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PacNet #32A – Unintended consequences of US alliances in Asia

The conventional wisdom on US alliances in Asia, at least in the West, Japan, and Taiwan (but not necessarily in South Korea), is that they are broadly a good thing. Those alliances, we are told, provide stability. They keep China from dominating the region. They hem in North Korea and defend the powerfully symbolic South Korean experiment in liberal democracy and capitalism. They prevent the nuclearization of South Korea and Japan and a spiraling regional arms race. In short, they re-assure. They allow the US to project power into the region. They consolidate liberal democratic values in the Pacific. They help keep trade relationships open and act as a restraint on behavior in an important, but potentially volatile region.