November 15, 2017

The 5 things we learned from Trump’s Asia trip

By Mira Rapp-Hooper

President Trump returned Tuesday night after 12 days in Asia. So what did we learn from his stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines? Here are five takeaways:

1) Trump embraced alliances (sort of) but didn’t really reassure anyone

A typical goal of presidential trips is to tend to alliance relations — to maintain and renew ties, provide reassurance where needed or smooth over problems. Given Trump’s long-standing skepticism of alliances, there were significant questions about whether he would reassure anxious allies in Japan and South Korea.

The Japan leg of the trip went reasonably smoothly. Given the close bond Trump has formed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that’s perhaps unsurprising.

A smooth visit was not a given in South Korea, where relations have been frosty. Since taking office, Trump has called on South Korea to pay for the THAAD missile defense system and has threatened to end the U.S.-ROK free trade deal.

And Trump’s repeated threats to use unilateral force against North Korea are damaging to the U.S.-Korean alliance, forcing the progressive new president,  Moon Jae-in, to distance himself from the United States. South Korean public opinion of the U.S. president is at a nadir.

Read the full commentary in the Washington Post.

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