US request for fivefold increase in military costs for South Korea is blackmail

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/22 13:43:51

Photo: VCG

After the US-South Korea talks on US military cost-sharing in South Korea broke down on Tuesday, South Korean media reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing a brigade of US troops from the country to put pressure on Seoul.

Tuesday's talks broke down as the US demanded a fivefold increase in South Korea's share of the bill, from the current $900 million to $5 billion a year, sparking outrage across the country. Thursday's news led to yet more public uproar. The Pentagon has denied the South Korean report, but many believe that there is no smoke without fire.

South Korea's share of US military spending has been increasing, though in small steps such as an increase of 8.2 percent in 2019 compared to 2018. The US' request for a fivefold increase can be seen as a policy announcement from the current administration under US President Donald Trump to fundamentally change the US overseas military cost-sharing mechanism, or as an action to promote such new policy to its global alliances.

South Korea is not well-equipped to withstand US blackmail. Although it has some cooperation with Japan, another ally of the US, relations have deteriorated sharply in 2019, and it does not have close ties with other US allies. Most importantly, it is at the heart of a strategically volatile region, the Korean Peninsula, and is dependent on the US.

Washington has apparently realized that South Korea has no choice but to depend upon the US, and has offered Seoul an almost humiliating price tag.

The Trump administration may be looking to initially offer its highest price to South Korea and then offer it a discount, forcing the Asian country to swallow a smaller but still bitter fruit. A breakdown of the US-South Korea alliance is currently still unimaginable, and if the two sides engage in extremities, most observers believe that South Korea will eventually yield.

Trump's policy of doubling shares of military costs among allies has received some criticism in the US, but such criticism has not been firm. It is becoming clear that many Americans would be happy if the administration could extract money for the US by strong-arming its allies. Trump's commercial review of the global allies system has affected many American people. The overall strategic thinking of American society as revealed by Trump's presidency appears very short-sighted.

There are multiple reasons for this profound change in the US, but perhaps the most significant is that the country can no longer sustain its global hegemony in its trademark profligate manner. The US has put a price on alliances and is using US troops in other countries to profit. This is the US' new model of leading the world.

The Japanese media have reported that Washington also asked for a fourfold increase in the cost of US troops in Japan which was rejected by Tokyo. Have there been similar covert instructions and negotiations in Europe? It's hard to say.

The US is plundering the world, and impact from the "America First" way of thinking seems to be appearing everywhere. Washington refuses to let go of any dollar it can find, from trade wars to military costs from allies. The approach to fulfilling Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign promise is brutal, and the world is now facing a new brand of turmoil.

Let's see what South Korea can do to bargain with the US. That outcome will be important to the US' allies and will offer a valuable glimpse into the future of the world.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT