Trump Works Overtime to Shake Down Allies in Asia and Appease North Korea

Trump Works Overtime to Shake Down Allies in Asia and Appease North Korea
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo hold a joint press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 15, 2019 (pool photo by Jung Yeon-je of AFP).

The Trump administration’s pandering to North Korea is finally reaching its limits, with implications beyond the Korean Peninsula.

At a press briefing Sunday in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the U.S. and South Korea were postponing a major and long-scheduled air exercise as “an act of good will” toward the North for the “advancement of peace.” This wasn’t the first time the Trump administration had cancelled or postponed readiness drills in South Korea, where the United States has long maintained a large military presence, recently estimated at 28,500 troops.

But a pattern is now clear. The Wall Street Journal, in reporting the postponement, described the latest decision matter-of-factly as “a bid to appease” Pyongyang—a damning phrase one is more accustomed to seeing in the opinion pages.

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