Canceling South Korean Trade Deal Would Be a Mistake

South Korean president Moon Jae-in attends a military ceremony in Quantico, Virginia, June 28
South Korean president Moon Jae-in attends a military ceremony in Quantico, Virginia, June 28 (USMC/Rachel Ghadiali)

Various American media report this weekend that President Donald Trump is thinking of canceling a trade agreement with South Korea.

This may be bluster: an attempt to force the South Koreans to make concessions. It’s the way Trump “negotiates”.

But if he makes good on this threat, it would be another self-inflicted wound for American commerce and a setback for America’s strategy in East Asia. Read more

North Korea in the Next Five Years

The sun sets on Seoul, South Korea, November 19, 2011
The sun sets on Seoul, South Korea, November 19, 2011 (Kristoffer Trolle)

The Korean War, fought from 1950-53, was a result of two earlier wars in the 1940s: the American-Japanese War, which ended with the destruction and occupation of Japan in 1945, and the Chinese Civil War, which ended in a Communist victory (and Nationalist retreat to Taiwan) in 1950.

With the Communists and Americans as the only powers in East Asia following these wars, the Korean Peninsula was split in two, each side taking a piece for itself. Read more

Time Looks Ripe for Japan-NATO Cooperation

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg welcomes the Japanese defense minister, Tomomi Inada, in Brussels, January 5
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg welcomes the Japanese defense minister, Tomomi Inada, in Brussels, January 5 (NATO)

Strategic thinkers have proposed closer cooperation between Japan and NATO for more than a decade. The circumstances are now such that this could become a reality. Read more

Duterte’s Play for a Dictatorship

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines attends a meeting at the Malacañang Palace in Manila, September 12, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines attends a meeting at the Malacañang Palace in Manila, September 12, 2016 (PPD/King Rodriguez)

When you yearn for a caesar, you more often than not get it. Such now is the price being paid by the people of the Philippines, who swept to power a man whose harsh authoritarianism was clear as day. As the southern island of Mindanao slips into chaos, Rodrigo Duterte’s not-so-subtle desire for absolute power has become all too obvious. Read more

Trump Blunders by Withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015 (Joshua M. Hoover)

Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday.

It was one of his first acts as president — and a terrible mistake.

Not only is Trump robbing American companies of business opportunities in the Far East; he disappoints American allies in the region and cedes the initiative to China. Read more

Why Taiwan Could (Still) Start World War III

An F-18 fighter jet prepares for launch on flight deck of the American aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on deployment in the Pacific Ocean, June 27, 2012
An F-18 fighter jet prepares for launch on flight deck of the American aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on deployment in the Pacific Ocean, June 27, 2012 (USN/Ian A. Cotter)

Surely you know already the tripwire: Taiwan is a de facto country but a de jure province of mainland China. The people’s republic wants to bring it back under mainland China’s rule while the people of Taiwan want exactly the opposite.

Moreover, Taiwan’s military security is guaranteed by the United States via the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which stipulates the United States must respond militarily to a communist invasion.

So if the PRC tries to bring Taiwan back into the fold by military force, the United States must retaliate. Conventional battles turn to nuclear battles and then we all die in the irradiated glow of our own monstrous weapons. Read more

In Era of Trump, Australia Looks to China for Leadership on Trade

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia says goodbye to President Barack Obama of the United States after a lunch at the White House in Washington DC, January 19
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia says goodbye to President Barack Obama of the United States after a lunch at the White House in Washington DC, January 19 (White House/Pete Souza)

Australia isn’t waiting for Donald Trump to assume office in January before recalibrating its foreign relations.

The island nation — America’s most reliable ally in the Pacific — has thrown its support behind Chinese trade initiatives now that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) appears dead.

Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, told the Financial Times he would work to conclude new trade pacts with other countries in the region, including China’s proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. Read more