and much more time doing his homework.

JOHN RYDER
KYOTO

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.