Database: Donald Trump’s Skepticism of U.S. Troops in Korea Since 1990
This study sought to gather all of the publicly available statements made by Donald Trump on the utility of alliances and U.S. troop commitments abroad in an effort to test the proposition that the real estate mogul turned president has a transactional view of alliances as opposed to a deep appreciation of both the security and non-security benefits afforded by these relationships. We searched for campaign and political rallies, interviews and speeches, meetings, press conferences, television appearances, as well as social media posts to acquire this data. Second-hand accounts were also checked for references to these issues.1 2
A review of these statements shows:
- Long before he became president and as far back as a 1990 Playboy interview, Trump has been skeptical of the utility of U.S. troop commitments to allies. This is a consistent theme throughout the last nearly three decades of 122 discrete public comments we have collected.
- He believes that allies are free-riding off of U.S. security guarantees.
- A consistent message is that allies need to pay more, if not all of the costs for U.S. forces, which will have implications for the next rounds of burden-sharing negotiations with Korea, NATO, and Japan.
- He believes that allies, while enjoying the beneficence of American security guarantees also take advantage of the United States with large trading deficits.
- There is little evidence of an appreciation of allies like Korea as serving U.S. interests in terms of common values, common global agendas, or common challenges and opportunities.
But the big culprits are other countries and what they are doing to us…You look as an example, South Korea. We are spending tremendous. We spend billions and billions of dollars to protect them from North Korea. They are not giving us anything. What are we doing? You know they are a competitor of ours. Hey they are wonderful people. We have had partners from South Korea. But why are we doing this all free? We are not in that position as a country. They should be paying us for this. We send all those aircraft carriers over. All those ships, the planes, the bombers. And we get nothing out of it. Except in all fairness, they take most of our business. They have made some unbelievable deals with our government. You know they are just taking our business. So why aren’t they paying for this kind of protection?
– April 5, 2013, interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren3
What do we get from our economic competitor South Korea for the tremendous cost of protecting them from North Korea? – NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2013
Donald Trump's Statements/Tweets on Troop Commitments to the ROK since 1990
|What he said
|We Americans are laughed at around the world for losing a hundred and fifty billion dollars year after year, for defending wealthy nations for nothing, nations that would be wiped off the face of the earth in about fifteen minutes if it weren’t for us. Our “allies” are making billions screwing us.
|During a recent speech I made a statement, why should we secure and bring great safety to all of these very wealthy nations that rip us off consistently like, as an example, South Korea and others, and not get paid for it. Why are we their security guard? We should use our military and frankly make a lot of money with our military. We have the greatest military in the world, we have the greatest soldiers in the world. We're not using them as soldiers; they're really acting as a police force. We go in, we win a war in one day, and the rest of the time we're nothing but policemen. And by the way it's policemen where it's never going to work. If we protect a nation, they have to pay us for that protection.
|Trump Organization video log (since deleted)
|Well, yeah. Why aren't they paying us? They make hundreds of billions of dollars from us, with their LG televisions, that I buy by the thousands. Because frankly, you can't buy any American manufacturer, practically. So, I buy them by the thousands for hotel rooms and places that I have. And I'm saying -- and it's a wonderful product, everything's great. But they make a fortune on us. I'm saying, why aren't they--when you turn on that ignition for that little aircraft carrier, that probably costs $1 million, okay? So, we're sending these ships over to North Korea. I mean, why aren't they paying for this? Why don't they pay for their protection?
|If you look at North Korea, South Korea, we’re protecting South Korea,” Trump said. “They’re making a fortune. Let’s call it hundreds of billions of dollars of profit on us. We have 25,000 soldiers over there protecting them. They don’t pay us. Why don’t they pay us?
|What I don't like seeing is South Korea, we have thousands of troops in South Korea. We're protecting them from North Korea, we're sending ships. We're doing everything. You know what happens. They give us nothing. Saudi Arabia, we're protecting...Wait a minute.
|Bill O'Reilly show
|Our leaders are stupid this stupid people. It's just it's very very sad and there are so many stories like that you look at it. You know how many soldiers? Thousands and thousands of soldiers in between North and South Korea. Give us nothing. In fact, they take our trade now, what would I do do a lot different I'd say, thank you darling. I'll think about that. I'm gonna--I think I'm gonna make you very happy about it. So we have thousands of troops and you talk about you know, they have an expression In Harm's Way. How would you like to be sitting between North Korea and South Korea? And you're sitting in a little barracks those guys are in danger. And you know what? That's fine. I'd say the South Korea all those television sets you sell us and all the billions and billions and billions of dollars you make we're going to protect you and we're going to make sure you're in good shape, but you're going to pay for it. You got to pay for it and you want to know something they would do it in two minutes.
|Nevada Republican Party gathering, Las Vegas
|How much is South Korea paying the U.S. for protection against North Korea???? NOTHING!
|You look at what's currently happening with South Korea. Now, I buy all my televisions from South Korea, I'm sorry to say. I just ordered 3,000 units, 3,000 televisions--South Korea, LGs, et cetera. We don't make them in our country anymore. I get criticized. Oh, why didn't you buy them here? You can't buy them here. We don't make televisions in this country. All right, so North Korea, as it always does, gets frisky, and then we pay them off and they get less frisky, right? North Korea gets frisky. What do we get out of it? We send our beautiful aircraft carriers. We send our destroyers. You know every time you turn on the engine, it's $5 billion, right? And we send them down, and we stop whatever's going to happen to South Korea? What do we get out of it? We get nothing.
|What do we get from our economic competitor South Korea for the tremendous cost of protecting them from North Korea? - NOTHING!
|I ask again, how much is very wealthy South Korea paying the United States for protecting it against North Korea?
|But the big culprits are other countries and what they are doing to us…You look as an example, South Korea. We are spending tremendous--we spend billions and billions of dollars to protect them from North Korea. They are not giving us anything. What are we doing? You know they are a competitor of ours. Hey, they are wonderful people. We have had partners from South Korea. But why are we doing this all free? We are not in that position as a country. They should be paying us for this. We send all those aircraft carriers over. All those ships, the planes, the bombers. And we get nothing out of it. Except in all fairness, they take most of our business. They have made some unbelievable deals with our government. You know they are just taking our business. So why aren’t they paying for this kind of protection?
|I keep asking how long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment. South Korea is a very, very rich country. They're rich because of us. They sell us televisions, they sell us cars, they sell us everything. They are making a fortune. We have a huge deficit with South Korea. They're friends of mine. I do deals with them. I've been partners with them, no problem, but they think we're stupid. They can't believe it. We are defending them against North Korea. We're doing it for nothing. We're not in that position. When will they start to pay us for this defense? Isn't it really ridiculous when you think of it, they make a fortune in the United States and then they've got some problems and what happens? They call the United States to defend them. And we get nothing.
|Trump Organization video log (since deleted)
|I can't believe we are not asking South Korea for anything. They make a fortune on us while we spend a fortune defending them-how stupid!
|South Korea must in some form pay for our help-the U.S. must stop being stupid!
|South Korea is absolutely killing us on trade deals. Their surplus vs U.S. is massive - and we pay for their protection. WHO NEGOTIATES?
|You know, we spend more money by many, many times on the military than anybody else. I've been analyzing this for the last month. The money we spend is like protecting other places, like we protect Saudi Arabia. We protect South Korea. We protect Germany. We protect so many other places. I'm saying what are we getting out of this? What do we get out of this? These are competitors of ours and they're economic competitors, you know, they're above ours. What are we getting? There are so many places where we can cut because we have these massive deficits.
|We got--I'll tell you what those 28,000 troops that we have right now on the border between North and South Korea that's dangerous territory. They're in harm's way, they're in harm's way, and we get nothing, we get nothing other than they're a good competitor. I mean they compete with us, they take our trade, we lose a fortune with them.
|Campaign speech in Mobile, Alabama
|But you know, there's got to be a point where we cannot protect everybody. You know, we're protecting everybody. I talked about it last night in my speech from Iowa. It was such an amazing group of people. And you know, we're protecting Germany, we're protecting Japan. We're protecting South Korea. Hugh, I just bought 4,000 television sets on a big project I built, and 4,000, and they all come, every bidder is from South Korea. They're making a fortune, and yet we have 28,000 soldiers at the border.
|Hugh Hewitt radio show
|Every time somebody raises a rifle in the air and points it in the direction of Saudi Arabia, or, by the way, South Korea and other places, every single time that happens, and I mean without exception, we start loading up and getting ready and sending ships and sending all sorts of things. We get nothing. And you know, maybe you'll explain why, but we get nothing. And I don't like that.
|Hugh Hewitt radio show
|I ordered four thousand television sets recently. They come from South Korea. South Korea makes a fortune as a country. We defend them. We have set 28,000 solders on the line and we have this maniac on the other side. We have our soldiers right between them, they pay us like nothing.
|Campaign speech in Richmond, Virginia
|I just ordered 4,000 television sets. You know where they come from? South Korea. And yet we defend South Korea for practically nothing. We have 28,000 soldiers. They’re making a fortune.
|We're a debtor nation. We got to get them to put up money. We defend them. We defend Germany. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea and he's right next to the maniac. We have have 28,000 soldiers, we defend, they give us like nothing.
|Campaign speech in Macon, Georgia
|And we have 28,000 soldiers in the middle of it. And we get paid nothing, we get paid peanuts…Well, I would want South Korea to pay us a lot of money. We’re doing a lot of—what are we doing? I just ordered 4,000 television sets. They come from South Korea. South Korea is a money machine. They pay us peanuts. We’re defending them, and I have many friends from South Korea, they buy my apartments, I do business with them. But South Korea should pay us and pay us very substantially for protecting them.
|And South Korea has to help us out, because we’re defending South Korea. We are defending all these people. We need help. We need help. We are powerful, but I want to make our military very much more powerful.
|Campaign speech in Ottumwa, Iowa
|We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madman and them. We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this.
|I buy televisions, thousands of televisions from South Korea…They make a fortune to build the big ships…We protect them for peanuts. We have 28,000 soldiers right on the line...We're protecting all these people.
|Campaign speech in Windham, New Hampshire
|The allies that we have take advantage of us, for the most part…But when you look at the fact that we protect nations that are making a fortune. South Korea, they’re wonderful people. I have partnerships. I have all sorts of deals with them. But they are rich. They are very rich.
|Campaign speech in Urbandale, Iowa
|We have to be paid…We have a budget that is so many times higher than number two, because we're protecting Japan. We're protecting Germany. We're protecting South Korea against the maniac in North Korea…Think they pay us peanuts.
|Campaign speech in Concord, New Hampshire
|And with the military--by the way, we're protecting countries that are behemoths. We're protecting countries that are so rich, so powerful, so incredible--South Korea. We protect South Korea. I have many friends--I have deals, I have buildings in South Korea. But we're protecting South Korea. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line, between the maniac and South Korea. We're protecting them. They pay us peanuts…We protect them. They pay us, like, practically nothing compared to the cost. They’ve got to pay up. They’ve got to pay up. Everybody got to pay up. We can’t do this anymore. We’ve got to run it like a business, but with heart.
|Campaign speech in Lynchburg, Virginia
|But you know what we do, we spend it all protecting other countries, and in some cases those other countries are economic behemoths, like Germany, like Japan, like South Korea. We protect South Korea, and I have friends, by the way, love the people of Germany, love the people of Japan, love the people of South Korea. I have buildings in South Korea, it's a very great place, but we have 28,000 soldiers on our line. We have 28,000, think of it. We get like peanuts. So we are protecting them...They pay us nothing, they pay us peanuts compared to what it's costing us, so what are we doing it for?
|Campaign speech in Waterloo, Iowa
|We take care of South Korea…All the stuff, made in South Korea…They are a behemoth, and yet we have 28,000 soldiers, great, young, beautiful people on the border, between North and South Korea, and this madman, and he's got nuclear…
|Campaign speech in Greenville, South Carolina
|So we have a border. And you have this maniac in North Korea. And we defend. And you know what we get? Everything I order, thousands of televisions, and air conditioners and all those stuff. It comes out of South Korea. They are an economic monster. They make a fortune...We defend South Korea. Everytime he raises his head, and say we are going to do this, we are going to do that...We start sending ships, we send everything else...We get nothing. What do we get? We get nothing.
|Campaign speech in North Augusta, South Carolina
|We have so many countries--South Korea--you know, I order thousands of television sets a year for different projects, and they're all made in South Korea, other than Sony, which is Japan, but, I mean, for the most--LG, Samsung--it's such a great question, because these countries are making a fortune. And we take care of Saudi Arabia. We take care of Japan. We take care of Germany. We have--you know, when you look at our budget, for military, it's 10 times higher, it's so much bigger than anybody else in the world. But what do we do? We take care of all these other countries.
|MSNBC Town Hall in Charleston, South Carolina
|We've become like a third world nation because we're fighting everybody else's battles. And remember this, we are the policemen of the world but don't get paid anything…But we protect South Korea. So every time we order televisions, they come from South Korea. They make a fortune. We protect South Korea. Let me tell you something. Why aren't they paying? They pay peanuts for what we do. Every time this guy, you know, raises his head, we see our ships sail. We have 28,000 soldiers at the border. So we take care of the world.
|Campaign speech in Walterboro, South Carolina
|I agree with that, but we have to be reimbursed for the money. We cannot continue to police the rest of the world, including Asia, so that South Korea can have free trade and so that other people can have all this free trade, and so they can get rich, and that we have our ships all over the place, and we have our planes flying and spending billions and billions of dollars. These are wealthy countries that have to reimburse us for the cost.
|Breitbart News Daily, Steve Bannon
|Here you have an economic behemoth in South Korea, they pay us peanuts. But everytime, we have 28,000 soldiers between North and South Korea, that's a dangerous job by the way. We have 28,000 soldiers. They get paid peanuts. They make a lot of money. They are good people. Everything is good. But they have to take care of us. We are not in a position to be the policeman of the world.
