President Barack Obama’s appointment of John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense will likely bring a major improvement in U.S.-China relations during the administration’s second term. Both Kerry and Hagel support greater U.S. cooperation with China and favor a diplomatic resolution of conflicts between the two countries.
Topic: Obama administration
North Korea’s recent decision not to retaliate for South Korean military exercises creates a new opening for U.S. diplomacy to obtain a core objective of American policy: ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Although a solution to the basic political and security issues in Northeast Asia is not likely to be found in the near future, we should be clear about one other thing: U.S. disengagement from talks with North Korea effectively contributes to instability in the region. Strategic patience is no longer viable. Diplomatic initiatives and vision must replace passivity, and soon.
The Lee administration’s current plan to resume “psychological warfare” operations at the DMZ weakens South Korea’s national security, puts thousands of Korean and American lives at risk, and threatens to create a rift in the Korea-U.S. alliance.
Is North Korea dictating U.S. security policy in Northeast Asia? As Pyongyang ratchets up tensions in the region on a near-daily basis, now preparing for a rocket launch, it is a fair question. The Obama administration appears to be merely reacting, allowing events to move from bad to worse. The offensive plays all seem to be coming from North Korea’s side as the failed state misguidedly uses its brinkmanship tactics to gain international attention and maximize its negotiating leverage.
Unless President Obama adopts a new strategy of seeking a comprehensive settlement in Korea, the U.S. is unlikely to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program. Adopting a new diplomatic strategy to end the nuclear threat from North Korea is the core proposal of the Atlantic Council Final Report released today, with detailed recommendations for the Obama administration on policy toward the reclusive communist state.
Americans who care about the US relationship with Asia know that the Bush administration has had a destructive impact on that relationship. We can expect an Obama administration to adopt new policies that strengthen existing US alliances in Asia, while also supporting multilateral approaches that help bring stability and prosperity to the region.