Handbook on the United States in Asia
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Handbook on the United States in Asia

Managing Hegemonic Decline, Retaining Influence in the Trump Era

Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan

The centre of gravity in today’s global economy arguably now resides in Asia. As a result of this, the maintenance of geopolitical and economic security in Asia has become pivotal to global stability. This indispensable Handbook examines the crucial and multifaceted role of the United States as a force in the region that has been, and continues to be, necessary for the continuation of Asian prosperity.
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Chapter 11: America’s alliance with South Korea: the consistency of variability

Andrew O’Neil


Despite major changes in the security environment in Northeast Asia, including North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear-armed power, the US–Republic of Korea (ROK) alliance has been characterised by several consistent themes since its inception. The most prominent of these has been a tension between entrapment and abandonment fears, and a misalignment between close military-operational ties and uneven political strategic relations. While the alliance has experienced a significant ‘thickening’ of its institutional fabric, it nevertheless remains susceptible to strains regarding the inter-Korean focus of governments in Seoul and the aversion among US policymakers to any accommodation of Pyongyang. Looking ahead, these dynamics will continue to shape the US–ROK alliance as it confronts a new, and increasingly unpredictable, era of strategic uncertainty on the Korean peninsula.

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