On his first appearance on Fox News last week as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump doubled down on his war on China and Mexico, that “rip us off.” He accused the Republic of Korea (ROK) of “ripping” the United States off, too, by the presence of U.S. troops and that ROK is “ripping” us off on trade.
He now lumps the Republic of Korea in with China and Mexico as “rip-off” artists he will handle when he becomes America’s Chief Negotiator. Does anyone notice any “white men” in Trump’s sights?
Let’s look at the ROK, a.k.a. South Korea, and Mexico.
It was in June 1950 that North Korean communists invaded South Korea and ran through it like lightning because the United States had few soldiers there or in Japan, close enough to fight off the North Koreans.
Doing the best they could, a handful of Americans and South Korean soldiers desperately and heroically held on waiting for help. From San Diego, California, thousands of miles away, came the 1st Marine Division of the U.S. Marine Corps by ship.
Then came an American/United Nations force that drove the North Koreans back across the original invasion line. In the 30 or so months of intense combat, 34,000 Americans and countless Koreans died.
South Korean and American soldiers fought and died side by side. South Koreans died side by side with Mexican-Americans (my Uncle Johnnie included) and Puerto Rican Borinqueneer soldiers of the 65th Infantry that fought with great distinction in Korea.
American soldiers stayed after combat ended and 28,000 of them are still there helping protect South Korea from North Korea. An attack on South Korea is an attack on the United States.
In the intervening years, as payback to America, South Korea joined the United States in Vietnam and fought and died side by side with Americans — again.
Economically, South Korea became a thriving free-enterprise country that developed huge world-class electronics (Samsung) and automobile industries. The United States and South Korea have a bilateral trade agreement and South Korea is looking to join a nascent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the United States and 11 other TPP partners (including Mexico, Chile and Peru).
In 2014 South Korea bought $44 billion from the U.S. and sold $69 billion to the U.S. for a U.S. trade deficit of $25 billion.
Korean companies like Hyundai and KIA have opened in Mexico to work as NAFTA companies and employ many Mexican nationals. Korea business is as close to Mexico as it is to the United States.
South Korea and the United States are close trade and military partners and have been since 34,000 Americans died for Korean freedom six decades ago.
Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know that. Specifically, Trump does not know that.
Mexico is Donald Trump’s top target and has been since his June 16th announcement for president. He labeled Mexicans rapists and criminals. Yes, he says he only means “some” but that is not what he said.
He says that Mexico officially sends us their worst people, implying that the Mexican government actively sends its criminals here as Cuba’s Fidel Castro did in the mid-1970s. Castro emptied prisons and mental hospitals and happily allowed them to make their way to the United States.
On top of his slander and defamation against the Mexican people and Mexican government, Mexico “rips us off” economically in trade and jobs, Trump insists.
American car companies building plants in Mexico will be stopped by him, Trump says. Those jobs must stay in the United States, Trump says. Mexico “rips us off” with a “yuuge” trade deficit, Trump says, using a Trumpism, “yuuge.” Mexico does so because its negotiators are “smarter” than ours, Trump insists.
Mexico bought $240 billion worth in 2014 and sold us $290 billion worth, including cars that are 40% American to begin with.
Cars like Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, KIA and General Motors all have American-made parts because the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) requires it.
Mr. Trump, American car companies have been operating in Mexico since Calvin Coolidge was president.
Is Trump aware that Mexico sent its best and brightest young men to fly combat missions under General Douglas McArthur in the Pacific War? Mexican fighting men died in World War II commanded by American officers.
Back to the original observation. Trump rants about how Mexico and now South Korea “rip us off.” Does he “rant” against Germany, from where his family came and some still live? No. Germany has the second highest trade advantage ($73 billion deficit) with us after China.
Next comes Mexico with a $53 billion advantage, then “white Canada” with a $35 billion advantage. In fact, Italy, France, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark and Sweden – all “white countries” – have trade advantages with the United States. Trump does not rant about those countries.
Question: Why does Trump rant about Mexico, China and South Korea but not Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Sweden?
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.