In November, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement of economic and political significance eight years in the making. Why have some heralded RCEP as a landmark agreement?
South Korea appears to be running on all cylinders to build relations with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with President Moon Jae-in and his team busy issuing public statements and arranging high-level meetings with key players in the incoming administration. What can the Biden administration expect from South Korea on critical foreign policy issues?
Even after North Korea's demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office, it appears that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will continue to prioritize improving inter-Korean relations. What are the implications of this strategy?
It's difficult to get reliable information about North Korea's leadership. This is especially true of Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. Nonetheless, Washington should strive to learn as much as possible about someone who could become the leader of a nuclear-armed North Korea.
The end of the Korean War and peace on the peninsula are no more likely to occur as the result of a peace agreement than has North Korean denuclearization occurred as the result of multiple denuclearization agreements. Ultimately, North Korean objectives matter, and real peace does not appear to be part of those objectives.
The great value the United States extracts from its alliances with Japan and South Korea is not the money they provide to offset the costs of hosting U.S. forces; the value is the deep and abiding alliances themselves and the liberal, democratic, rule of law market economies and societies to which they link the United States.
Would Kim Jong Un's death improve U.S., South Korean, and Japanese security? Maybe not. North Korea's advancing nuclear and other military capabilities are driving an expanded set of problems, and while Kim's sudden death might constitute a destabilizing factor for the regime, the available evidence suggests the regime itself is the problem.
Since roughly 2012, South Korea–Japan ties have frayed. Could the United States encourage trilateral medical cooperation during the pandemic, ensure that the Tokyo Olympic Games are held, and in so doing help heal the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo?
The “Quad” countries met with several non-Quad countries to help each other amid the coronavirus pandemic. For all the good that can come of these countries working together, the Quad Plus, if sustained, may eventually jeopardize the Quad's primary mission: to counter China's assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
As Washington and Seoul continue to examine the feasibility and conditions for wartime operational control transition, decisionmakers will likely face political pressure on timing. It may well be to the advantage of both allies that the determination of the transfer be driven by a hard, thorough diagnosis of military capabilities against emerging threats.
North Korea's extreme rhetoric is worrying people in Northeast Asia. Pyongyang is threatening a presumably violent “Christmas gift” to the United States at the same time that Washington's patience with Pyongyang has worn thin.
The rapid deterioration of ties between South Korea and Japan not only undercuts America's Indo-Pacific strategy, it also increases the risks to U.S. allies and partners in the region. Just how consequential is the growing South Korea–Japan tension for U.S. strategy and what is Washington doing to address the issue?