|Campaign speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia
|One thing I'd like to add to what the Governor's saying, I think that we are now in a position -- are $19 trillion dollars because of the horrible omnibus budget that was approved six weeks ago, it's going to be $21 trillion dollars. We can no longer defend all of these countries, Japan, Germany, South Korea. You order televisions, you order almost anything, you're getting it from these countries. Whether it's a Mercedes-Benz, or whether it's an air conditioning unit. They're coming out of these countries. They are making a fortune. Saudi Arabia, we are defending Saudi Arabia. Before the oil went down, now they're making less, but they're making plenty. They were making $1 billion dollars a day. [Bell Rings] We defend all of these countries for peanuts. You talk about budgets. We have to start getting reimbursed for taking care of the military services for all of these countries.
|10th Republican Presidential Candidate Debate, Houston, Texas
|South Korea makes a fortune. I order a thousand, thousands of television sets, they are all made in South Korea. Samsung, LG, they are all made in South Korea. I order thousands of sets. South Korea, we have 28,000 on the line. You have the maniac in North Korea.
|Campaign speech in Millington, Tennessee
|We are a debtor nation. We have no money. We owe all those money. We have no money. We can't afford to have Germany, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was making a billion dollars a day, and now they are making half. Still a lot. But we take care of their military. Why aren't they helping us out. They got to help us.
|Campaign speech in Wichita, Kansas
|Well, look, we spend a tremendous amount of money on energy in the sense that we're protecting all of these people that don't like us too much, folks. And I'll give you an example. Saudi Arabia -- no problems with Saudi Arabia. They were -- before the prices went down, they were making a year ago -- they were making a billion dollars a day, a billion a day, money that -- like nobody’s ever seen. We protect them for peanuts, for practically nothing, and we've spent a tremendous amount of money. South Korea -- when you want a television set, we go to South -- LG, Samsung, they're all made in South Korea. It's a monster in terms of economic -- that goes with air-conditioning, it goes with so many different things, even ships coming out of South Korea.
|Fox News Town Hall in Fayetteville, North Carolina
|Our military is depleted. But we take care of Germany, we take care of Saudi Arabia, we take care of Japan, we take care of South Korea. We take — every time this maniac from North Korea does anything, we immediately send our ships. We get virtually nothing. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line, on the border between North and South Korea.
|12th Republican Presidential Debate in Miami, Florida
|We're spending a fortune on world. We're spending a fortune on Germany. We're spending a fortune on South Korea…they pay us peanuts, not gonna happen anymore.
|Campaign speech in Boca Raton, Florida
|We take care of South Korea…I think it’s great except we owe 19 trillion…when the maniac next door acts up, we start sending those battleships, we start aircraft carriers, our planes are flying in. We spend millions and millions of dollars. They don’t pay us, they pay very little…what they pay us is peanuts.
|Campaign speech in Cincinnati, Ohio
|We're supporting South Korea. I order thousands of television sets from South Korea. They're a behemoth economically. Every time North Korea raises its head, they do anything, they sneeze. We start sending the ships, the planes, anything else. We don't get proper reimbursement for that. Now, I like South Korea. I have property in South Korea. I like it. I have a lot of friends in South Korea. They can't believe they get away with it, to be honest.
|Press conference, Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C.
|You know, South Korea is very rich. Great industrial country. And yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do. We’re constantly, you know, sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games, doing other. We’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing...Why isn't it 100 percent?
|Meeting with Washington Post's editorial board
|HIATT: Well I guess the question is, does the United States gain anything by having bases. TRUMP: Personally I don’t think so. I personally don’t think so. Look. I have great relationships with South Korea. I have buildings in South Korea. But that’s a wealthy country. They make the ships, they make the televisions, they make the air conditioning. They make tremendous amounts of products. It’s a huge, it’s a massive industrial complex country.
|Meeting with Washington Post's editorial board
|HABERMAN: Would you be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from places like Japan and South Korea if they don’t increase their contribution significantly? TRUMP: Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it. Not happily. David actually asked me that question before, this morning before we sort of finalized out. The answer is not happily but the answer is yes. We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it anymore. Now there was a time when we could have done it. When we started doing it. But we can’t do it anymore. And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes. TRUMP: From China to Japan to South Korea to the Middle East, many states in the Middle East, for instance, protecting Saudi Arabia and not being properly reimbursed for every penny that we spend, when they’re sitting with trillions of dollars, I mean they were making a billion dollars a day before the oil went down, now they’re still making a fortune, you know, their oil is very high and very easy to get it, very inexpensive, but they’re still making a lot of money, but they were making a billion dollars a day and we were paying leases for bases? We’re paying leases, we’re paying rent? O.K.? To have bases over there? The whole thing is preposterous. So we had, so America first, yes, we will not be ripped off anymore. We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody. We won’t be isolationists — I don’t want to go there because I don’t believe in that. I think we’ll be very worldview, but we’re not going to be ripped off anymore by all of these countries. I mean think of it. We have $21 trillion, essentially, very shortly, we’ll be up to $21 trillion in debt. O.K.? A lot of that is just all of these horrible, horrible decisions.
|The New York Times
|We are supporting nations now, militarily, we are supporting nations like Saudi Arabia which was making during the good oil days which was a year ago, now they're making less but still a lot, $1 billion a day. We are supporting them, militarily, and pay us a fraction, a fraction of what they should be paying us and of the cost. We are supporting Japan. Most people didn't even know that. Most people didn't know that we are taking care of Japan's military needs. We're supporting Germany. We're supporting South Korea...At some point we have to say, you know what, we're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we're better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself...
|CNN Town Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
|I love Japan…I love Germany, I love South Korea, I love all of them, but it's time they have to pay up, right…And we have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South. And every time this guy who may be a maniac raises his hand, we start defending, we start sending our ships, sending our plans, sending on everybody. And we don't get reimbursed properly for them.
|Campaign speech in Appleton, Wisconsin
|We spend a fortune on defending South Korea. Now, I order thousands of television sets, you know, they come from South Korea. They make so much. They're making a fortune. They're a behemoth, so is Germany. Why we defend them? Yeah. But, why aren't they reimbursing us? Why aren't they paying a good portion of the cost?... No. They're going to get it because it's in their best interest. If we have to walk, we have to walk… No. What I said is I'll keep it the way it is, but they have to pay their fair share. Just the way you've said, South Korea is a behemoth, they make so much.
|MSNBC Town Hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin
|We defend South Korea. We have 28,000 soldiers. I wouldn't want to be one of those with this maniac with nuclear weapons…We get peanuts.
|Campaign speech in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
|So we have 28,000 on the border between North and South…we're just doing their military for peanuts.
|Campaign speech in Superior, Wisconsin
|We are going to make it good. We are going to make sure the nations we are friends with, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, so many nations, we pay for their military. We take care of their military. It is all fine. But we are $19 trillion in debt.
|Campaign speech in Bethpage, New York
|We take care of Germany. We take care of South Korea. We take care of Japan. We take care of everybody and Japan, and we're not reimbursed on a fair basis.
|Campaign speech in Rochester, New York
|When it comes to defending all these countries that are wealthy countries, we defend wealthy countries, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia. They were making a billion dollars a day…we defend them and you know what happens when we asked them for money, they say no.
