Trump Cancels Korean Military Exercises, Gets Nothing In Return

Once again, President Trump gets taken for a sucker by the North Koreans.

President Trump may have walked away from the Hanoi summit with nothing, but it appears that North Korea got something without having to give up anything in return:

WASHINGTON — The United States and South Korea will suspend two large-scale joint military exercises this spring, two American officials said Friday, as part of President Trump’s efforts to maintain the truce he has struck with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

A limited version of the training drills, however, are still expected to go forward, officials said. The United States and South Korea have long held large-scale exercises in the spring, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle — the latter of which usually includes thousands of ground, naval, air and special operations troops from both nations.

The decision to scale back the military exercises follows nuclear talks this week between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim that ended without an agreement on how — or whether — to shut down North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. As the Trump administration continues to seek a resolution, a Defense Department official said, the high-profile missile exercises that Pyongyang views as provocative will be toned down.

The official said the decision to formally suspend the large-scale drills was expected to be announced by the United States and South Korea in the next few days. It was first reported by NBC News.

It is the latest in a series of planned military exercises that Washington and Seoul have canceled in the past year in order to avoid roiling Pyongyang. Mr. Trump has also said that the war drills cost too much.

Pentagon officials had braced for another suspension after the latest nuclear talks. Suspending exercises can hamper military readiness.

At the end of the summit meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday, Mr. Trump again called the exercises “very expensive.”

“Look, you know, exercising is fun and it’s nice and they play the war games,” Mr. Trump told journalists in Hanoi. “And I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because, at some levels, it is. But at other levels, it’s not.”

This isn’t the first time that the United States has, without getting anything return, canceled military exercises with the Republic of Korea. After meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last June, the President canceled the military exercises that were scheduled to take place last summer with the Republic of Korea, claiming without providing any real evidence that the exercises cost too much notwithstanding he had just presided over the biggest increase in defense spending in years, increasing the Pentagon’s budget by even more than the DoD was asking for itself. At the time many experts and analysts criticized the move both because it deprived American and South Korean forces the opportunity to work together on responses to the potential aggression from the North. They also pointed out that these exercises had not been canceled once during the decades before during which they had been held. Throughout that time, though, they have been an occasion for the North Koreans to claim, falsely, that the United States and South Korea were threatening the DPRK through the exercises themselves, a fundamentally absurd claim

Assuming that these exercises could be canceled without reducing the effectiveness of the ability of American and South Korean forces to continue to present an effective deterrent, it’s clear that the decision to cancel them without getting anything in return from the DPRK is a foolish mistake on Trump’s part. As noted, the North Koreans have claimed for decades that these exercises were somehow a threat to them. While this is an absurd claim on its face, the fact that they are apparently so important to the Kim regime should have been used as a bargaining chip to get something we want out of the North Koreans. Instead, we gave them something they want, something that will arguably cost us something when it comes to military readiness on the Korean Peninsula, and got absolutely nothing in return.

So much for The Art of the Deal, eh?

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Military Affairs, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Butbutbutbutbutbut he makes the best deals! He told me so!

    trump folds like a cheap suit. He’s also begging the Chinese to set aside the tariffs on US agriculture products.

  2. KM says:

    I really pity the next President. They’re going to have a hell of a time getting us even close to where we were before this dumpster fire sullied the Oval Office. We’re going to lose so much in terms of power, prestige and leverage the world over and all because a bunch of people let their feelings & prejudices override their brains and elected a BS conman to the highest office.

    History is going to list MAGA as the deathknell to Pax Americana. God only knows what comes after…..

    16
    1
  3. CSK says:

    Well, Putin and Kim thought it was a really good idea, so of course Trump did it.

  4. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump Cancels Korean Military Exercises, Gets Nothing In Return…we gave them something they want, something that will arguably cost us something when it comes to military readiness on the Korean Peninsula, and got absolutely nothing in return.

    Trump’s Toady
    Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 06:58:
    There is a delicate negotiation going on here and brinkmanship is the coin of that realm. It’s not pretty, but it’s called reality.
    Had Trump gone to the mat on this one, and spoiled the delicate negotiations that have been going on, it would have provided you one more opportunity to call Trump a failure.

    Trump is a failure. He brings it on himself.
    “He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” Trump said.
    “Putin told me Kim Blah Blah Blah…
    “Grab them by the pussy!”

