The Trump Effect (5)

As I predicted late last month, President Trump did, indeed, chastise Canada and others for being “delinquent in meeting their (specifically NATO) defence burden-sharing promises.

How he will punish the “delinquents” remains to be seen, but we might get a hint from how he is, currently, treating Japan.

The Financial Times discusses the president’s transactional approach to alliances in an informative article that is, mainly, about a new Japanese jet fighter programme. Japan, the article explains, is planning to replace its F2 family of jet fighters; unlike Canada, it aims to do so before they are totally obsolete. Japan is exploring three options to develop “a sixth generation Tempest stealth fighter, according to three people familiar with discussions about the F-3 programme.” Their options are:

  • A totally Japanese development ~ something their aircraft industry, unlike Canada’s, might be able to hqdefaultdo;
  • A combined project with Britain’s BAE for it’s new sixth-generation Tempest fighter (pictured). This appears to be the Japanese government’s preferred option; and
  • A combined project with the American firm Lockheed-Martin, builder of the fifth-generation F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

There is considerable worry that President Trump will use his leverage ~ America’s security ‘guarantee’ for Japan ~  to force Japan to choose the American option. That would be in keeping with his predilections. The FT says that he has, already, ” stunned Japan in July when [he] said [America] would request a fourfold increase to $8bn when the allies renegotiated the “special measures agreement” that determines their contributions … [and] …Mr Trump has made Japan, and his own military officials, nervous by threatening to withdraw troops unless Tokyo pays more. He has also frequently touted Japanese purchases of US weapons in his meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This is, of course, absolutely archetypical of President Trump’s transactional approach to protecting America’s vital interests: nothing, including global peace, is more important than his view of the quarterly ‘bottom line.’ He is completely oblivious to the fact that a strong, prosperous, friendly Japan (and Taiwan) is a major force aiding him in containing China in East Asia. All he sees is that Japan seems, to him, to be getting something for nothing. In Donald Trump’s worldview, only America is entitled to get that.

President Trump uses economic levers because they are the only ones that he thinks matter. I think that he really wants to disengage, militarily, from a world that he Mike_Pompeo_official_photo220px-General_Mark_A._Milleydoesn’t understand and which actually frightens him. But he has too many top advisors who will push back against any serious disengagement. What they will not fight against is Trump’s use of economic and trade tools ~ tariffs and so on ~ to punish allies who don’t pay what he thinks is a “fair share.” That includes Japan ~ he wants them to quadruple their payments, and he is reported to want “cost plus 50%” from South Korea and Taiwan. His foreign policy and military advisors, strategic hawks though they may be, will not argue with him over that. Canada needs to take note. As our economy weakens, Canada cannot afford further punishment from the USA for not doing what we should have done, years ago … which includes fast-tracing the purchase of a new fifth-generation, American made fighter to replace our ancient CF-18s.

 

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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3 Comments

  1. The present Government will continue to openly defy Trump as it plays well to the base, regardless of what it costs us.

    1. Being at least somewhat anti-American has always, since about 1957, anyway, been good politics in Canada. Even Stephen Harper, very early in his first mandate, warned the Americans not to intrude into “our” Arctic.
      Of course, it goes back long before that; think of Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s character, Sam Slick, the sharp Yankee trader, in the 1840s. It’s part of the Canadians DNA, I guess. See, also, “envy.”

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