|Campaign speech in Rome, New York
|And frankly, you have the maniac in North Korea, we take care of South Korea too, we have 28,000 soldiers on the line. But you have the guy in North Korea, and he's probably crazy, gotta be pretty smart.
|Campaign speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|Secondly, our allies are not paying their fair share, and I've been talking about this recently a lot. Our allies must contribute toward their financial, political, and human costs, have to do it, of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so. They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only 4 of 28 other member countries besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense. We have spent trillions of dollars over time on planes, missiles, ships, equipment, building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.
|Center for National Interest, Washington, D.C.
|TRUMP: ... I have great relationships with South Korea. I have buildings in South Korea. I have great relationships with Japan and in Japan. But our government—and a lot of people don't even know this. You know, when I make speeches, I say we protect Germany, we protect Japan, we protect South Korea. You know, many, many people—sophisticated people in the audience—they didn't even know that. They have to help us. We don’t get reimbursed for what this massive amount of work and—and energy and weaponry, what it—what it’s costing. We can’t continue to do it. This isn’t 40 years ago. This isn’t when we were much different as a country. They have to take care of us. Now, I think they will. If they don’t, you have to be prepared to walk. You always have to be prepared to walk from a deal, including the Iran deal, which is a disaster. They should have walked…I am prepared to—if they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world. You know, when people look at our military and they say, “Oh, wow, that's fantastic,” they have many, many times—you know, we spend many times what any other country spends on the military. But it’s not really for us. We’re defending other countries. So all I'm saying is this: they have to pay. And you know what? I'm prepared to walk, and if they have to defend themselves against North Korea, where you have a maniac over there, in my opinion, if they don’t—if they don't take care of us properly, if they don't respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what's going to have to happen, Wolf? It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves. BLITZER: Because the other day, the U.S. military commander in South Korea, General Vincent Brooks, he testified up on Capitol Hill. He said South Korea pays for 50 percent of the personnel costs for U.S. troops— TRUMP: How much—how much percent? BLITZER: Fifty percent. TRUMP: Fifty. Why not 100 percent? BLITZER: But he also says that it’s—it would be more expensive to keep U.S. troops here in the U.S. than to keep them on bases in South Korea. TRUMP: OK, well, I mean maybe you don't need them, OK? Maybe you don’t need them. Look, we’re policing all of these countries. They’re not paying us. We’re policing Saudi Arabia. We are protecting Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia—I have many friends in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia would not be there, Wolf. It wouldn’t be there, maybe for a month, if we took our military out. The only reason they’re sort of protected and they’re totally protected is because we’re protecting them. Saudi Arabia was making a billion dollars a day when the oil price was high. Now they’re still making a fortune. Why aren’t they paying us—BLITZER: So basically what I hear you saying is, if the U.S. is going to keep troops in Japan—and there’s thousands of them, tens of thousands in Korea, 28,000 in— TRUMP: We’ve got to be reimbursed. BLITZER: Korea or Germany, for that matter. TRUMP: Yes. BLITZER: You want the host countries to pick up all the expense. TRUMP: Of course they should pick up all the expense. Why are we paying for this? I mean we are paying to protect them. And I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s good. I'd rather do it rather than have them armed. I would rather do it. And, you know, it was covered, actually, accurately in “The New York Times,” very accurately. And they covered—they covered it because they talked the cost. A lot of people like to say, oh, Trump wants Japan to arm. I don’t want them to arm. I want them to reimburse us for at least the costs. Now you could say it’s worth more than that. But at least reimburse us for the cost. When you say we pay 50 percent, well, if we say we pay 50 percent, that means we pay less, OK. But we’re losing a tremendous amount of money. And we have a military that's not in good shape anymore. You know that. Everybody knows that. And we have to do something about it.
|Look where our country is, OK? We need a new group with better thinking. Number two, as far as Japan and South Korea are concerned. All I'm saying is we defend them. They are paying us a tiny fraction of what it's costing. We -- I want them to pay. I would love to continue to defend Japan. I would love to continue to defend South Korea. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea right now. It is costing us an absolute fortune, which we don't have. We're a debtor nation. I would like them to pay up. They have a lot of money, both of those nations. We take in Japan's cars by the millions. South Korea sells us, every time you buy televisions. [So, you don't have a problem with the troops staying there. You just want Japan and South Korea to pay us for their presence – question by Joe Scarborough] I want them to pay up… Japan, South Korea, nobody, we're like the dummies that protect everybody. All I'm saying is, we have to get reimbursed because we can't afford it.
|We defend South Korea. When the maniac in North Korea raises his head, we send our ships, our planes, all ready to go, but we are not properly taken care of. And this isn't 40 years ago, when we can do it.
|Campaign speech in Washington, D.C.
|I want Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and many other NATO states, nations. They owe us tremendous. We are taking care of all these people. And what I want them to do is pay up...we are not being compensated for what we are doing.
|Campaign speech in Sacramento, California
|South Korea. We have 28,000 on the line between North and South Korea and every time potentially the madman raises his head or opens his mouth we send our ships and our planes and we have everybody ready. They gotta pay us something. We don’t get and if you can, you imagine if these countries pay just a fair price for this. You took it about a whole different United States.
|Campaign speech in Moon Township, Pennsylvania
|We protect South Korea. We protect all these countries and they don't pay us what it costs. They don't pay us, we're losing a fortune. We have to go to those countries which are wonderful countries. We have to say we need help now...We have to be prepared to talk. I don't want to walk. Hopefully we're not going to walk but if you don't say you're going to walk or if you're not prepared to walk you're never going to get them to pay. We are losing billions and billions and billions of dollars protecting very strong financial behemoths. South Korea, how about Saudi Arabia.
|Campaign speech in Houston, Texas
|Just like Hillary Clinton pushed through the trade deal with South Korea that killed another 100,000 jobs...so South Korea another big beneficiary and we protect them. We have 28,000 soldiers now on the line between North and South, and what happens if there is a war, we get involved. In the meantime they are killing us on trade...we protect them, they don't reimburse us for what it is costing. And we will soon owe $21 trillion dollar.
|Campaign speech in Manchester, New Hampshire
|It is very interesting. We spend tremendous, tremendous, tremendous amounts of money protecting other nations that are very, very wealthy -- Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea. We spend much. In South Korea, we have 28,000 soldiers on the line between them and the madman,right? We have 28,000. Every time he acts up, we start sending our ships, our planes, our boats...That you know, you turn on one of those ships, it costs you 2 million dollars. I would say, don't turn on the engine! Save the money! Don't, don't, please. The captain would say, sir, would you like to hear the engine? If it was me, I'd say, no, no, no, just save the money. Relax, the engines are fine. But it's true. It's a different thinking. A lot of business people and it's a different thinking. There's so much waste, there's so much fraud, there's so much abuse. We spend so much money and I don't want to see them armed, ideally, I don't want to see them armed. But you always have to be prepared to walk.
|Campaign speech in Denver, Colorado
|We take care of lots of places, South Korea. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea. South Korea, order a television. See if you can buy one in the United States, you know the answer is, you can't.
