YL Blog #27: Reinforcing the US Extended Deterrence in the ROK and Japan

YLBlog_image1.jpg
here

I attended the US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Strategic Dialogue on September 5-6, 2019 in Maui, Hawaii as a part of Pacific Forum Young Leaders delegation. In this piece, I would like to discuss key lessons of the dialogue session at Maui and lay out next steps for trilateral security cooperation.

Nuclear Policy Discussions among Allies

First of all, participants from the ROK and Japan expressed concerns over the credibility of the US extended deterrence with President Trump’s statements on downplaying the role of alliance. While the working level relationship is robust and alliance coordination mechanism is well in place, there were increasing concerns over the prospect of high-level decision to abort or undermine alliance commitment. As a result, a few participants from the ROK and Japan invoked an example of the US-NATO nuclear sharing to illustrate a way to enhance the US extended deterrence in East Asia.

On the other hand, the US participants expressed subtle opposition against the NATO style nuclear sharing on two grounds. First, the US side urged the ROK and Japanese counterparts to understand better what it takes to have NATO style nuclear sharing, both in operation and burden sharing. The US side questioned whether the ROK and Japan are ready to operationalize and plan nuclear weapons into its respective national security planning, while in mindful of public opinion and potential oppositions. Second, and less explicitly articulated during the discussion, the US participants expressed its concern over escalation control during crisis. The sharing of nuclear weapons, though neither the ROK nor Japan will be able to launch it without consultation with the US in advance, invites uncertainty of controlling escalation from the US side.

Requirements of Coordinated Nuclear Policy

Nevertheless, all three nations agreed in principle that there is a need to enhance allies’ nuclear policy discussions. Such discussion will have to bear in mind the following consequences. First, nuclear policy discussion requires responsibility for all actors, both in operational and financial terms. The US domestic decision making on nuclear sharing notwithstanding, the ROK and Japan should assess the pros and cons of NATO-style nuclear sharing option in terms of its implication on allies’ force structure and costs of such planning. Second, domestic opinion of each nation should be taken into consideration – in particular that of Japan. Co-operating nuclear weapons with the US can invite strong opposition from domestic factions, considering Japanese views on the role of nuclear weapons. Third, broader regional security situation – China and Russia – has to be considered to minimize the potential oppositions from regional actors. While nuclear sharing options may suffice as critical national interest, regional actors may beg to differ and advance its own nuclear posture.

At the same time, North Korea factor should be considered when measuring the pros and cons of nuclear sharing option. In other words, we need to calculate whether the marginal benefit of nuclear sharing option exceeds the negative costs of the DPRK’s enhancement of its nuclear weapons program. It is possible, without full confidence on the US extended deterrence, that the ROK and Japan will develop its own nuclear arsenal or take other measures necessary to compensate for lacking US extended deterrence. Such prevention of nuclear proliferation in the region itself is certainly a benefit. In addition, co-operation of nuclear assets in the region could bolster strong deterrence against adversaries including but not limited to North Korea alone. On the other hand, it has to be noted that the DPRK has expressed critical views on the US-ROK combined military exercises, with or without the US strategic assets such as B-52 bombers. It is certainly the case that the DPRK will respond in its kind on the ROK and Japan’s decision to co-operate the US nuclear weapons in the region.  

Will Coordinated Nuclear Policy Solve Allies’ Concerns? 

Separate, however equally important, issue is that the nuclear sharing option may not address the root cause of allies’ concern on the US extended deterrence. The nuclear sharing option may not address the concern over the credibility of US extended deterrence because such arrangement can be reversed by high-level political decisions, likewise the extended deterrence itself. While such mechanism of co-operating nuclear arsenal in the region offers aesthetic of firm extended deterrence, the fact does not change that the US can change its policy as it withdrew tactical nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula in 1990s. Furthermore, the nuclear sharing option does not allow US allies an option to launch nuclear weapons without explicit US consent. In other words, nuclear weapons may be a paper tiger without full US endorsement.

