He's done it again.
After suggesting and doubling down on his idea of walking away from our NATO allies, at a time when our Eastern European allies are worried about Russian incursions, Donald Trump this weekend made a stunningly dangerous suggestion -- that we would walk away from Japan.
During a rally in Iowa, Trump blurted out, "If we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television, OK?... It could be that Japan will have to defend itself against North Korea."
"You always have to be prepared to walk," he added.
First, faced by a true military threat, Japan cannot defend itself alone. While it has growing defense forces, it has been forbidden from having a real military, because its own post-war Constitution forbids it from engaging in full-scale war to resolve disputes. In many ways, our ability to project out force, on its behalf, is a major deterrent to any action or incursion against Japan.
Second, and relatedly, should the U.S. "walk," then Japan knows it will be tougher to fight off any incursions. And guess who would like that scenario? Not just North Korea.
As they say, let's go to the tape. From 2014:
Russia started military exercises in the remote far east of the country, prompting protests from neighboring Japan at a time when its troops are also active in eastern Europe and on the Ukrainian border.... The government in Moscow, angered by Japan's support for sanctions over the unrest in Ukraine, less than two weeks ago canceled talks between the two countries' deputy foreign ministers.
The Kuril Islands, where these military exercises were taking place, have been under dispute since the end of World War II when the USSR seized them. There has never been a signed treaty by all parties that resolves the issue, and neither the US, nor Japan, recognizes Russian sovereignty over them. Nonetheless, Putin installed missiles on the island, just this year, and is exploring possible naval bases there, as well.
Would Vladimir Putin attempt an invasion of Japan? That is pretty unlikely.
However, to merely have the specter of Russia being able to launch incursions would be an important tool in Putin's arsenal, to keep Japan from taking any action against Russia, economically, like the Japanese did after Putin's invasion of the Ukraine.
Having the United States threaten to walk away at a moment's notice, like Trump is tossing out there, helps Putin's threat seem more real. It forces Japan to capitulate to Putin, fearing that the U.S. won't be there for them. In speaking out like he did, Trump is doing Putin's bidding.
This weekend, former CIA Director Michael Morell expanded on his recent New York Times op-ed, in which he declared that Donald Trump was one of Vladimir Putin's "unwitting agents."
Asked whether he really believed that, Morell said:
Yes, I do. And look at it from Putin's perspective, right. He's a trained intelligence officer, worked for the KGB, very talented, manipulated people much smarter than Donald Trump. He played this perfectly, right.
He saw that Donald Trump wanted to be complimented.
He complimented him. That led Donald Trump to then compliment Vladimir Putin and to defend Vladimir Putin's actions in a number of places around the world.
And Donald Trump didn't even understand, right, that Putin was playing him. So, in Putin's mind, I have no doubt that Putin thinks that he's an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation, although Putin would never say that.
Yes, it sure seemed like Donald Trump just picked Japan out of thin air, this weekend, as another nation we defend, but shouldn't.
I guarantee that there was nothing random about it.
Donald Trump was told that Japan is another country causing issues for Putin, which we have to defend, partly at our expense. Donald Trump, purposely and publicly, then sent a warning shot to Japan. Just as Putin wants him to.
It is just like when Donald Trump sent a message to our eastern NATO allies, under threat from Putin, that we won't be there to defend them, either.
Donald Trump wants to attempt another "reboot" after his disastrous week fighting with Gold Star Families.
No one should let him, until he explains why, yet again, he's suggested abandoning an ally while Putin is breathing down their necks.
Is he just an unwitting agent of Putin, or is there more we deserve to know?