|Campaign speech in Raleigh, North Carolina
|Now, Hillary Clinton said: "I will never leave Japan. I will never leave Japan. Will never leave any of our--" Well now, once you say that, guess what happens? What happens? You can't negotiate. In a deal, you always have to be prepared to walk. Hillary Clinton has said, "We will never, ever walk." That's a wonderful phrase, but unfortunately, if I were on Saudi Arabia's side, Germany, Japan, South Korea and others, I would say, "Oh, they're never leaving, so what do we have to pay them for?" You always have to be prepared to walk. It doesn’t mean I want to walk. And I would prefer not to walk. You have to be prepared and our country cannot afford to do what we’re doing.
|The New York Times: Interview with Donald Trump on NATO and the World
|I will never abandon our allies, ever, ever, ever. Now, how do you negotiate when you're telling somebody will never going to leave? We may have to leave. Look, Japan has problems because you have the maniac in North Korea making missiles. But I mean, you know, so we'll get it. Now, South Korea, it is an economic behemoth. You can't buy television that is not made in South Korea, except Sony, which is made in Japan, which has sort of lost its way. Whether it is LG or Samsung. I order thousands of television sets; you can't buy them in the United States. I'd love to. Show me one company. One of the pundits said, they do make them. There's a company.
|Campaign speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania
|Now, if they live up to their obligations, as they should -- and by the way, if they do that, they'll have more spirit in a certain way. OK? But they have to pay. Same thing with Japan and Germany. Can you believe -- a lot of people -- before I ran, did anybody know that we were protecting and paying for a large portion of the protection of Japan, which sells us cars by the millionsm and Germany, and Saudi Arabia, and South Korea? We sort of knew because we have 28,000 soldiers on the border.
|Campaign speech in Colorado Springs, Colorado
|We've got the maniac pretty close to him, you know, North Korea, and and we pay for South Korea. 28,000, soldiers on the line. We pay. And we pay for all these countries.
|Campaign speech in Denver, Colorado
|Additionally, I will be respectfully asking countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia to pay more for the tremendous security we provide them. And they'll fully understand. They're economic behemoths. They're tremendously successful countries, but we're subsidizing them for billions and billions of dollars. I think they'll fully understand.
|Campaign speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
|It’s not an accurate one at all. It’s not an accurate one. So I just want to give a lot of things—and just to respond. I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons, not global warming, like you think and your—your president thinks. Nuclear is the single greatest threat. Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us. But they should be paying us, because we are providing tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune. That’s why we're losing—we’re losing—we lose on everything. I say, who makes these—we lose on everything. All I said, that it’s very possible that if they don’t pay a fair share, because this isn’t 40 years ago where we could do what we’re doing. We can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million...Well, wait, but it’s very important. All I said was, they may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out. We’re a country that owes $20 trillion. They have to help us out.
|The 1st 2016 U.S. presidential debate, Hostra University
|As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody in the -- we're defending other countries. We are spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century. All I said is, we have to renegotiate these agreements, because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and many other places. We cannot continue to afford -- she took that as saying nuclear weapons… But I'd like to start off where we left, because when I said Japan and Germany, and I'm -- not to single them out, but South Korea, these are very rich, powerful countries. Saudi Arabia, nothing but money. We protect Saudi Arabia. Why aren't they paying?... She comes out and said, we love our allies, we think our allies are great. Well, it's awfully hard to get them to pay up when you have somebody saying we think how great they are. We have to tell Japan in a very nice way, we have to tell Germany, all of these countries, South Korea, we have to say, you have to help us out. We have, during his regime, during President Obama's regime, we've doubled our national debt. We're up to $20 trillion.
|The 3rd 2016 U.S. presidential debate, Las Vegas
|[On THAAD] Have they already paid for it? I want to see where it is going. This is a piece of shit land. This is a terrible deal. Who negotiated this deal? What genius? Take it out. I don't want the land. F*** it, pull it back and put it in Portland!
|White House meeting with H.R. McMaster
|Bob Woodward, Fear (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), 106.
|I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system. It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.
|Our goal is peace, stability and prosperity for the region. But the United States will defend itself, always will defend itself, always, and we will always defend our allies. As part of that commitment, we are working together to ensure fair burden sharing and support of the United States military presence in South Korea. Burden sharing is a very important factor. A factor that's becoming more and more prevalent certainly in this administration. We’re also working to create a fair and reciprocal economic relationship. From the when the U.S.-Korea trade deal was signed in 2011, to 2016, you know who signed it, you know who wanted it.
|Press conference with Moon Jae-in
|We spend $3.5 billion a year to have troops in South Korea. The South could not decide if they wanted the THAAD antimissile system or not! And whether they are going to pay for it or not! Pull the f****** thing out! I don't give a shit…Like, $3.5 billion, 28,000 troops. I don't know why they're there. Let's bring them all home!
|White House meeting with Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and Gary Cohn
|Bob Woodward, Fear (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), 224.
|He had no interest in allies, Trump said. He didn’t want any troops in South Korea even when reminded about the differential between the seven second to detect an ICBM launch from there as opposed to 15-minute detection from Alaska.
|White House meeting with H.R. McMaster
|Bob Woodward, Fear (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), 230.
|The people of this country should be very comfortable, and I will tell you this: if North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love, or we represent, or our allies, or us, they can be very, very nervous… The people of our country are safe, our allies are safe, and I will tell you this: North Korea better get their act together, or they're going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world. Okay?
|Press conference, Bedminster, New Jersey
|For me, it's America first. We've been doing that so long that we owe $20 trillion, okay? It's America first. We have to build up our country. I got elected. It's called Make America Great Again. We have debt. We have deals going. I mean, the deal we made, as an example, the trade deal we made with South Korea, is a terrible deal. We're renegotiating it. It's a terrible deal, and we're renegotiating that deal right now. At the same time, we're helping them militarily. But they have to treat us fairly, and other countries have to treat us fairly. As an example, we defend Saudi Arabia. I'm very good friends with many of the people in Saudi Arabia, including the king. I have great respect. Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country. Why are we defending them, and not being properly taken care of economically? It doesn't make sense. Nobody ever thought of it. There are many countries that are extremely wealthy that we defend. Why are we defending them, and spending money to defend them, and they're not reimbursing us properly and fully? And I'm doing that. At the same time, we will have better relationships than we have right now. You know, I have very good relationships with the leaders of countries.
|I'll start off with your second. South Korea -- Republic of Korea, Korea -- is very important to me. And there will be no skipping South Korea, I can tell you that right now. Plus, I've developed great friendships, not only with the President, but with others, and we're not going to let them down and they're not going to let us down. Because we're doing a lot for them, to be honest. We're doing a lot for them. As far as the base is concerned, I thought that Humphreys was an incredible military installation. I know what it costs, and it's a lot of money. We actually spent some of that money, and, as you know, that money was spent, for the most part, to protect South Korea, not to protect the United States. But some of that money was spent by us.