The credibility of extended nuclear deterrence is a puzzle that can never be solved easily. Nuclear policy discussions certainly will have marginal effect on strengthening the US extended deterrence in the region, both in the ROK and Japan. However, such arrangement comes with financial cost and adversaries’ aggressive responsive measures have to be considered. On top of that, a nuclear sharing mechanism may not address the root cause of concern over the credibility of extended deterrence. Considering aforementioned variables, nuclear policy discussions among allies have merits both in terms of minimizing misunderstandings among allies and increasing the credibility of extended deterrence. While it is uncertain how such policy discussion will conclude, the process of nuclear policy coordination will certainly offer a room to address allies’ concern over the US extended deterrence.

Disclaimer: All opinions in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent any organization.

PacNet #7 – A better regional defense posture for the US and its allies

Pacnet image.jpg
here

The waning of the US’ longstanding military and technological superiority against a nuclear-armed adversary magnifies the importance of the US alliance network, making it more crucial to deterring and defeating regional challengers in a conflict. Potential adversaries, including China and Russia, seek to weaken the US alliance architecture to limit its freedom of operations and access to the region.

Nuclear-armed adversaries’ use of advanced anti-access and area denial (A2AD) capabilities and gray-zone tactics—employing unconventional tools for coercive and disruptive measures to change the status quo but stopping short of provoking outright interstate military warfare—is of particular concern. To overcome those challenges, the US will need as many options as possible, as well as help from its allies to tailor its regional deterrence architecture to check near-peer competitors and rogue states, and show that the US and its allies can act decisively if deterrence fails.

There are, however, issues the US and allies must resolve to maintain and strengthen regional tailored deterrence architecture. The first is a threat perception gap between the US and its allies in Asia. Even when the gap is narrow, there seems to be a difference in how to respond to regional challengers.

The Taiwan Strait is the most dangerous hot spot in Asia, and could set the US and China on a collision course. Southeast Asian countries are on the frontline as they confront China’s actions to make its claims regarding the nine-dash line in the South China Sea fait accompli. Tensions have steadily increased between Japan and China over the Senakau/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea since 2012. Lastly, South Korea is concerned about increasing Chinese military activities in the Yellow Sea, as well as in the East Sea. Regional states are reaching a common understanding that China is using gray-zone tactics to pursue national interests and becoming more assertive as its military capabilities and economic leverage grow.

Nevertheless, there is a perception gap between states experiencing tensions with China and those that have relatively good relations with it. Even among regional states in conflict with China, there is disagreement over whether China is trying to work within the existing international system or will weaponize its economic power and use military force to resolve conflicts and change the status quo.

Another factor precluding a united perception of major security threats is the different relationships countries have with the major regional challenger. While China is not a major energy supplier, as Russia is in Europe, economic interdependence with China complicates national defense strategies. Economic interdependence between China and regional countries is uneven, with the latter relying very much on the former’s huge market. Moreover, Chinese investment in neighboring countries—the Belt and Road Initiative being the most notable example—provides opportunities for economic development and the risk of increasing vulnerability to Chinese influence. The US-built San Francisco system in Asia—marked by a hub-and-spoke network of formal bilateral security alliances and open access to the US market, giving US allies in the region huge security and economic incentives—is not what it used to be. China has become an attractive alternative market and source of development aid, though not as open nor as transparent as the US market and aid.

Maintaining deterrence throughout the full spectrum of a crisis—from gray zone to red zone, where conflicts involve interstate military conflict but lie beneath the nuclear response threshold, and then from the red to black-and-white zone, involving nuclear attacks on the US homeland or an ally—requires the US and its allies to act in unison with a shared understanding of threats and how to manage them. Allied solidarity against a regional challenger throughout a crisis is a key assumption for a Blue theory of victory—a set of approaches that the US and allies should pursue to deter regional adversaries, manage escalation control in crisis and conflict, and safeguard core interests. Differing threat perceptions between the US and its allies—and among its allies—of a nuclear-armed regional challenger will make a Blue victory impossible. US reassurance of its extended deterrence commitment to allies, both conventional and nuclear, will not resolve concerns about entrapment in a military conflict between two great powers.

Reaching consensus on threat perceptions and showing solidarity and resolve in a crisis involves many factors, in the military sphere as well as across political, economic, and social areas. Obtaining critical information in a timely manner and guaranteeing its authenticity through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations is crucial in developing a common threat perception. Better and wider information gathering and sharing coverage will allow the US and allies to better understand the security environment and a crisis. Obtaining and sharing critical information earlier in a conflict, perhaps even before it escalates from gray zone to red zone, will help the US and allies to establish a common understanding of the regional threat faster, enabling earlier warnings and more time to prepare a response.

