That should be the U.S. approach to Europe and Japan as well. Washington should be concerned about maintaining a robust balance of power in critical regions. In an extreme situation, that could require American military involvement. But the U.S. should not promiscuously intervene for objectives of minimal importance and when others are capable of acting. The Defense Department should not act as a charity, subsidizing those who prefer to devote their resources to civilian uses.
French president Emmanuel Macron complained that the NATO alliance was brain dead. Even more so is Washington’s foreign policy establishment. The latter’s motto might as well be: America must do everything, forever. The time for such a policy has passed. At least the president understands that the status quo no longer can be justified. One way or another, Seoul should start paying for its defense.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.