Just in the past week, two Trump lies may have cost us the good faith of a key ally – South Korea.
Forget about the fact the Vice President, Mike Pence, visited the DMZ and in an symbolic show of power, left his building and stared an icy gaze toward the North. [Forget about it because unless someone in a tower looking through binoculars could see Pence’s “blue steel,” no one from North Korea cared.] Because two huge Trump gaffes this week have called into question South Korea’s faith in the United State’s ability and willingness to protect them.
The first of these is due to the fact that Trump told South Korea, the United States, and indeed, the world, that he was sending a fleet led by the USS Carl Vinson toward the Korean peninsula in a show of power, resolve, and unity with the people of South Korea.
There is one big problem with Trump’s claim though – that fleet wasn’t headed toward the Korean peninsula. It was – and remains – headed toward the Indian Ocean. The New York Times explains:
When news broke less than two weeks ago that the Trump administration was sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula, many South Koreans feared a war with North Korea. Others cheered for Washington, calling the deployment a powerful symbol of its commitment to deterring the North.
On Wednesday, after it was revealed that the carrier strike group was actually thousands of miles away and had been heading in the opposite direction, toward the Indian Ocean, South Koreans felt bewildered, cheated and manipulated by the United States, their country’s most important ally. […]
Compounding their anger over the Carl Vinson episode, many South Koreans were also riled at Mr. Trump for his assertion in a Wall Street Journal interview last week that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Although Korea was often invaded by China and forced to pay tributes to its giant neighbor, many Koreans say the notion that they were once Chinese subjects is egregiously insulting.
An MSNBC report highlights a statement in the AP this morning, “Unpredictable. Unhinged. Dangerous. Many South Koreans are using those words to describe the president of their most important ally, rather than the leader of their archrival to the North.”
They go one to conclude that this is just another victim in a string of ally alienations, “For those keeping score, after three months in office, Donald Trump has now managed to annoy and/or offend South Korea, Great Britain, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and China, among others. Ordinarily, it’d take years for a president to outrage this many countries, but Trump is clearly an over-achiever. This seems like a problem Mike Pence’s facial expressions probably won’t be able to fix.”