Such readiness will make it harder for a regional challenger to establish a fait accompli and carry out surprise armed provocations. While the US possesses state-of-the-art ISR capabilities, it should help allies and partners develop more advanced ISR capabilities of their own to deter and, if necessary, prevail over regional challengers before and during a crisis. The US already has a dense information sharing network in the region, including the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, plus partners like South Korea and Japan that possess capable ISR assets and plan to acquire more advanced capabilities. Nevertheless, more should be done to strengthen partner ISR capabilities and information sharing, allowing information from diverse sources to be cross-checked by allies and partners, thus increasing confidence in shared intelligence and narrowing the threat perception gap.

Bolstering conventional military capabilities, especially related to denial strategies, should also be emphasized for future collaboration between the US and allies. The Trump administration seems to look at blunter approaches and renewing focus on its nuclear capabilities for deterrence purposes. But nuclear capabilities are no panacea for escalation control; finding ways to reinforce its conventional superiority together with regional allies and partners would provide better, wider, and more practical options to manage escalation and respond to provocations. Since strategic competition between the US and China is different from that of the US-Soviet fight during the Cold War, allied conventional capabilities in Asia should focus on supporting denial strategies and tactics rather than aiming to obtain superior counterforce capabilities that could result in misperception and miscalculation by the Chinese leadership. These could include an advanced allied counter-missile strategy, maritime-denial strategy, anti-submarine warfare tactics, and enhanced force mobility concepts that would impose higher costs on potential challengers while preserving allied forces. Investing in conventional denial capabilities with greater interoperability will not only improve tailored deterrence architecture in Asia but also buy time for the US and partners to share crucial information and choose appropriate countermeasures helping to contain a crisis.

The US 2018 National Defense Strategy stressed the importance of strengthening its alliance network, which helps the US against regional adversaries by improving understanding of the theater security environment and broadening options and tools. While allies will look to the US to maintain and enhance its tailored extended deterrence architecture and ensure that it has escalation control over potential adversaries, allies and partners will be asked for more burden-sharing and increased levels of interoperability, as the US cannot bear increasing costs alone at a time of economic slowdown and fiscal austerity. To prevail over nuclear-armed adversaries, the US and its allies and partners should use limited resources wisely, investing more in allied ISR and conventional denial capabilities to narrow the threat perception gap among partners and increase the costs regional challengers have to bear for their provocations.

Gibum Kim (gbkim83@kida.re.kr) is an associate research fellow at the Center for Security and Strategy of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. The opinions expressed in this essay are solely his own.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription

YL Blog #26 – Extended Deterrence in the Age of Trump: Hardware, Software, and Malware

YLBlog_image1.jpg
here

2019 US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Strategic Dialogue offered an excellent forum to gauge the current strategic thinking and debates in Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul. The event comprised experts’ remarks apropos the extended deterrence in the Asia-Pacific and trilateral cooperation, as well as a two-move tabletop exercise (TTX) that brought alliance management issues to light.

The “hardware” component of extended deterrence was discussed at length, particularly the post-INF developments and implications for the region. The majority of participants agreed that INF withdrawal, albeit problematic in its execution and style, will positively contribute to countering Russian and Chinese previously unchecked advances. Putting aside the basing question, participants agreed that new missiles would strengthen the deterrence posture.

The second element, the “software,” which relies on assurance and credibility, needed more discussions and deliberations. Assuring allies that the United States will honor its treaty obligations in case of an attack is infinitely more challenging than developing a certain type of military equipment. This is what strategists and policymakers grappled with throughout the Cold War. They succeeded by supporting allies economically and politically, and by signaling unified positions despite serious disagreements that were dealt with behind closed doors. In regards to adversaries, the United States consistently communicated that an attack on an ally will automatically precipitate a devastating American response. This, indeed, is the underlying logic of deterrence: an aggressor-state is dissuaded from launching an attack on an ally, knowing that the United States will retaliate on its behalf which would negate any potential gain from launching an attack in the first place.

