Abe, who is moving into his seventh year as prime minister, could do without the help. Although Abe is clearly a nationalist, his strategy in the Far East has been the opposite of Trump’s. Under Abe, opinion of Japan has improved in many Asian Rim countries. His vision is a multilateral trading coalition that supports the rule of law, free markets and freedom of navigation. Although his goal is to counter Chinese expansion, he wants to do it with cooperation, not confrontation.
Trump’s America First has been a disaster for America’s soft power (see blog: “America First” is Toxic to Soft Power), and like the U.S.’s European allies, especially difficult for Japan and Korea. Trump ended TPP, casually threatens unilaterally removing U.S. troops, wants full compensation plus a 50 percent bonus for bases, imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, and is threatening tariffs on cars. That Abe has been able to maintain a strong relationship with Trump shows his diplomatic skills.
In fact, Trumpism, as conceived by Bannon, has undermined America’s ability to offer any alternatives to China’s model or influence.
|Steve Bannon | Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images|