South Korean and American officials kicked off a round of talks yesterday concerning the nearly 30-year old cost-sharing agreement that reimburses the United States for a portion of the cost of stationing forces in South Korea, but talks also collapsed yesterday.
In very Trumpian fashion, it appears that American officials walked away from talks because South Korea did not immediately agree to the 400 percent figure demanded by Trump.
Chief negotiator James DeHart says they walked away from talks to give the South Korea government "time to reconsider," but Korean officials say the Americans piled other new demands on top of the cost-sharing demands.
South Korea's chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo, in his separate press briefing, said that Tuesday's negotiation could not proceed as planned, as the US team not only demanded a significant increase in burden for South Korea, but also added a new category.
"We couldn't conduct the talk as planned as the US team left the venue," Jeong said. "We maintain our current stance that the cost division (between the US and South Korea) needs to be decided based on the Special Measures Agreement frame in which we have agreed for the past 28 years."
It's not clear what the "new category" referred to by Eun-bo is, but in any case it looks like Trump is applying his signature, blundering "maximum pressure" style of negotiation to one of our closest allies in the world.
Telling the Trump regime to shove it up their ass is not as easy for the South Korean government as it is for us, but that's exactly what I believe they should do. They should dare Trump to say he's going to withdraw American forces over a few billion dollars. A bipartisan majority of Congress would almost certainly rebuke him and public opinion would turn sharply against it.
The only party that's winning right now is North Korea as Trump makes American forces look like neighborhood rent-a-thugs demanding protection money.
Our allies no longer see us as a reliable partner under Trump and I can't argue with them. We're not.