Since it is a part of the red theory of victory, it comes as no surprise that China, Russia, and North Korea are working hard to break the U.S. alliance structure. What is frustrating to watch is our commander-in-chief making comments that undermine allies’ confidence and play right into our opponents’ hands. For lack of a better analogy, I treat these comments as “malware.” One tweet might not unravel the alliance structure per se, but allow enough of them to roam in your system, and soon enough one will have to scrap the old and install a new infrastructure altogether.

In the recent past, few instances stand out. First, President Trump continues to downplay the importance of North Korea’s short-range missile launches, even though these missiles threaten Japan’s and ROK’s survival and security. Second, bickering over trade deals and troops cost-sharing underscores Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy and skepticism of alliances writ large. Third, adopting North Korean lexicon and calling defensive military exercises “war games” is not just a diplomatic gaffe, but an insult to men and women in uniform. Put together, these blunders create a dangerous situation and invite aggressors to test our will to defend allies, particularly on the sub-conventional level.

As we are upgrading hardware, Trump unwittingly inserts malware into the trilateral relationship. Particularly unhelpful has been “public-shaming” of South Korea and its contributions for military cost-sharing. Koreans are already overly sensitive when it comes to the U.S. troops and the move to Camp Humphreys. Fueling the anti-American sentiments in the South facilitates North Korean long-held strategic thinking that once the U.S. troops out of the peninsula, South Korea will be ripe for reunification on the DPRK’s terms. Undoubtedly, Kim Jung Un is enjoying the new reality show.

TTX was designed to discern how the U.S., ROK, and Japan would react and respond to Beijing’s and Pyongyang’s coordinated assault on the rules-based international order. Japan and South Korea correctly calculated that the adversaries were seeking to alter the status quo, and that the situation merited a strong response. To demonstrate firm resolve and commitment to the alliance structure, all allied states, in fact, expressed willingness to “escalate to de-escalate.” Moreover, a component of the final move was North Korea’s wielding its nuclear card: a nuclear explosion in the Pacific Ocean as well as a missile launch over Japan. Allies unequivocally conveyed that they will watch the reaction and comments from the White House closely, and that their subsequent steps will be guided by what they observe.

Relatedly, neither Japanese nor South Korean delegates raised issues with Trump’s style of diplomacy, and only a handful of American experts acknowledged Trump’s malign effects on the U.S. standing in the world. One participant alluded that we need to brace ourselves for the partial or complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Korea, given Trump’s intransigence with cost-sharing and his record. The fact that the U.S. credibility was not openly questioned is perhaps a good sign. However, Trump’s foreign policy track record was the elephant in the room. (Remember Paris Accords? JCPOA?).

The extended deterrence framework has played an essential role in ensuring peace in Northeast Asia, but currently it is undergoing major shifts. Allies have a decent understanding of an appropriate response to revisionist states’ attempts to overthrow the status quo. However, Japanese and Korean participants (American as well, for that matter) remain unsure how to deal with self-inflicted wounds. Explicit signaling needs to be a priority; there should be no doubt in Beijing, Moscow, or Pyongyang that regardless of the domain and intensity, the United States and allies will respond and inflict unacceptable damage on the adversary’s forces. More hardware in the region will certainly alleviate some allies’ anxieties. However, returning to basics-updating the software and protecting it from malware-will deliver more bang for the buck.

Disclaimer: All opinions in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent any organization.

 

YL Blog #22: Managing US-China Strategic Competition by Overcoming the Perception Gap

YLBlog_image1.jpg
here

In recent years, the U.S.-China relationship has been undermined by their increasing bilateral economic disputes, the strategic and economic tensions between U.S. and China are escalating, which has caused much concerns across the world. In the United States, many political elites share a narrative of disillusionment with China, which believes that the U.S.’s longstanding policy of “engagement” has failed. Meanwhile in China, interpreting bilateral tensions as containment from the United States is a considerable tendency. From 2017, Trump administration has published National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review, collectively articulated China as a strategic competitor, claims the great power competition is return. Since then, the world has witnessed more confrontational interacts between China and the United States. To many observers, whether the United States and China are in competition is no longer a topic to discuss, and the concern that current competition between the two major powers could escalate into a comprehensive confrontation seems not impossible.

Under such circumstance, it is crucial to develop preventive measures to make sure that U.S.-China relationship will not fall into a comprehensive confrontation. How can both sides cooperate to manage this competition and prevent it from escalating into a more adversarial relationship or conflict? Closing the perception gap between China and the United States could be a fruitful approach.

