The CSIS Korea Chair analyzes the U.S.-Korea alliance, one of America’s most successful postwar security institutions, which faces new challenges and opportunities in an era of US-China strategic competition, summit diplomacy with North Korea, trilateral relations with Japan, and revisions in the bilateral security and trade relationship.
The unexplained periodic absences of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past two months are troubling. Presumed health ailments for this obese smoker and drinker could leave his nuclear-armed dictatorship potentially leaderless overnight.
Predata signals suggest a significant perception gap emerging between the U.S. and South Korea. First, South Koreans are more focused on the financial burden of the U.S. military presence than on the positive security benefits it provides. Second, U.S. demands for $5 billion in cost-sharing are generating the highest ever levels of social media and video commentary critical of U.S. forces in Korea.
The 66-year alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is in deep trouble. The U.S.-China trade war, the South Korean government’s quiet leaning toward Beijing and President Trump’s transactional view of alliances have created a unique constellation of forces. The result could be a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula at a time when North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s regional dominance grow unabated.
For Halloween, Kim Jong Un gave Donald Trump a trick, not a treat: North Korea fired two short-range missiles on Thursday toward the Sea of Japan. It was North Korea’s 13th weapons test this year—and the first since the Trump administration’s latest attempt to restart negotiations with North Korea quietly failed a few weeks ago. The first talks between the two sides in eight months broke down after only 8½ hours in Stockholm. The North Korean delegates stalked out, and Pyongyang subsequently said they wouldn’t resume the “sickening” negotiations with the U.S.
A study of publicly available statements made by Donald Trump on the utility of alliances and U.S. troop commitments abroad to test the proposition that the President has a transactional view of alliances as opposed to a deep appreciation of both the security and non-security benefits afforded by these relationships.