Trump has been insulting so many groups that it is impossible to keep tabs. Women, Muslims, Mexican, immigrants both illegal and now legal. And now it is Japan’s turn.
Talking at one of his rallies he said,
You know we have a treaty with Japan, where if Japan is attacked, we have to use the full force and might of the United States.If we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television, OK?
Also leaving aside the stereotype of Japanese people watching Japanese-made Television sets, the statement is both uninformed and alarming.
As reported earlier this year by the Los Angeles Times, Japan is indeed paying the US more than $1.5 billion. Japan also needs military support due to the treaty imposed on the country at the end of WWII. And these impositions, among which the veto for Japan to have nuclear weapons, was America that imposed them as a requirement to sign the peace agreement. But this, in Trump’s eye, is obsolete and he hinted that Japan might need to get its own nuclear arsenal, in violation of the same rules the US imposed to the country 70 years ago.
Tsuyoshi Sunohara, secretary-general of the U.S.-Japan Project at the Japan Center for Economic Research had declared in the past that:
There is an unspoken but unanimous consensus among serious Japanese people in business, bureaucracy, and politics that Trump is a disaster. Including Prime Minister Abe — though he’s never said it publicly, officially, he’s very much concerned.
And this latest Trump’s speech is unlikely to have turned the table in favor of the Republican candidate.
But Japan is not the only country in trouble with Trump over defense matter. His biggest target is NATO, as a whole.
Donald Trump does not like NATO, and he has made it crystal clear.
He considers it obsolete, and dreams of its profound reform, as he stated back in earlier this year.
We pay a disproportionate share of the cost of N.A.T.O. Why? It is time to renegotiate, and the time is now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
His plan for reforming the organization is simple. Turn it into a Mafia-style racket where those who do not pay the local boss won’t be protected. This is how he explained it,
People aren’t paying their fair share. And then the stupid people, they say: ‘But we have a treaty.’ They say: ‘What would happen if Russia or somebody attacks?’ I said: ‘I don’t know; have they paid?’ … ‘Well, they haven’t paid, but we have a treaty.’
I said: ‘Yeah, they have a treaty too – they have to pay.’ We’re gonna end up in world war three protecting people and these people can pay,
He’s the first President in decades who values the US allies based on cold hard cash. All his predecessors praised NATO for its role in maintaining peace and protecting its countries. As summarized by Bloomberg:
Richard Nixon, “What we must realize is that in a period of instability, of uncertainty, and of possible lack of confidence, that what is needed is an institution that people can believe in, an institution that is strong, an institution that is stable, that men and women can hang onto; and NATO is such an institution.”
Ronald Reagan, “I found this week in Brussels what the Atlantic alliance has demonstrated now for 40 years: that a peace built on strength can and will endure.”
George H.W. Bush, “Some ask if NATO is still necessary, and our answer is unequivocally yes because free nations must stand together in an uncertain world.”
George W. Bush, “The relationship between the United States and Europe is a vital relationship, a necessary relationship, an important relationship and our relationship within NATO is the cornerstone of that relationship.
What also Trump forgets is that Article 5 of NATO (the article calling for collective defense) has been invoked only once since the Alliance existed. And it was America, in the aftermath of 9/11, to ask its allies to fight together against terrorism.
NATO needs to change as the times have changed. But turning it into a pay-per-defense organization is dangerous. It is like saying to terrorists that, should they attack a small, poor country, the US will not stand with said country. It’s offering to terrorists a set of defenseless (or almost defenseless) target to hit next.
And it is sending a message of fragmentation and weakness toward Russia, as many of the Eastern European countries leaders pointed out.
And it would backfire on America too. Ana Catauta, adviser to the former minister of foreign affairs of Romania, stated it so clearly that even Trump should have understood it:
A weakened NATO is a weakened West, and a weakened West is a weakened America. You don’t make America great again by turning your back to your best and natural allies!
But evidently, Trump is unable to process even the simplest of messages.
Featured image: Michael Vadon via Flickr.