President Donald Trump continues to coddle America’s enemies and confront its friends, according to a piece Thursday in the New York Times.
“President Trump, arriving in Japan on Thursday, opened his latest foreign trip much as he did his last one, lashing out at America’s allies, including his hosts, just before sitting down with them to talk through differences on issues like security and trade,” wrote Peter Baker of the Times in “Heading to G20, Trump Once Again Assails America’s Friends.”
Trump “assailed Japan, Germany and India” in the hours before he left for Osaka, Baker wrote. He said if the U.S. was attacked, Japan would “’watch it on a Sony television.’ He called Germany a security freeloader and chastised India for raising tariffs on American goods.”
Baker then pointed out Trump is scheduled to meet on Friday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, then jointly with Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, then separately with Modi after that and then, later, with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
Meanwhile, “By contrast, Mr. Trump said nothing critical about the fourth leader on his diplomatic schedule for Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose government waged a systematic campaign to interfere in American elections in 2016 and has arrested two Americans on what critics consider false charges,” Baker wrote.
“Nor did he say anything negative about his breakfast date for Saturday morning, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who was just accused by the United Nations of having most likely orchestrated the murder and dismemberment of a Saudi journalist living in the United States.”
Baker then pointed out that “In saving his critiques for America’s friends, Mr. Trump repeated his approach to visiting Britain earlier in the month,” when he said he didn’t realize Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, had been “nasty” toward him – a remark the media twisted into him calling Markle nasty – and calling Sadiq Khan, the major of London, “’a stone-cold loser’ who is doing a terrible job of running Britain’s capital.”
Baker does not point out on what basis he knows Markle or Khan have been “friends” of Trump, which is striking since both have been consistently critical of Trump and both of the remarks Baker mentioned were in response to Markle and Khan having attacked the president previously.
He also seems to mischaracterize Trump’s remarks about Japan. The president actually said, “We have a treaty with Japan. If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. We will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives and with our treasure. We will fight at all costs, right? But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack.”
He did not suggest there was anything wrong with this arrangement, which was born in treaty obligations created after World War II that prevent Japan from having a robust military and allow the U.S. to locate bases and troops in Japan. The Japanese responded that the “obligations of the United States and Japan are balanced between the countries.”
Baker then attempts to paint Trump as out of touch on his claim that “We pay for close to 100 percent of NATO … because Germany doesn’t pay what they’re supposed to pay, and out of the 28 countries, seven are paid up.”
“What Mr. Trump was referring to was a commitment by NATO allies to each spend 2 percent of their national economies on their own armed forces by 2024. He was correct that only seven countries meet that goal – the United States with 3.4 percent, along with Greece, Estonia, Britain, Romania, Poland and Latvia – and Germany spends only 1.4 percent on defense. But neither Germany nor any of the others are obliged to ‘pay up’ to anyone other than their own militaries.”