Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s idea to withdraw American forces from Asia—letting allies like Japan and South Korea fend for themselves, including possibly by acquiring nuclear weapons—is fundamentally unsound, as I’ve written in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Among the many dangers of preemptively pulling American forces out of Japan and South Korea, including an increased risk of war between Japan and China and a serious blow to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, such a move would heighten the threat of war between China and Taiwan. The possibility that the United States would dismantle its Asia security framework could unsettle Taiwan enough that it would pursue a nuclear deterrent against China, as it has considered doing in the past—despite China indicating that such an act itself could be a pathway to war. And without bases in Japan, the United States could not as easily deter China from potential military attacks on Taiwan.
Trump’s proposed Asia policy could take the United States and its partners down a very dangerous road. It’s an experiment best not to run.