yoon30Kyle MazzaAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_camp david summit Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Deterrence Is Not Enough in Northeast Asia

The new security agreement between the United States, South Korea, and Japan reflects the shifting sands of regional geopolitics, especially heightened concerns about North Korea and China. Achieving its full potential, however, will require an openness to dialogue with both countries and cooperation on domestic challenges.

SEOUL – In August, the leaders of the United States, South Korea, and Japan met at Camp David for their first trilateral summit. The resulting agreement to deepen military and intelligence cooperation has steered Northeast Asian geopolitics into uncharted territory.

In view of the rising threat from North Korea, deteriorating ties with China, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden’s administration has pursued a bold and systematic regional strategy. Multilateral coalitions like this one, the reinvigorated Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the US), and the relatively new AUKUS arrangement (comprising Australia, the United Kingdom, and the US) augment the traditional hub-and-spoke model of security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, with the US at the center of each.

From the US perspective, the strained relationship between South Korea (the Republic of Korea, or ROK) and Japan – America’s most important allies in East Asia – has long been a strategic obstacle. Since he was Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden has been eager to help the two countries – long at odds over historical disputes and territorial issues – mend fences.

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