Establish a meaningful intergovernmental dialogue between China and the United States to address strategic issues should be a priority. Although the United States has long sought such dialogue, Chinese officials are always express it is not the right time (“the conditions are not ripe”), refuse to conduct any official strategic dialogue regardless it is bilateral or multilateral. As many Chinese participants pointed out, the refusal is largely because China processes a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the United States and Russia, and given China’s no-first-use policy and it’s thinking that nuclear weapon is only for prevent nuclear coercion, opaqueness on nuclear policy has special value in China’s deterrence. There also many different perceptions between China and the United States: while China claims it’s already possesses credible and secure second-strike capability, calls for mutual no first use or mutual no targeting commitment between China and the United States, the United States asks for better understanding on Chinese nuclear thinking and developments, calls for transparency. Consider the lack of mutual trust and understanding between China and the United States, official strategic dialogue could be possible only if compromise made from both sides: Chinese official would need to consider engage to more meaningful, transparent strategic dialogue, while Washington would need to acknowledge that the United States and China are in mutually vulnerable strategic relationship, recognize this premise of strategic stability.

Despite of whether China and the United States could conduct official strategic dialogue, both parties should immediately seek to establish crisis management mechanisms. As a matter of fact, some military to military mechanisms have been established between China and the United States, and achievements have been made: in 2014, China and the United States have signed memorandums of understanding of notice on major military operations as well as codes on unplanned encounters at sea. These documents provide channel for communication during conflicts or crisis, also indicated that despite the tension and dispute, China and the United States could conduct pragmatic cooperation in certain areas. Such mechanisms should be well maintained and fully utilized. But existing mechanisms are far from enough, more such mechanism are needed. Consider China has maritime dispute with many countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and the United States has security commitment with its allies in this region, mechanisms on preventing conflict triggered by third party are in special need.

In recent years, deep distrust and suspicion increasingly plague the bilateral relationship, the worrisome trend of “prepare for the worst scenario” is emerging in both China and the United States. Such distrust has been amplified by information asymmetry, and the two major power is falling into a dangerous action-misinterpret

 -reaction loop. As an outcome of China’s rise, China is increasingly aggressive on preserve its rights, while the United States views any revise of current international system as challenge to its supremacy, and its current policies seems focus on slowing down China’s development and trying to decoupling China from international market. But is this the only way? Find common interest and work together could be an alternative approach. Since China says it’s not interested in pursue supremacy, claims its seek for peaceful development is not a trick, but a matter of strategy, it may need to adopt a more transparent, fair approach to implement its geo-economic initiatives, and the United States may need to resist its instinctual respond, try to shape China’s behavior by cooperate in certain areas such as climate change and global trade reform. Indeed, China’s rise poses challenge to the current U.S led system, but it should be viewed as an opportunity for global governance rather than nightmare.

I’m truly grateful to Pacific Forum for offer me this opportunity to engage this strategic dialogue. From the dialogue, my personal takeaway is both satisfactory and frustrating. The satisfaction is because I noticed participants from both sides are genuinely willing to address the issue on bilateral strategic relationship, the frustration is from a glimpse of how huge the perception gap between China and U.S, and this truly worries me. I do believe that by working together China and the United States could build a just, harmonic, sustainable international system, but the path to it is bound to fitful.

Disclaimer: All opinions in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent any organization.

PacNet #2 – South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine: Three front-line nations we can’t let drift away

Pacnet image.jpg
here

This article originally appeared in The Japan Times and at the Canon Institute for Global Studies and is republished with permission

What do Ukraine, Turkey, and South Korea have in common? Until recently, these three nations have never been strategically related to one another. This year, however, they all seem to have started drifting into chaos after becoming trapped in the new reality of international politics in the 21st century.

Turkey was once an Islamic empire that ruled the Middle East and parts of Europe. South Korea is a Northeast Asian nation with strong Confucian traditions. Ukraine, a former republic of the Soviet Union, is an Orthodox Christian nation of Eastern European. And all three, ironically, have a history of loyalty to past alliances.

Whether in the US-South Korea-Japan security mechanism, NATO, or the Soviet Union, these three were model nations that played a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing those once robust alliances. Now, however, they are departing from where we thought they belong.

