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Editorial: State of Union address too inward-looking

U.S. President Donald Trump has delivered the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Dedicating the majority of the speech to domestic political issues, he boasted of the “great American comeback.”


In the annual tradition of the State of the Union address, the American president announces administrative policy for the coming year to Congress. The speech is counted among the most important the president delivers.


However much President Trump has reelection in November on his mind, the speech was too inward-looking. It is unfortunate that his position as world leader was not evident.


The speech was given at a time when Mr. Trump was being grilled by opposition party Democrats over the Ukraine scandal and the verdict on his impeachment trial at the Senate was to be given the following day.


Likely also playing a role is the fact that it is almost certain that a “not-guilty” verdict will be reached in his impeachment trial. President Trump said, “[O]ur country is thriving and highly respected again.” The working class holds the key to the election. With them in mind, he emphasized the booming economy during his time in office, citing an increase in jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate.


To some degree, it is inevitable that the speech took on the color of the election, but there was too little mention of foreign policy and security, which stands alongside domestic politics [in terms of importance]. We are unavoidably frustrated that President Trump has not revised his stance of attaching little importance to America’s allies.


Mr. Trump mentioned Iran and Syria and spoke of ending the war in the Middle East and withdrawing the U.S. military. Why, though, did he make almost no mention of Japan or even the Indo-Pacific, with the exception of China?


In terms of relations with allies, he only mentioned having North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies cover their due share of military expenses. He also did not mention Russia or North Korea, which continues to pursue its nuclear program.


He cited China only in the part of his speech where he stressed the epoch-making agreement reached through trade talks and in the part where he announced that America is working closely with China regarding the new coronavirus. President Trump announced proudly, “We have perhaps the best relationship we’ve ever had with China, including with President Xi.” Is that really true?


China threatens the international order based on the rule of law and is attempting to change the status quo through the use of force. To create a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” something that both Japan and the United States value, it is critical that the U.S. join hands with Japan, Australia, and other allies to deter China. We were hoping he would express the resolve to do so.


President Trump said, “It is not our function to serve other nations as law enforcement agencies.” The wrong signal must not be sent to China and Russia.

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