In the run-up to the US presidential election of 2017, then candidate Trump berated all past US Presidents for involvement in wars around the world. He lambasted past US presidents for the continued stationing of troops in far flung parts of the globe.
He added, funds ‘wasted’ on stationing troops could better be used for job-creation and to uplift conditions in the US. He harangued US allies where US troops were stationed, accusing them of sponging off US largesse, demanded they pay for the upkeep of troops stationed in their countries, promised to bring to an end US involvement in wars abroad and bring the troops back home.
Now in the third year of his presidency, Trump still continues to gripe about the cost of maintaining troops in different parts of the world. He insults US allies for not paying their ‘fair share’ towards the maintenance of US troops in countries outside of the US - happily forgetting it was the US itself which stationed its troops in the said countries.
For instance, Japan has for decades been trying to boot the US out of its country and close down its massive military base in Okinawa - home to around 40,000 troops, and presently the largest US Air Force base in the Pacific region.
In South Korea the US maintains 28,500 troops. South Korean President Moon has indicated he was willing to sign a formal declaration of peace with North Korea.
North Korean President Kim in turn pledged an end to weapons tests and agreed to dismantle the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site. But said it would be contingent on US troops leaving the Korean peninsula.
However, reunification -or a formal peace treaty between North and South Korea- would undermine US arguments for its continued military presence and raise questions as to why US troops remain in Korea and Japan if there was peace on the Korean peninsula. China is opposed to South Korea’s hosting of US THAAD missiles on its soil and opposition would grow stronger if the so-called North Korean threat were to be neutralised via a peace treaty drawn up between the two Koreas.
And so, despite numerous meetings between Trump and N. Korean leader Kim, the US has yet to put in place any concrete step to better relations between itself and N. Korea or help take forward efforts between the two Koreas to reach a peace agreement. Instead it promotes war games with S. Korea, which led N. Korea to resume missile testing.
In the Middle East, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ signed between the US, the EU,Russia, China and Iran and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, despite Iran upholding its end of the deal.
With its population suffering under sanctions, Iran struck back in the way it could -harassing oil-laden ships using the Straits of Hormuz. The US responded by sending aircraft carriers and warships into the Straits, and last month (June), the world was brought to the brink of war when Iran downed a US drone which overflew its territory.
Trump ordered an airstrike on Iran, but pulled back at the last moment claiming he wanted to ‘spare innocent lives...’ The Pentagon initially claimed the drone was flying in international airspace when hit by a missile... and provided images of the drones flight path.
The Pentagon’s images of the drone’s route initially included an incorrect description of its flight path. On Friday, US officials belatedly confirmed Iran’s assertion that a second, manned plane –a US navy P-8A Poseidon - was present during the incident, a fact they had previously failed to mention...”
Britain’s ‘Observer’ in June editorially commenting on the incident said: “Donald Trump was repeatedly warned that his aggressive policy of escalating military and economic “maximum pressure” on Iran risked triggering war by accident. Last week, the long-predicted miscalculations duly occurred and, for a few scary hours, the world tottered on the brink. Both sides in the Gulf made mistakes, although US commanders appear more at fault. But the biggest mistake of all was made in 2016, when Americans picked a dangerous fool for president.”
The US duplicitous behaviour is not surprising, in Afghanistan and Iraq systemic blunders, notably by the US Air force, have cost thousands of civilian lives, as UN figures show. The US record in the Gulf is a little better. In 1988, a US navy missile cruiser shot down an Iranian passenger jet killing 290 people...
The Pentagon initially denied responsibility, then claimed the plane posed a threat. In 1996, the US finally paid compensation!