To make matters worse, the West, in particular the United States, is responsible for the plight of these drifting frontline nations. To put it more bluntly, we are probably losing at least parts—if not all—of Ukraine, Turkey, and South Korea over the long run.

Ukraine

After the demise of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent nation again. A series of incidents that caused domestic political turmoil, including two revolutions in Kiev, however, gave Russia a golden opportunity. Moscow didn’t hesitate to interfere in Ukraine’s domestic politics and even annexed Crimea, which Russia had given to Ukraine in 1954.

For Russia, Ukraine has been and will continue to be one of its last lines of defense. Before the Orange Revolution took place in late 2004-early 2005, NATO had already expanded rapidly. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary joined the alliance in 1999, and then the three Baltic states, Slovakia, Romania, and even Bulgaria followed in 2004.

Thus, by the mid-2010s Ukraine had become a fragile front-line nation trapped between Russia and NATO. Although Russian troops remain in eastern Ukraine, Moscow will not annex the area because this would only make the western part of Ukraine a NATO territory. What Moscow really wants is an unstable, but still unified, Ukraine.

Kiev, a non-member of NATO, of course needs more military assistance from the US. That’s the nation to whose leader, President Donald Trump, made several phone calls, even sending his personal lawyer to Kiev, to request a bribery investigation related to his potentially most powerful political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The new president of Ukraine was caught in quandary. Washington probably sent the wrong signal to Moscow, once again. Naturally, Ukraine has become more vulnerable to pressure from Russia. In other words, the West may not be able to rescue Kiev from the Russian quagmire, at least not for the foreseeable future.

Turkey

Although not a founding member of NATO, Turkey joined the alliance in 1952 with Greece and has been a dependable member of the alliance founded to deter the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. The tragedy of Turkey is that the European Union has not accepted, and probably will never welcome, Turkey’s full membership.

By the turn of the century, Ankara, having learned that there would be no chance for Turkey to join the EU, must have modified its national strategy. Instead of trying to become European, Turkey, placing more emphasis on its Islamic traditions, must have decided to regain its influence, if not hegemony, in the Middle East.

The civil unrest since 2011 in Damascus and elsewhere gave Turkey a golden opportunity. Ankara started to implement its longtime ambitions, including eliminating Kurdish rebels in southern Turkey and northern Syria. By the time Turkey started to intervene in Syria, however, Russia and Iran were already there.

Thus, Turkey has become another drifting front-line nation for the West. Although it’s a member of NATO, Turkey has purchased the S-400 Russian air defense system. Washington was furious, but alas, it was the US president who allowed Turkey to launch a military intervention in northeastern Syria in exchange for a withdrawal of American troops from the area.

South Korea

Seoul, a faithful US ally in East Asia for decades, is now finding a golden opportunity to become the owner of its history—for the first time in the modern history of the Korean peninsula.

Having been driven crazy by their not-so-friendly neighbors for two millennia, the Koreans deserve their independence and political/cultural identity. South Korean President Moon Jae-in seems to believe in reconciliation with North Korea and China, while maintaining a robust security alliance with the  US—which for us is daydreaming.

Thus, South Korea has become a drifting front-line nation in East Asia.

Then, again, Trump, out of intuition, coincidence or misjudgment, decided in March 2018 to meet in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—the “little rocket man”—who has no intent to denuclearize North Korea.

Now that he is talking directly to the US president, Kim sees no need to talk to the president of South Korea. This might have embarrassed Seoul in the negotiations for the denuclearization and normalization of the Korean peninsula. Once again, Washington managed to make the existing chaos even more chaotic.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently called NATO “brain dead.” He was wrong. The  US president said Macron’s comment is insulting, but it wasn’t. What is brain dead is neither NATO nor the other alliance systems the United States maintains. We all know what is brain dead, but I do not wish to waste time here going into that.

What we must do now is prevent Washington from making further mistakes out of intuition, coincidence or misjudgment. We must also save those three fragile front-line nations because they are too important for the West to lose. Let’s hope that Washington has enough wisdom to keep them on our side.

Kuni Miyake (kunimofa@hotmail.com) is president of the Foreign Policy Institute and research director at Canon Institute for Global Studies.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.