The headline for Kuni Miyake’s article in the Oct. 16 edition, “Trump’s move in Syria should alarm U.S. allies,” was much more forceful than the actual article. This is a shame because the obvious now needs to be said: The United States will not stand by its allies unless Trump stands to benefit personally.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the significance of Trump’s utter and contemptible betrayal of the Kurds, not just for America’s role in the Middle East but for its role everywhere, including here in Northeast Asia. Sure, America will continue to make all the usual noises about standing side by side with allies — but this is now ridiculous nonsense completely divorced from reality.
Until this betrayal, people across Japan, including well-meaning policymakers in Nagatacho, probably believed it was impossible that the U.S. would ever abandon them in the face of an attack by Russia or China. All of these people are now faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Trump’s rash decision to withdraw from Syria was immediately consequential — and lethal — to the Kurds living under the U.S. “security umbrella.” Why should anyone in Japan believe he will not do the same to them, at the drop of a hat?
A year ago, Trump was praising the Kurds as “great” allies and vowed to protect them. “They fought with us. They died with us,” he said. “We have not forgotten.” But just a few days ago, he dismissed the Kurds this way: “They didn’t help us in the Second World War. They didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example.” When he throws Japan under the bus, the first words out his mouth will be “the Japanese attacked us during World War II,” and his minions will praise him to the skies.
Remember, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pleas, Trump unilaterally halted military exercises with South Korea, handing a victory to North Korea and getting nothing in return. Trump just wants a deal, any deal, for his self-aggrandizement.
The betrayal of Japan by the U.S. is only a matter of time, and when it comes it should surprise exactly no one.
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.