Trump Proposed 'Complete Withdrawal of U.S. Troops' in 2018

  • By Lee Min-seok

    May 11, 2022 13:04

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump proposed the "complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea" in 2018, former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper reveals in a new memoir.

    Esper claims Trump was about to announce plans to evacuate all 46,000 military soldiers' family members and non-combatants from South Korea but changed his mind at the last moment.

    In "A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times" released Tuesday, Esper admits that some of Trump’s proposals were "outlandish," including pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea completely and shutting down embassies in Africa.

    He does not give details about Trump's proposal for the "complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea" but elaborates on the plan to evacuate all U.S. military families and non-combatants that Trump was going to implement in January 2018, when Esper was secretary of the Army.

    This was the time when Trump, enraged at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's continued nuclear and missile tests since 2017, sent his famous tweet boasting about the size of his nuclear button. "Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" Trump tweeted.

    Esper then received an urgent phone call informing him of the evacuation plant, he recalls. He comments that this could have indicated that war was "on the horizon, if not imminent" on the Korean Peninsula.

    But he adds that somebody stopped Trump from carrying his plan out and he kept quiet about it on Twitter, his preferred medium of communication until he was banned from the platform for lying and inciting violence. 

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