Donald Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. With the loose cannon Trump, the new era can be best described as “uncertain.” The rough language not often seen in an American leader and his 140 character-Twitter politics is unprecedented. His aberrant actions are empowered by the frustration of some with the normal state of affairs in America, the antagonism against polarization, and anti-immigration sentiments. The rise of Trump is expected to break down the international order in place since World War II. He seems to be in a dilemma, asking himself the question of whether America’s leadership role in the international community benefits America.
Although the Trump era is unpredictable, we can still see the direction that his words and actions are pointing in. His every move is in line with the campaign slogan he has been using: “Make America Great Again.” It appears that Trump will focus on his country’s national interests by strongly pursuing “America First” without being tied down by the principles of previously established international order. A typical example is how he’s attacking China. In his perspective, China is a dangerous nation that steals jobs from the American people, makes huge profits in trade with the U.S., and challenges American supremacy in Asia. In order to regain its past glory, America must first subdue China in economy, diplomacy, and security. To obstruct the rise of China, America is currently in the midst of drastically improving relations with its own archrival Russia.
The anticipated U.S.-China conflict presents a major risk to our country (South Korea). Because we have been trying to maintain good relations with both nations, with our security dependent on the U.S. and our economy on China, it’s highly likely that we will be forced to choose a side. Our immediate task is to figure out how to have the cake and eat it too. We need both nations’ help in solving the North Korean nuclear issue: the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system and China’s cooperation in sanctioning North Korea. We also have to figure out how to evade the currency war and trade friction going on between them.
The U.S.-R.O.K alliance is also facing a new challenge. Trump may request Seoul to raise its ratio of contributions to the United States Forces Korea or suggest a renegotiation on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. One good thing is that while Trump is unyielding in fighting the North Korean nuclear issue, he is still willing to communicate with the nation. In these ways, the Trump administration is seeking to reset everything including the international order and the U.S.-R.O.K relationship.
Where can we look to for a solution? It is worth noting that Trump’s strategies for running his nation focus on reaping practical benefits. He made it clear that he’s willing to sacrifice the “One China” policy if it means China will be made more serviceable to the U.S. Trump is showing the world that he will not be held up by ideologies or principles, but will act only for profit. We need to fight practicality with practicality. It’s time for our country to be wise and adopt a diplomacy based on practicality, analyzing each issue and calculating what will benefit us and what will benefit them; to gain a clear understanding of the profits and losses, and engage in a fair give-and-take diplomacy.