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North Korean soldiers look at the South side of the border between North and South Korea on October 27, 2017. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

Weeks before his planned summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump reportedly pushed the Pentagon to consider reducing troop numbers in South Korea, reflecting his long-held conviction that the U.S. shouldn't subsidize other countries’ defense needs.

Why it matters: While Trump clarified that a drawdown was for future, not immediate, consideration, these reports could influence Kim's pre-summit calculations: If Trump seems eager at the outset to achieve peace and declare success by promising withdrawal, Kim might feel less pressure to sacrifice his primary leverage — his nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. 

Trump's push follows his call for a withdrawal from Syria, in keeping with his apparent belief that strategic progress should yield peace dividends (namely troop returns and reduced overseas expenditures). But he appears particularly skeptical of the value of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, given both the South's developed economy and the North's continued pursuit of nuclear and long-range weapons despite the permanent presence of some 30,000 U.S. troops.

Aside from summit considerations, any troop drawdown would also incur a long-term strategic cost, hardening impressions that the U.S. is ceding its traditional leadership role. If confidence in U.S. power recedes, many Asian countries will confront a choice between deferring more to Beijing or developing military capabilities — including nuclear weapons — to protect against Chinese coercion. If Japan begins to doubt America’s security umbrella and goes nuclear, others will likely follow.

The big picture: For the past 70 years, America's presence in Asia has provided a check against countries tempted to use force to move borders, seize resources or redress historical grievances. U.S. abdication of its leadership role in a region riven by deep-rooted animosities could elevate the risk of catastrophic conflict.   

Ryan Hass is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

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Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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