President Trump’s long-standing stance that overseas hosts of US troops are not paying enough for them always seemed like it was about defraying costs of America’s vast overseas presence. Indications are now that Trump believes the US can turn a profit on it.
Instead of just demanding that nations pay more of the cost of the US military’s presence in their country, Trump is now insisting on “cost plus 50.” To be specific, the administration wants 100% of the cost of US troop hosting to be covered by the other nation, and another 50% given to the US on top of that for the privilege of US troops being there.
While South Korea had one of the more generous deals for the US, paying around half of the cost for the large number of troops there, the US pushed for, and got, a substantial increase to 80%. That was presented as a big win for Trump in negotiations, but can he really repeat this with everyone else?
Getting a country from paying 50% to 80% is no small challenge. For many other countries, however, this “cost plus 50” demand isn’t just a percentage increase, it is demanding five or six times the amount they’re presently paying. That’s a huge increase for many nations, and it’s unlikely a lot of them will be either inclined to do so, or in some cases literally able to bear such a cost.
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