That’s the headline of a South Korean newspaper. I said that right, a South Korean newspaper. You know, our ally. One of the good guys. A firm member of Team America. The paper went on to accuse the Trump Administration of engaging in a North Korean style bluff, like the fake missiles they parade.
South Korea and Japan are furious over the Trump’s administration’s false claims that the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Task Force was en route to the waters off the Korean Peninsula. When said, the statement was flat out untrue. The Carl Vinson, and its escorts, were headed in the opposite direction for scheduled maneuvers with the Australian Navy.
For South Korea and Japan this sort of thing is not some sort of academic exercise, it is a vital matter of national security. It’s life. Part of the point of announcing such a deployment is to assure allies, and the people of those nations, that the United States is there for them. Now they discover the United States was not there at all. Of course, this quite reasonably prompts them to wonder if the United States will be there next time, even when it says it already there. Consider these words from the Wall Street Journal:
“What Mr. Trump said was very important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.” — South Korean Presidential Candidate Hong Joon-pyo.
Keep in mind, these are people on our side.
Things were not improved by Sean’s Spicer’s smarmy effort to say the prior statements were true because the Carl Vinson is finally en route now. This (all to Trump-esque) exercise in retroactive, post hoc truthiness is unlikely to assuage the concerns of our allies. After all, the only basis they have to believe the Carl Vinson is en route is that the Administration is telling them so, like it falsely told them so before. A leather jacketed and stern faced visit by the Vice President won’t make the problem go away either.
This continues a pattern of Trump Administration foreign policy miscommunications and blunders. The Trump Administration’s comments about Syria gave Assad the wrong impression the United States would ignore the use of chemical weapons against his people, leading to many deaths. American allies have also been shaken by Trump’s call to Turkey’s President Erdogan, effectively congratulating him for assuming dictatorial powers. A German reporter directly asked Trump why he says so many things he knows are not true after an awkward meeting the German leader where Trump refused to shake her hand. Trump infuriated British Intelligence officials when he falsely accused them of complicity in wire tapping his campaign.
An amateur in foreign policy heads an administration of amateurs in foreign policy. The foreign policy bumbling of this President, and his Administration, has gone beyond embarrassing tweets and awkward meetings with other heads of state. The clowns running this show are not funny anymore.
At a minimum Trump needs to ensure his dealing with foreign allies is more honest than his Twitter account.