The South Korean capital, Seoul, is within artillery range of North Korea. Millions of South Koreans could be shelled within minutes if a war breaks out. While South Korea’s government favors improved relations with Pyongyang, it also understands the value of a strong military. The Trump administration should be helping a strong ally, not undermining it.
President Trump was …wrong to walk away from annual military exercises with our South Korean allies. That move raises fears that walking away from our decades-long alliance could be next.
Trump says he decided to suspend this year’s two land exercises, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, to save money and to help improve relations with Pyongyang. Neither explanation justifies his decision.
The cost to hold the exercises, estimated at $14 million, is trivial in the context of a $700 billion U.S. defense budget. Moreover, the South Korean government just agreed to increase the amount it pays each year for basing U.S. troops in the country by more than $50 million. Insisting our allies pay more to get less is a terrible idea.
Trump also apparently acceded to this key North Korean demand without getting anything in return. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had specifically protested the annual exercises in his New Year’s Day speech, reiterating a longtime demand.
[Excerpt of Washington Post Opinion]