[Editorial] Trump’s momentum in primary is signal for Seoul to start preparing for his return

Posted on : 2024-01-25 16:48 KST Modified on : 2024-01-25 16:48 KST
Though months separate us from the US presidential election, now’s the time to start making the necessary preparations for the possible return of Trump to the White House
Former US President Donald Trump appears before a crowd of supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire, after winning the state’s Republican primary on Jan. 23. (AFP/Yonhap)
Former US President Donald Trump appears before a crowd of supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire, after winning the state’s Republican primary on Jan. 23. (AFP/Yonhap)

On Tuesday (local time), former President Donald Trump defeated his rival, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, in the New Hampshire primary, showcasing his dominance in the race to become the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee with a second straight win after the Iowa caucus.
Many assess that the 2024 US presidential election in November will be a rematch between President Joe Biden and Trump. Now is the time to recognize and prepare for the tangible risks that a reelected Trump may bring.
Trump scored an easy win against former ambassador Haley by 11 percentage points in the New Hampshire primary. While Haley, who has been touted as a viable alternative to Trump, has said she will stay in the race, many believe that the competition has been won.
Despite the possibility that the courts may throw a wrench in the Trump campaign as a result of the four criminal indictments the ex-president faces, one of which relates to alleged interference in the 2020 election, many countries around the world have started to ponder over the perils that could accompany a second Trump term. 
While it may be too early to be sure about the results of the November US presidential election, the risks that South Korea faces if Trump returns to the White House are on a different level from those that other countries may shoulder.
With North Korea further increasing its nuclear armaments and missiles and inter-Korea relations spiraling out, the reemergence of Trump, known for his miserly treatment of America’s allies, will steer Korea headfirst into an unparalleled security crisis.
Just this week, North Korea fired several cruise missiles into the West Sea on Wednesday, which experts believe were aerial explosive tests conducted with the intention to maximize the missile’s lethality against targets on the ground. Even though the growing threat posed by North Korea is staring President Yoon Suk-yeol straight in the face, the president has consistently shown us that he believes that relying on South Korea’s alliance with the US, as well as trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan, is the solution to all the country’s security problems. 
If Trump returns to the White House, along with his casual disregard for US allies, all these measures and policies taken by the Yoon administration will be rendered useless.
What Trump symbolizes — US isolationism and dismissal of American allies — will bring a fundamental change to the international political landscape.
When it comes to economic issues, Trump has vowed to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act on his potential first day back in office, a threat that would deal a major blow to South Korean semiconductor and battery companies that made large investments in the US.
Trump has also revealed his stalwart intention to raise tariff barriers on all imported goods by 10 percent, an act that will not only affect China but also all US allies, including South Korea.
Yoon and his administration should change up their current policy line, which is heavily reliant on support from the US on the diplomatic, national security, and economic fronts. They will also have to closely examine various contingencies and be well-prepared with countermeasures.
It’s time they open their eyes and realize that crisis is knocking on Korea’s door. 

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