Straddling as Strategy: The U.S. and Northeast Asian Security
The East Asian financial crisis and its economic and social consequences have prompted concern that extant political and strategic patterns may not be indefinitely sustainable. But the United States and its allies deem the status quo to be preferable to any discernable alternative. In addition, the effort to preserve longer-term options requires the United States to pursue simultaneous courses of action that mesh imperfectly with each other. At present, five policy objectives appear to define U.S. policy: The U.S. seeks to (1) ensure that it retains political-military primacy in relation to regional states or any coalition thereof; (2) retain military capabilities sufficient to deter military actions detrimental to its vital security or that of its regional partners, and assist in the defense of the allies; (3) facilitate prospective transitions in the distribution of power and political alignments, provided they do not entail coercion; (4) facilitate potential internal political transitions while endeavoring to structure incentives for more "arm-length" states to collaborate with the U.S. when feasible; and (5) influence weapons decisions and military modernization policies of regional actors, especially with a view to preventing diffusion of weapons of mass destruction.
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Originally published in: Northeast Asia Towards 2000 : Interdependence and Conflict, pp. 55-76.
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