The U.S.-ROK alliance has been a key component
of America’s bilateral alliance system in Asia for almost 60 years. This
alliance has preserved peace and stability in Northeast Asia and ensured
nuclear restraint among Asian powers. It has weathered extreme domestic
unpopularity in South Korea and pressures to reduce U.S. overseas defense
During the lifetime of the military alliance, South Korea has transformed from a war-battered, backward military dictatorship into a prosperous democracy with the world’s most wired population and one of the world’s largest economies. Most American and Korean strategists agree that the value of the alliance goes far beyond security on the Korean Peninsula. Yet, despite a general consensus about the alliance’s utility versus a nuclear-armed North Korea, an unhealthy feeling of strategic drift has increasingly beleaguered it. The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) recognized that without a broad strategic reassessment, the United States would face tremendous challenges in maintaining support for this vital relationship.
To this end, CNAS undertook a 12-month project to assess new frontiers of the alliance and to shape strategic-level discussion in Washington and Seoul. The project authors travelled to South Korea numerous times and engaged a variety of government officials and academics. Their findings were published in Going Global: The Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance. The report found the alliance to be one of the bedrock partnerships of U.S. and international security for decades to come, and called for sustained attention from both sides to advance the transformation of the alliance into a comprehensive strategic partnership.