The way Donald Trump has treated our allies is horrifying.
One of our closest, Japan, is worried about its relationship with the United States - and it's no wonder why. The escalating trade war certainly has not helped. Donald Trump's tariffs now affect over 50% of Chinese imports, but that's not the worst of it. Tariffs also affect 9.6% of imports from South Korea, 7.3% from Canada, 3.8% from Japan, and 2.5% from the European Union - OUR ALLIES! This is not cool. Read more here.
To our close friend Japan - who has a lot to lose in the face of an empowered North Korea - Donald Trump's bromance with Kim Jong Un, along with his constant griping about overseas deployments, is chilling. Worse, he conflates economic issues with military protections, seemingly threatening one against the other...and the way he does it is downright embarrassing. Before his departure for the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Donald Trump had been considering withdrawing the U.S. from the security treaty we have had with Japan since 1951. This agreement has solidified this incredibly important relationship and is an integral part of American foreign policy. Asked about the fairness of the treaty, Trump irreverently and disrespectfully said, “If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television.”
Put aside for the moment that he sounds like a complete jerk. This is not the time for insidious rhetoric. This agreement protects America every bit as much as it does Japan. As China’s military ambitions increase and North Korea essentially shoots us the bird, we need our allies now more than ever. Plus, we need American leadership to ensure they themselves get along. Historical grievances between South Korea and Japan are reaching critical mass, with global economic consequences (core issue: what, if anything, Japan owes South Korea for Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula until Japan’s surrender in World War II).
This is just not who we are.
We are the country that initiated the Lend-Lease policy, which helped defeat Germany, Japan and Italy by providing weapons, food, oil, and other supplies to the United Kingdom, China, the Soviet Union, France, and other allies during World War II. Thanks to our Marshall Plan, Europe was able to rebuild after years of devastating war. Under our leadership, South Korea evolved from a vulnerable, extremely poor autocracy to a vibrant, healthy democracy. We crushed the Cold War and stopped communism in its tracks. We spent billions to fight HIV in developing countries, which provided almost 10 million people antiviral drugs and prevented hundreds of thousands of infants from being infected with HIV at birth. With our help, China was able to integrate into the global economy, which helped reduce poverty for billions. Around the world, our security and support have provided the opportunity for countries to foster democratic governments and strong economies.
We're nice people, but these actions were not just about the United States being nice to our fellow man. America has received significant returns on these investments. Far beyond peace and security – which, alone, would have made our efforts worth it – we now have new, open markets to participate in and more people to trade with. We also gained the gratitude and respect of loyal allies that have our back...allies who are more than willing to share our burdens, and who don't blink when we ask them to join us in war.
As a global leader – actually, THE global leader – we have a tremendous responsibility and this country is 1000% up to the task. We are incredibly blessed to live in this truly exceptional, one-of-a-kind place. We are the country that welcomes the poor, the tired and the huddled masses. We are the country that celebrates life, liberty and justice for all. We are the country that invented the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. We are the United States of America.
...a truly breathtaking place to be. Our greatest responsibility as Americans is to preserve and protect the very reasons that America is so great, and to make sure America's light shines far beyond our shores. We have to protect democratic participation, international rule of law, and rules-based international order. We have to be reliable. But most of all we have to be loyal to our allies.