  5. Scott says:

    It is really astounding how profoundly and dangerously ignorant Trump is of national defense and how it works. Without joint exercises there is no way to be sure that if an action has to occur it won’t a disaster in the making through poor coordination and communication.

    And his comments on not being reimbursed make me think that he thinks our armed forces are mercenaries to be hired out. I can’t even describe how much that pisses me off.

  6. Teve says:

    @KM:

    We’re going to lose so much in terms of power, prestige and leverage the world over and all because a bunch of people let their feelings & prejudices override their brains and elected a BS conman to the highest office.

    those Trump shirts that say fuck your feelings? People misinterpret those. They don’t really mean fuck your feelings. They mean fuck your feelings.

  7. Slugger says:

    The US has had a mutual defense treaty with South Korea since 1953. They took this seriously and put 300,000 troops into Vietnam suffering 16,000 casualties (5000 KIA). Did we consult with them prior to this action? It would be very dishonorable just to cut them off.

  8. Kathy says:

    America got nothing.

    Trump got the thrill of making his crush happy. that’s YUGE!!!!!

  9. An Interested Party says:

    I really pity the next President. They’re going to have a hell of a time getting us even close to where we were before this dumpster fire sullied the Oval Office.

    We’ve been here before…Bush to Obama…history repeating itself…this is a rather disturbing trend…

  10. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: it’s the same with deficits. Reagan blows it up, Clinton gets it down. Bush blows it up, Obama gets it down. Trump blows it up…

  11. Timothy Watson says:

    @Kathy: Here I was thinking that the romance was over and Kim Jong-un was no longer a 10!

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    What I read in one or two articles about this cancellation (from links that were provided in a comment posted here) is that the big exercise will be replaced by smaller ones that simply don’t duplicate the whole event all in one place. AS Doug noted, the big problem here is that the only Master of Industry [TM] superior to our own Guarneri made a yuuuuuge concession and got nothing in return.

    Now it might be that he was thinking that since the Koreans and US aren’t really cancelling the exercise–just breaking it down into component parts, it would have been wrong to seek a concession from NK. Alas, while I do commend his sense of fair play, Trump simply dropped the ball on that. Getting something in return for giving up nothing is one of the most important features of his so-called “art of the deal” system.

    He’s to old to run a con anymore. He needs to step down and let someone else take over. It’s too bad that he seems to have not trained his kids to take over for him.

  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Has anyone noticed…

    He’s a big fan of walls for the USA.

    But he seems determined to eliminate them for Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

  14. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Butbutbutbutbutbut he makes the best deals!

    Of course he does.

    Don’t believe me? Ask Kim Jung Un.

    Seriously, Kim didn’t get what he wants, either. But thus far he’s gotten more than Dennison (anything is better than nothing, ask Bart Simpson*). He may figure eventually he’ll get some of what he wants and it will cost him very little.

    * Old, old, old reference.

  15. Teve says:

    OT but fun: when AOC was 16 some scientists named an asteroid after her.

    (Her Jr year of HS she won 2nd place in the microbiology division of the international Intel science fair, and some scientists were in the habit of naming asteroids after kids who did impressive shit like that.)

  16. SC_Birdflyte says:

    All-purpose lede for any story involving Agent Orange and foreign policy negotiations: “President Trump got taken for a sucker yesterday in negotiations with ___________.” (fill in the blank)

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    Well, Putin and Kim thought it was a really good idea

    I think the first half of that equation is the only one that matters. Seriously. Who, aside from Putin, would have advised him to unilaterally give up something after getting humiliated at the negotiating table?

  18. Grumpy realist says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: it’s going to be amusing looking at who’s going to win out in the fantastic Mano-a-Mano between the U.S. and the U.K.(which all the Brexiters are counting on to save their asses as the U.K. crashes out of the E.U.)

    P.S. still nothing worthwhile has occurred. The U.K. government is still arguing with itself.

  19. mattbernius says:

    @Slugger:

    The US has had a mutual defense treaty with South Korea since 1953. They took this seriously and put 300,000 troops into Vietnam suffering 16,000 casualties (5000 KIA). Did we consult with them prior to this action? It would be very dishonorable just to cut them off.

    There has already been outcry from Conservative South Korean politicians about this decision. They are framing it as a betrayal.

    I have yet to see any English language reporting on President Moon’s position on this. It could be entirely possible that he is in support of the cancellation (as he’s been responsible for a lot of the negotiations with the North).