US President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to force allies of the United States to pay more for "protection," and has been doggedly pursuing this goal with Japan, South Korea, NATO countries and others.

Last week, US negotiators led by Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked South Korea to pay 400 percent more than it did in 2019 to host the 28,500 US troops in the country.

The demand for $4bn yearly, compared with the $925m agreed to in February, sparked concerns that Washington sees its foreign relations more as business transactions instead of strategic partnerships.

It may be nothing more than a classic Trump negotiation tactic - start high and gradually end up low. And it plays well to Trump's constituency, allowing him to claim that he is trying to reduce the burden on US taxpayers.

But do these bases serve US interests more than host country interests? Is it time to rethink the post-WWII concentrations of US troops? And do US allies smell a shakedown?

Join Steve Clemons as he hosts a conversation on whether Trump's strategy is making the US military look like a mercenary force.

Admiral William Fallon - Former head of the US Central Command and the US Pacific Command
Laicie Heeley - Chief editor of Inkstick, and host of the Things That Go Boom podcast
Kevin Baron - Executive editor of Defense One

Read the full transcript here

Source: Al Jazeera News