On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump regularly denigrated America’s alliances, calling NATO obsolete and demanding that South Korea and Japan “pay up” or the United States would begin to draw down its troop commitment. Since the election, he has reportedly reaffirmed U.S. commitments to Tokyo and Seoul, but Trump’s Asia advisors have confirmed that he intends to press allies to increase their spending. Burden-sharing debates are as old as the security treaties themselves, but Trump’s alliance positions have created unprecedented angst in Asia. Partners worry that his transactional approach to international politics will transcend mere penny-pinching and lead him to abandon them altogether.
These worries have good theoretical grounding: Realist scholars of international relations have often characterized alliances as marriages of convenience, which form against shared threats and disperse when the foe is vanquished. U.S. alliances were, of course, designed in the early Cold War to contain the Soviet Union and to help rebuild postwar Europe and Asia. Both tasks were long ago accomplished, and yet, America’s treaty commitments have lived on and have been repurposed to contemporary challenges. Could the 2016 election be the beginning of the end for these longstanding pacts? As the incoming Trump administration considers a significant realignment in U.S. foreign policy, including an embrace of Russia and “deal-making” with China, perhaps the 70-year American experiment with security guarantee statecraft will also meet its demise — or so this narrative goes.
Read the full article at War on the Rocks.
More from CNAS
CommentaryA fresh approach to peace in Afghanistan
An effective peace process is possible and desirable in Afghanistan. Success, however, will require a careful, step-by-step course to test bona fides, build confidence, reduce...
By Earl Anthony Wayne & Christopher D. Kolenda
CommentaryTrump was right to abandon the Taliban peace deal. Here’s what a good one would look like.
Two months after President Trump declared U.S.-Taliban peace talks “dead,” diplomacy with the Afghan insurgents is reviving. With the administration already having negotiated ...
By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk
VideoWhat does the US want from China? What is its endgame?
Daniel Kliman appears on a BBC News feature to discuss the state of U.S. policy toward China. Listen to the full conversation and more:...
By Daniel Kliman
Congressional TestimonyHow Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China, and Other Bad Actors
I. Key Observations and Assessments1 Chairman Hawley, Ranking Member Whitehouse, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss a topic of...
By Kara Frederick