March 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Linde Desmaele

Since entering office, US President Donald Trump has been determined to withdraw US troops from South Korea. In May 2018, he reportedly ordered the Pentagon to prepare options to draw down US Forces Korea (USFK). He also pledged to halt US-South Korea war games, and on his watch, the Pentagon replaced existing military drills with smaller, less expensive ones. US foreign policy pundits and lawmakers have expressed concern about these actions, citing them as another example of Trump’s lack of geopolitical insight and a dangerous concession to Pyongyang and Beijing. But albeit for reasons slightly different than those put forward by the White House, there is a case to be made that removing US troops from South Korea could be an important step in reaffirming Washington’s leadership over the region.

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