I see, from an article in the Associated Press, that “South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday that increases Seoul’s contribution for the cost of the American military presence on its soil, overcoming previous failed negotiations that caused worries about their decades-long alliance … [and] … South Korea last year provided about $830 million, covering roughly 40 percent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 U.S. soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. President Donald Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more.” Of course President Trump wants everyone to pay more for America’s military protection, and that includes Canada, too.
The article says that “Some conservatives in South Korea voiced concerns over a weakening alliance with the United States at the same time as negotiations with North Korea to deprive it of its nuclear weapons hit a stalemate. They said Trump might use the failed military cost-sharing negotiations as an excuse to pull back some U.S. troops in South Korea as a bargaining chip in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un … [but] … Trump told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Feb. 3 that he has no plans to withdraw troops from South Korea … [despite the fact that during] … his election campaign, Trump suggested he could pull back troops from South Korea and Japan unless they took on greater a share of the financial burdens of supporting U.S. soldiers deployed there.” I was commenting on this before president Trump was elected; and shortly after his 2016 election victory I said that “Prime Minister Trudeau and most European presidents and prime ministers will have to face a newly elected US president who wants them to pay for a bigger and bigger slice of their own defence. Real leaders would do well to recognize that the Americans have a valid point … some, probably many of them, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, may try to pretend that it doesn’t matter; they will be wrong.” I was impressed, then, with how deeply many, many Americans felt about Donal Trump’s campaign message which said that allies were “freeloading,” and taking unfair advantage of America’s innate generosity … I was very, very conscious of the fact that, when I was a young man, a junior officer in Canada’s tough, superbly disciplined, well trained, trained, nuclear armed “vest pocket army” (as more than one allied general called us) brigade group in Germany, Canada used to pay its full and fair share … but we stopped, in the late summer of 1969, when Pierre Trudeau tried to totally withdraw from NATO and, indeed, from the world.
I wonder when President Trump will send someone like Timothy Betts, the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security negotiations and Armaments in the US State Department, to Ottawa to demand that Canada should pay up after a half century of “freeloading” on the US taxpayers’ goodwill. That will come as a nasty shock to Team Trudeau and, indeed, to a majority of Canadians who have gotten used to the notion that the Americans will defend us out of the kindness of their hearts. I’m not sure that Canada is next in line, but I suspect we’re on his short list.