TUESDAY UPDATE (2:30PM): It’s been more than five days since President Trump decided to sideswipe American allies South Korea and Japan. Senator Cory Gardner, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself “the leader in the Senate” on North Korea policy, remains silent.
MONDAY UPDATE (3:10PM): Oh, look, the White House just created another problem with a key ally of the United States in Asia. From the The New Republic:
Last week, Trump announced that he would seek a fivefold increase in the nearly $1 billion a year South Korea contributes to maintain 28,500 U.S. troops that have been stationed there since the dawn of the Cold War; two days later, the administration announced it would demand that Japan pay $8 billion—four times its usual contribution—toward the cost of quartering 54,000 American servicemembers on its territory. Two of the most enduring, and sensitive, American alliances of the past half-century have now devolved into haggling over “cost sharing,” New York mob-protection-style.
It was only last May that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was calling for measures to strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States — an alliance Gardner once called “the backbone of security and stability in Asia.” We’d tell you what Gardner had to say about President Trump’s latest demands of another key foreign partner, but the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia still isn’t talking.
MONDAY UPDATE (10:30AM): Not a peep, and even North Korea doesn’t want another useless photo-op.
SUNDAY UPDATE (6:15 pm): The self-proclaimed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea remains silent about Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on South Korea.
Also this weekend, the White House cancelled military exercises with South Korea after complaints from North Korea. Not a peep from Gardner on this development, either.
SATURDAY UPDATE (11:30 am): The sound of silence continues.
UPDATE (3:21 pm): Still no comment from Gardner, but his official Twitter account did find the time to send out a Veterans Day message this afternoon.
UPDATE (2:19 pm): Crickets.
UPDATE (11:56 am): Senator Gardner’s press office is apparently still functioning. Today they issued a press release about Gardner meeting with Energy Secretary nominee Dan Brouillette. Neat!
This is the phrase that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) regularly deploys in discussions about American foreign policy toward North Korea and its efforts to become a nuclear power. As part of his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gardner serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, where he fancies himself to be the Senate’s top dog on matters related to North Korea. In a press release from October 31, Gardner’s office states unequivocally: “Gardner has been the leader in the Senate in deterring North Korea’s heinous regime.”
Gardner is also a staunch defender of President Trump despite the fact that Trump regularly gives the Yuma Republican a North Korean wedgie. Given this background, we should all be anxious to hear what Gardner has to say about the latest news relating to U.S. foreign policy on the Korean Peninsula. As CNN reports:
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper landed in South Korea on Thursday to navigate renewed threats from an “enraged” North Korea and newly heightened strain in the alliance with Seoul that congressional aides, lawmakers and Korea experts say has been caused by President Donald Trump.
Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 400% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula, a congressional aide and an administration official confirmed to CNN.
The price hike has frustrated Pentagon officials and deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers, according to military officials and congressional aides. It has angered and unnerved Seoul, where leaders are questioning US commitment to their alliance and wondering whether Trump will pull US forces if they don’t pay up. [Pols emphasis]
“Nothing says I love you like a shakedown,” said Vipin Narang, an associate professor at MIT who follows the Korean peninsula, summarizing South Korean uncertainty about the US.
Yes, President Trump is indeed pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign…against SOUTH Korea.
What does Gardner think of all this? From the same CNN story:
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Asia, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. [Pols emphasis]
Here’s what Gardner said about North Korea just a few weeks ago after another ballistic missile launch from the rogue regime:
“Such serious provocations deserve global condemnation and a show of determined resolve from the United States and our allies, including upgrading our joint military exercises with our partners in the region and deploying additional US military assets to deter Pyongyang. This launch and continued North Korean aggression underscore the need for the Trump Administration to re-commit to the maximum pressure policy [Pols emphasis] and for Congress to quickly pass my bipartisan legislation to impose additional sanctions against the Kim regime.”
As far as we can tell, Gardner hasn’t responded to CNN or anyone else on President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on our South Korean allies. We know Gardner’s Twitter account is still working; this morning he Tweeted out something about the “Angels in Adoption” program.
This would be a good time for the “leader in the Senate” on North Korea to do some actual leading, no?