|Press conference with Moon Jae-in
|Like Japan, South Korea is increasing its defense contributions. During our meetings, President Moon acknowledged his desire for equitable cost-sharing for the United States military forces stationed in South Korea. And I visited soldiers at Camp Humphreys, a brand-new, joint American-South Korean base, paid for almost entirely by the South Korean government. At that base, I discussed with the United States and South Korean military leaders both military options and readiness to respond to North Korean provocation or offensive actions.
|White House press conference
|No, I think it's inappropriate to have the Olympics, have millions of people going to the Olympics hopefully, have North Korea going to the Olympics, and we're having exercises on the beach. No, I think that it doesn't -- I think it sends a good message to North Korea, not a bad message. I think it would be totally inappropriate to do that during the Olympics.
|Wall Street Journal interview
|What do we get by maintaining a massive military presence in the Korean Peninsula? …Why are we even friends with South Korea? He wanted to know. What do we get out of this? He had been fuming for a year.
|White House meeting with Jim Mattis and Joseph Dunford
|Bob Woodward, Fear (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), 305.
|So when I look at some of these trade deals, I say, how could this have happened? And the truth is, it was laziness. After World War II, we helped Germany, and we helped all countries. We helped -- and you had the Korean War; we helped South Korea. We helped everybody. And nobody changed. They had no money, they had no anything. They were rebuilding from a war. And the agreements basically stayed the way they were. And they became very wealthy, and they could pay a tremendous amount, and they could pay us back. But nothing happened. And the reason nothing happened is, number one, no imagination. Number two, the people that were in my office and other offices were lazy. They just let it go. But we're not going to be letting it go because it's truly affected our country.
|The White House
|Look, we have rebuilt China. We have rebuilt a lot of—with the money they’ve taken out of the United States. We’re like the piggybank that had people running it that didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And we have rebuilt countries, like, massively. You look at some of these countries—look at South Korea, look at Japan, look at so many countries. And then we defend them, on top of everything else. So we defend Saudi Arabia. They pay us a fraction of what it costs. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. They pay us a fraction of what it costs. And we’re talking to all of those countries about that because it’s not fair that we defend them, and they pay us a fraction of the cost of that defense. Separate argument, but a real problem.
|The White House
|We have rebuilt a lot of -- with the money they've taken out of the United States. We're like the piggybank that had people running it that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And we have rebuilt countries, like, massively. You look at some of these countries -- look at South Korea, look at Japan, look at so many countries. And then we defend them, on top of everything else. So we defend Saudi Arabia. They pay us a fraction of what it costs. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. They pay us a fraction of what it costs. And we're talking to all of those countries about that because it's not fair that we defend them, and they pay us a fraction of the cost of that defense. Separate argument, but a real problem.
|The White House
|How we ever got involved in South Korea in the first place, tell me about it. How we ended up in a Korean war, fighting a Korean war to keep these two places from...Not only that, I mean they’re one of the toughest traders we do business with. They’re probably tougher than China, they’re just smaller so the numbers are smaller. We have a $32 billion deficit with South Korea. I asked the General, “Why do you think we’re doing this service for trade?”
|At some point in the future, I would like to save the money. We have 32,000 troops there…But troops are not on the table...we haven’t been asked to
|Press gaggle at Joint Base Andrews
|Look at what happened with South Korea. Don't forget, we helped South Korea. We have spent trillions of dollars -- not billions -- trillions of dollars over many, many years. We helped South Korea. And South Korea is one of the most incredible countries in terms of what they do. You know that. That's what you are. That's where you're from. Same people. Same people.
|Meeting with Moon Jae-in, The White House
|Likewise, I have spoken to South Korea and Japan. And they are not only ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden, any of the costs associated by the United States in operations, if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us.
|The White House
|No, we're not reducing anything. We're not reducing. At some point, I have to be honest -- and I used to say this during my campaign, as you know, probably, better than most -- I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have, right now, 32,000 soldiers in South Korea, and I'd like to be able to bring them back home. But that's not part of the equation right now. At some point, I hope it will be, but not right now. We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should. But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative.
|Press conference, U.S.-North Korea summit
|We stopped playing those war games that cost us a fortune. You know, we're spending a fortune, every couple of months we're doing war games with South Korea, and I said, "What's this costing?" We're flying planes in from guam, we're bombing empty mountains for practice. I said "I want to stop that and I will stop that, and I think it's very provocative —…[ Did you talk about pulling troops out? U.S. troops out of South Korea.] We didn't discuss that, no. But we're not gonna play the war games. You know, I wanted to stop the war games, I thought they were very provocative. But I also think they're very expensive. We're running the country properly, I think they're very, very expensive. To do it, we have to fly planes in from Guam -- that's six and a half hours away. Big bombers and everything else, I said, "Who's paying for this?" I mean, who pays, in order to practice. [What are the kinds of security --] So one of the things that I suggested and I wanna do is we're going to stop the war games, unless for some reason, we're unable to go further.
|[Is the military drawing down in South Korea? You're kind of hinted at that, and is there going to be this kind of tit for tat?] No, it's not drawing down at all. In fact, honestly it was never discussed. I'm sure he would like that. It was never on the table. You know, when I met him today, we have a very good relationship I feel. I feel it's good. You know when we have chemistry -- you know it as well as anybody. And you understand what I mean. But when I met him today -- we had done three months, almost four months worth of work prior to my meeting. So we sort of understood that was never on the table. With that being understood and, you know, you asking a question like that, I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it cost a lot of money, a lot of money for us. We don't get paid fully for that military which, you know, I will be talking to South Korea about. But we have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to get them home. I would like to. But it is not on the table right now. At the appropriate time, it will be.
|We need protection. Everybody's taking advantage of us. The European Union made $151 billion on us last year. The--if you look at--I told you about China. You look at Japan, you look at South Korea, you look at so many--and we help these countries militarily on top of everything else. I mean, you know, at what point does it stop?
|[Mr. President, why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?] That was my offer. Just so you understand. Military--Okay, you want to hear? Okay? Military--I call them "war games." I hated them from the day I came in. I said, why aren't we being reimbursed? [That's North Korea's term. "War games."] That's my term. [They use it too.] They might use it. We pay for it. We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes, and all of this. It's my term. I said, I'd like to halt it because it's bad to be negotiating and doing it. It costs us a lot of money. I saved lot of money. That's a good thing for us. Okay, go ahead.
|Press gaggle, The White House
|Chuck Todd actually stood up and said, "The President got so little and North Korea got so much." And I'm saying, "What did they get other than I met?" I did meet. Now, the war games, I call them war games, I've been against them for a year and a half. They cost a fortune. We fly bombers all the way from Guam, massive bombers, drop bombs and then they go back to Guam. Then they come back a second time. It's crazy. We spend tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars on these war games. We're not being reimbursed by South Korea. We're not being reimbursed. And I've been after this a long time. I say number one, it is very provocative but number two, who wants to spend this kind of money.
|Trinity Broadcasting Network with Mike Huckabee
|What did I do, really, when you think about it? I went there. So the papers say he went. Oh. Meaning I went to Singapore. So we had a meeting. We didn't do anything. Now, we're saving a lot of money by not doing--I asked--I said let's not do the--I call them the war games, OK? They're dropping bombs all over the place every six months. It's unbelievably expensive to do that. The planes fly in from Guam, these massive, you know, bombers. And all of our--they're flying in from bomb, going back--from Guam. It's crazy. So--we gave nothing.
