Straddling as Strategy: The U.S. and Northeast Asian Security

by Jonathan D. Pollack

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback22 pages Free

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.

Originally published in: Northeast Asia Towards 2000 : Interdependence and Conflict, pp. 55-76.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.