The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump. President Trump has dishonorably become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the representatives. The Senate will begin its deliberation of the matter in January next year. Although it is quite unlikely that impeachment will be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate as it requires a two-thirds vote, political tension and confusion in the U.S. will continue for a while.
The impeachment case against President Trump is largely destabilizing U.S. politics. Such turmoil will not only impact the domestic politics in the U.S. but also the entire world. The impeachment case itself was caused by an international scandal in which the president pressured Ukraine to investigate the wrongdoings of his political rivals. As President Trump has been unpredictable with his unusual tactics of not distinguishing between domestic politics and foreign policies, the impeachment is adding even more unpredictability to his future.
President Trump’s impeachment can have a significant impact on the Korean Peninsula, which has become highly unstable as of late due to North Korea’s “year-end deadline” threats. South Korea should prepare itself against the larger shifts of the situation on the Korean Peninsula as President Trump’s future decisions will become harder to predict. The U.S.-North Korea relations can sway from one extreme to the other depending on whether President Trump tries to achieve diplomatic results or attempts to strengthen his support base with aggressive foreign policies. A case in point is the summit between the U.S. and North Korea scheduled on February 28 in Hanoi, which was canceled largely because of a hearing on the scandal between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials. The situation on the Korean Peninsula will go from the worst-possible crisis to a dramatic agreement at the end of 2019 and at the beginning of 2020.
The ripple of the impeachment will also affect South Korea-the U.S. relations, which at the moment have a huge pile of issues to be dealt with. The defense cost sharing negotiations of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) is what exactly appeals to President Trump looking for visible achievements with monetary figures as metrics. More extreme options, such as withdrawing the USFK, may appear out of nowhere. The South Korean government should be on a high alert and respond with preemptive diplomatic efforts to ensure that alliance between South Korea and the U.S. does not become a political means to be used by President Trump in the process of addressing North Korea’s nuclear issues or conducting negotiations between South Korea and the U.S.