US Security Commitments in Asia’s Changing Strategic Environment: A Look at Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines

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Despite their longevity, the mutual security arrangements between the United States and its Asian partners are now under increased scrutiny on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  These products of the Cold War were created under conditions that have radically changed and by framers who have long passed from the scene.  Today, policymakers in Washington and Asian capitals sometimes find it exasperating to interpret the arrangements, in light of the new challenges that face their countries.  That the obligations of America’s mutual security arrangements have become unclear to its parties should worry not only the countries involved but many other countries in Asia, since the strength of such accords factors into the balance of power calculations of all the region’s countries, including China and Russia.  Miscalculation could lead to unanticipated crisis or war.  Thus, it would be useful to establish a clearer understanding of the evolution of national perspectives and the legal obligations related to the security accords or, at the least, pinpoint where ambiguity exists.  That clarity is what we seek in the cases of America’s mutual defense arrangements with Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines, which constitute America’s frontline relationships in the Asia-Pacific.

Felix ChangFelix K. Chang is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute as well as the co-founder of Avenir Bold, a venture consultancy. He was previously a consultant in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategy and Organization practice; among his clients were the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and other agencies. Earlier, he served as a senior planner and an intelligence officer in the U.S. Department of Defense and a business advisor at Mobil Oil Corporation, where he dealt with strategic planning for upstream and midstream investments throughout Asia and Africa. His publications include articles in American Interest, National Interest, Orbis, and Parameters. His ongoing research concentrates on military, economic, and energy security issues in Asia as well as the financial industry around the world. He received his M.B.A. from Duke University and M.A. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Gilbert RozmanGilbert Rozman, Senior Fellow with FPRI’s Asia Program, is Musgrave Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. He explores national identities in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, to understand how they shape bilateral trust and evolving relations in the region. His books include a series of four: Japanese Strategic Thought toward Asia, Russian Strategic Thought toward Asia, South Korean Strategic Thought toward Asia, and Strategic Thinking about the Korean Nuclear Crisis: Four Parties Caught between North Korea and the United States (co-ed. except the last a monograph, Palgrave, 2006–2008). He wrote Northeast Asia’s Stunted Regionalism: Bilateral Distrust in the Shadow of Globalization (Cambridge University Press, 2004). He is a member of the editorial boards of China Quarterly, Asian Survey, and the Journal of East Asian Studies.

 Jacques deLisleJacques deLisle is Director of FPRI’s Asia Program and the Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for East Asian Studies and Deputy Directory of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania. He regularly publishes commentaries on Asian affairs as Orbis articles, FPRI E-notes, and in other media. His articles have appeared in Sino-American Relations, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, American Society of International Law ProceedingsHarvard Asia Quarterly, Journal of National Security Law and other scholarly journals and edited volumes. He serves regularly as an expert witness on issues of P.R.C., Hong Kong and Taiwan law and government policies. He is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, vice-chair of the Pacific Rim section of the American Society of International Law, and a consultant, lecturer and advisor to foreign-assisted legal reform, development and education programs, primarily in the PRC. He received a J.D. and graduate education in political science at Harvard.

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US Security Commitments in Asia’s Changing Strategic Environment: A Look at Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines