Reassessing the U.S. Rebalance to Northeast Asia

Abstract

After assessing the “pivot” to Asia, the author contends that now is the time to split the rebalance of Asia in two—Northeast and Southeast Asia. Northeast Asia poses the more complicated challenge. The Northern Triangle of China, Russia and North Korea (despite appearances) is drawing together, but the U.S.-Japan-ROK Alliance is at an impasse. Serious differences exist between Japan and South Korea. Without this bilateral relationship working well, the rebalance to Northeast Asia is hampered in dealing with North Korea’s regional diplomatic strategy, the regional strategy of Russia to transpose its notion of a “new Cold War” to the east, and the Chinese strategy of weakening U.S. alliances. U.S. rebalancing success versus determined adversaries has little chance unless Seoul and Beijing are in greater agreement.

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