|Now, giving would be if I took the sanctions off. I didn't want to do--if you ask General Mattis for a year-and-a-half, I said why don't we stop these ridiculous, in my opinion, the military, I call them the military games. If I told you how much those games cost, and frankly, I told South Korea, you should be paying for these games. We pay for them. They say, well, we fly the planes in from a short distance away. I said, where is that? Guam. Oh, huh. How long a trip is that? Seven hours. Oh, great. We're flying these massive bombers. I've wanted to stop this for a long time. I consider that an asset. But we have done--we're saving--by the way, just for the taxpayer--we're saving a fortune. And if we need them, we can start them up immediately. If I think we need them, I'll start them before the generals will start them. The fact is, this reporter said that. I said, what have we done? I haven't given anything.
|Press conference, U.N.
|But when you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidizing that military? They'll pay us. The problem is nobody ever asked. Nobody ever asked. They don't ask. I mean, with South Korea we're paying about 60% of their military costs. They'd buy a missile system--oh, by the way, we're doing great with North Korea.
|Political rally in Wheeling, West Virginia
|Do you know how wealthy our country would be if they didn't have these really stupid deals all over the place, so many of them? And how about our military deals, where we protect rich nations and we don't get reimbursed? How about that stuff? That's changing, too, folks. We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich? And I love the king, King Salman. But I said, "King, we're protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military. You have to pay." And Japan is going to also contribute. Japan--we protect Japan. They pay us a small percentage. We protect South Korea. They pay us--and by the way, we're doing great on North Korea, but South Korea. They got to reimburse us. They've got to reimburse us.
|Political rally in Southaven, Mississippi
|And what we do is we protect wealthy countries for nothing. For nothing. Would you say Saudi Arabia is wealthy? Yeah. Right? And I said to the king, you've got to pay. I'm sorry. You've got to pay. We're going to protect, you've got to pay. Get the money. You've got to pay. You've got to pay! I have friends in the audience, they're good businessmen. They're looking like, absolutely. They--but you're not a politician. A politician doesn't--you got to pay. Japan is an immensely wealthy country…And there are many countries like that. I'm not looking at just those two. There are many, many countries like that. And you know what? We should protect people that can't protect themselves and they're getting slaughtered. It's OK. It's OK. That's OK. And we're now building by far the strongest military that we've ever had.
|Political rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa
|And, frankly, with horrible military deals, where we protect wealthy countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia and South Korea and they don't pay us, it's ridiculous. I mean, we're protecting the world and they don't pay us.
|South Korea, the same thing. Wonderful people, President Moon. We buy missile systems. How much is that system? Sir, that system is $1 billion. Good. General told me that. I said, General, who's paying for it? Sir, I don't know. [Laughter.] I said, find out who's paying. I think I knew the answer. Comes back the next day, sir, the system is--think of it, not a million, a billion--the system is $1 billion, and, sir, the United States of America's paying for it. I said, why are we paying? Let me ask you this question. You have missiles being shot from North Korea to shut--it's not going to happen, folks, because we have a great relationship now with Kim Jong-un, Chairman Kim. Not going to happen. So this is a year ago. I said, so let me ask you, missiles go from North Korea to South Korea. We have the best people in the world, the best trained--we have a missile system that costs $1 billion. We shoot the missiles down. That's great. South Korea's very wealthy. They make your Samsung, your LG, they make your ships, they make everything--they're making a fortune because of us. We have 32,000 soldiers over there that they don't pay for. Figure that one. So they're making the missiles. I say, so, General, let me ask you a question. Why is it that they don't pay? Because, sir, they are an ally of the United States of America. And I say, General, I like them, too, but they've got to pay. They've got to pay. They've got to pay. Oh, I could tell you a hundred stories like that.
|Political rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin
|Then they get elected, these politicians and they do nothing other than let other countries continue to rip us off. And I don't blame other countries. I don't blame China. I don't blame Japan. I don't blame South Korea who we protect and we still lose a fortune on trade. I don't blame these other countries. I blame our past leadership for allowing these other countries to get away with it. So I'm not like other politicians. I can't even believe I'm calling myself a politician but I guess that's what I am.
|Political rally in Tupelo, Mississippi
|[You're going to keep U.S. troops there, in South Korea?] Yeah, I mean we haven't talked about anything else. Maybe someday. I mean who knows. But you know it's very expensive to keep troops there. You do know that. We have 40,000 troops in South Korea, it's very expensive. But I have no plans, I've never even discussed removing them.
|I--I can only tell you this, we're going to make great deals on trade. We're going to make great deals on military. When we defend another nation that's rich they have to help us out. Do we agree? They have to help us out. And they're doing it. They're doing it. You saw South Korea, they were paying us $500 million a year. I say you got to do more. You got to give more. Anyway. Now they're up to almost $900 million, that was like two phone calls. I said--I said, "Why didn't they do this before?" They said, "Nobody ever asked. Nobody asked." You pick up almost $500 million a year, nobody asked. We're defending rich countries, they've got to help us out, folks. They've got help us out, sorry. And you know what? They're going like us more and maybe more importantly, they're going to respect us.
|Political rally in El Paso, Texas
|We have a long way to go, frankly, as far as I'm concerned--especially where we make the good trade deals and make the good military deals. As an example, as you know, South Korea--we defend them and lose a tremendous amount of money. Billions of dollars a year defending them. They agreed, at my request. And working with Secretary Pompeo and John Bolton, they agreed to pay, yesterday, $500 million more toward their defense. Five hundred million, with a couple of phone calls. I said, "Why didn't you do this before?" They said, "Nobody asked." So--it's got to go up. It's got to go up. Right now, it costs us $5 billion a year to defend. As an example, South Korea--we have a great relationship, and with President Moon. And we're doing great things. And North Korea is coming along. South Korea is just an example. But South Korea is costing us $5 billion a year. And they pay--they were paying about $500 million for $5 billion worth of protection. And we have to do better than that. So they've agreed to pay $500 million more. And over the years, it will start going up, and they will be terrific. And they've been very good. We've had a really strong--we made a new trade deal with South Korea. And the same thing will go with Japan. And the same thing will go with Saudi Arabia and many others.
|The White House
|[Is drawing down U.S. troops a consideration? Is drawing down U.S. troops a consideration in your upcoming summit with North Korean Kim Jong-un? And--] No, it's not. No. That was not a consideration. That's not--that is not one of the things on the table. [What is on the table?] Oh, you really want me to discuss that now? [I do.] Everything is on the table. Everything.
|The White House
|[Do you accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, at least for the time being? And are you thinking about re-imposing the military exercises with South Korea, or will you keep it a freeze-for-freeze?] Well, you know, the military exercises, I gave that up quite a while ago because it costs us $100 million every time we do it. We fly these massive bombers in from Guam. And when I first started, a certain general said, “Oh, yes, sir, we fly them in from Guam. It’s right next door.” Well, right next door is seven hours away. And then they come and they drop millions of dollars of bombs, and then they go back and—But we would spend—I mean, we spent hundreds of millions of dollars on those exercises, and I hated to see it. I thought it was unfair. And, frankly, I was, sort of, of the opinion that South Korea should help us with that. You know, we’re protecting South Korea. I think they should help us with that. So those exercises are very expensive. And I was telling the generals—I said: Look, you know, exercising is fun and it’s nice and they play the war games. And I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because at some levels it is, but at other levels it’s not. But it’s a very, very expensive thing. And you know, we do have to think about that too. But when they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on those exercises and we don’t get reimbursed—we’re spending a tremendous amount of money on many countries, protecting countries that are very rich that can certainly afford to pay us and then some. And those countries—by the way, and those countries know that it’s not right, but nobody has ever asked them before. But I’ve asked them and we’re doing—we’re gaining a lot of money. We’ve picked up over a $100 billion just in NATO over the last two years. A hundred billion dollars more has come in. And we’re doing that with a lot of countries.
|Press conference, Hanoi
|The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed. That was my position long before I became President. Also, reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!
|The military drills, or war games as I call them, were never even discussed in my mtg w/ Kim Jong Un of NK—FAKE NEWS! I made that decision long ago because it costs the U.S. far too much money to have those “games”, especially since we are not reimbursed for the tremendous cost!
|South Korea has agreed to pay substantially more money to the United States in order to defend itself from North Korea. Over the past many decades, the U.S. has been paid very little by South Korea, but last year, at the request of President Trump, South Korea paid $990,000,000. Talks have begun to further increase payments to the United States. South Korea is a very wealthy nation that now feels an obligation to contribute to the military defense provided by the United States of America. The relationship between the two countries is a very good one!
|No, he wasn't. He wasn't happy with the tests -- the war games. The war games on the other side, with the United States. And as you know, I've never liked it either. I've never liked it. I've never been a fan. You know why? I don't like paying for it. We should be reimbursed for it, and I've told that to South Korea.
|Press gaggle at The White House
|In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong Un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over. It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises. It was also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future! A nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!
|Look, we have a lot of very strong allies, and we're doing a lot of allies very big favors by even being over there. We're spending a lot of money to help Japan. We're spending a lot of money to help South Korea, the Philippines. We have -- we spend a lot of money to help a lot of people. And in many cases, in some cases -- but many cases -- these people don’t do so much for us. And -- but we are -- we're helping a lot of people throughout the world that have never appreciated it. We've never had a leader that demanded that they appreciate it. I'm saying you have to appreciate it.
|The White House
|Now, in the meantime, we're working with South Korea because it's burden sharing. And we're spending a tremendous amount of money to protect South Korea, and we think that it's fair that they pay substantially more. Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed. And nobody knows this -- I'll say it now, I think, for the first time -- but they agreed to pay approximately $500 million a year or more for protection. That's $500 million. Now we only had a month or two before the budget ended, so they said, "No, no, no." And, you know, they're very good businesspeople; you see how they do on trade. But they agreed to pay almost $500 million a year more. That got them up to a billion dollars -- close to a billion dollars. That's a lot of money. I did that with a number of phone calls and a meeting. Now, we're negotiating for them to pay more, because the United States is paying a lot of money to protect South Korea and we think it's fair that they pay up and pay more. Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed. And nobody knows this — I’ll say it now, I think, for the first time — but they agreed to pay approximately $500 million a year or more for protection. That’s $500 million. Now we only had a month or two before the budget ended, so they said, “No, no, no.” And, you know, they’re very good businesspeople; you see how they do on trade. But they agreed to pay almost $500 million a year more. That got them up to a billion dollars — close to a billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. I did that with a number of phone calls and a meeting. Now, we’re negotiating for them to pay more, because the United States is paying a lot of money to protect South Korea and we think it’s fair that they pay up and pay more. We have a very good relationship, but we think it’s fair that they pay more. I’m not sure if anybody knows. Did you know about the $500 million that they agreed to pay more?
|The White House
|We are going to help them but these rich countries have to pay for it. South Korea gave us $500 million. They've never gave us -- they gave us $500 million. I said you got to help us along. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea protecting it from North Korea. You've got to pay. And they gave us $500 million. I mean you saw that breaking news because nobody wants to report that stuff. I'm not sure anybody knows it. It might be sort of saying you have some -- I mean, that's good stuff. But they're a wealthy country. They build all your television sets. They took that away from us. They build the ships; they've built a lot of things. I said look, we're protecting you, you got to pay. They paid us $500 million. They're going to pay us a lot more.
|It's like in South Korea. I went to them and said, listen, your deal is no good. We have to make a new deal. South Korea, we're protecting them with all these different things. I said number one, you got to pay us more. They agreed to. They gave us $500 million a year more. They said, but nobody ever asked.
|Political rally in Des Moines
|No, we are negotiating for President Moon and for South Korea to help us monetarily, because we -- as you know, we have 32,000 soldiers there. That varies from 28- to 32,000 in South Korea. And we think that, before I came aboard, they paid very little, if anything. So we're defending a wonderful nation -- a nation that we have great relationships, but we're asking them to pay for a big percentage of what we're doing. It's not fair. So, it's not a question of reduction; it's a question of will they contribute toward the defense of their own nation. We're defending nations that are very wealthy. South Korea is a very wealthy nation. They make our television sets. They make ships. They make everything. And I give them great credit. We've been defending them for many, many decades, as you know. Many, many -- over eight decades. And I've gone to them in the past. Last year, I went to them and now they're paying a billion dollars a year. And I went to them again, I said, "Look, I'll be back because that's just a fraction." And again, the relationship is great, but it's just not a fair relationship.
|The White House
|And we go around and protect other countries, and other countries don't respect us like they should. In some cases, they don't even like us. And those days are over. Those days are over. So things are moving. And I'm not putting Saudi in that thing, but we are doing certain things that will be positive for us and, I think, very positive for them too. Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country, and they've agreed to help defray some of the costs, which nobody else would ever ask for, of course. You probably have to have a good businessperson in charge of a country to be -- you know, I don't want to sound overly anything. I just want to tell you that very wealthy countries we were protecting for nothing -- for nothing, or very little. South Korea has agreed to pay substantial money to us, which we appreciate very much. And we ask countries to help us.
|The White House
|Liz Cheney is only upset because I have been actively getting our great and beautiful Country out of the ridiculous and costly Endless Wars. I am also making our so-called allies pay tens of billions of dollars in delinquent military costs. They must, at least, treat us fairly!!!
Victor Cha is a senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Andy Lim is a research assistant at the CSIS Korea Chair.
Headline image credit: The White House.
- Factbase on Donald Trump’s speeches, tweets, and policy statements. Available at: https://factba.se/trump ↩
- The authors wish to thank Young-Kyung Kim, intern in the Korea Chair, and Hee Young Kim for their invaluable research in support of this project. ↩
- “Trump on the slowing economy, unemployment rate.” Fox News. 5 April 2013. http://video.foxnews.com/v/2280557079001/?playlist_id=930909814001#sp=show-clips ↩