Trump to Allies - Pay to Host U.S. Soldiers

(Bloomberg) --

Donald Trump is demanding reworked trade arrangements with foes and allies alike. But running alongside that economic push is something potentially even more significant.

The U.S. president has frequently made his displeasure known about the cost of basing troops overseas. Those soldiers, plus fleets of ships and planes, have for decades provided a security umbrella across large swathes of the world — for Japan and South Korea in North Asia, the Philippines in Southeast Asia, through to NATO and Europe.

Now that griping about money may turn into something more tangible. As Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs report, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price — plus 50 percent or more for the privilege. That may see some nations asked to cough up five to six times as much as they do now.

If the plan gets traction it could prove to be a paradigm shift for U.S. foreign policy and its relationships around the world. It risks fanning debates in some countries about whether they even want U.S. troops and creating a vacuum that might give the advantage to the likes of China and Russia.

Some observers say it could also hurt the U.S. directly. In Germany, for instance, the U.S. relies on several crucial installations. Jim Townsend, a former deputy assistant defense secretary, said he, for one, hopes “cooler heads prevail.”

Trump to Allies - Pay to Host U.S. Soldiers

Global Headlines

Jail time | Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort won leniency yesterday from a federal judge who sent him to prison for less than four years. But his tribulations aren't over: Next week he’ll be sentenced in a second case that could add 10 years to his term. And Trump's long-time fixer Michael Cohen fired a new shot against his former boss, filing a lawsuit claiming the Trump Organization stiffed him on millions of dollars in legal fees and costs.

Brexit brink | Theresa May faces a critical 72 hours to save her Brexit deal and avoid plunging the U.K. into unprecedented political chaos. The British prime minister today will try to shift the blame for the current impasse onto the European Union, and again call for concessions that will help her win Tuesday's historic vote in the British Parliament. There are signs the bloc is listening, though its latest offer falls far short of what the U.K. has demanded.

  • Click here for more about how a spate of London knife attacks overtook Brexit on the political agenda this week.

Taking sides | Four Democratic presidential aspirants are rallying around freshman Representative Ilhan Omar amid a backlash over her remarks about Israel that sparked an acrimonious debate in the House this week. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand said Omar was being unfairly targeted by those who want to muffle criticism of Israel’s policies. Their support deepens a divide among congressional Democrats that threatens to distract from their party's agenda.

Power base | More women than ever are stepping into politics in Indonesia, as the ground shifts in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. From ex-leader Megawati Soekarnoputri and her daughter Puan Maharani — a senior member of the current government — to the daughters of dictator Suharto and former president Abdurrahman Wahid, they're wielding considerable political clout in the lead-up to the April 17 election.

Up in smoke? | The Pentagon is reviewing Elon Musk’s security clearance following the billionaire SpaceX CEO's marijuana toke on a California podcast, Tony Capaccio reports. Musk, who has a secret-level authorization because SpaceX is certified to launch military spy satellites, has refiled a form that requires contractors to acknowledge any illegal drug use. The development highlights the discrepancies between federal and state pot policies.

Trump to Allies - Pay to Host U.S. Soldiers

What to Watch

  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized those calling for a decoupling of the world’s biggest economies, saying U.S. and Chinese interests remain “inseparable.” Subscribe to Bloomberg's new China-focused newsletter and get all the latest from the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing.
  • The U.S. pharmaceutical industry — under bipartisan fire in Washington for high drug prices — spent more than $206 million last year on lobbying, the most since Congress debated the Affordable Care Act in 2009, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis.
  • Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila resigned after the government’s biggest project, dealing with health and social care reform, collapsed in parliament just weeks before a general election.

And finally... This International Women's Day, Lucy Meakin and Giovanni Salzano take a closer look at how European countries stack up in terms of female economic activity. They found that Italy’s women are lagging the rest of the region, leaving the nation missing out on billions of euros each year. Click here for more on the gender pay gap in the U.K. and here for a list of barrier-breaking American women in finance, investing and economics.

Trump to Allies - Pay to Host U.S. Soldiers

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