Escalating U.S. Threats in Asia Pacific and Related Developments

U.S.-Japan-South Korea Camp David Summit

On August 18, the warmongering Atlantic Council, which claims to be "a nonpartisan organization that galvanizes U.S. leadership and engagement in the world, in partnership with allies and partners, to shape solutions to global challenges," was gleeful in its report of the U.S.-Japan-south Korea Summit held at the U.S. president's retreat, Camp David.

"U.S. President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever trilateral summit bringing together the leaders of the United States, Japan, and South Korea at Camp David in Maryland. Biden convened this summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to cement a common security agenda among the three countries to deter China and North Korea. The summit resulted in a joint statement dubbed 'The Spirit of Camp David,' as well as trilateral principles and a joint commitment to consult with one another on security threats," the Atlantic Council reported.

Political commentator Alexander Vorontsov in an article, "Reincarnation of the USA-Japan-South Korea Triangle," describes the outcome as "a qualitatively new and different phenomenon in the international arena, that is fundamentally different from the tripartite structure, about which several internationally-known experts have already written. There are indeed grounds for seeing a real transformation of the organization previously described in terms of a 'coalition structure' into a quasi-full-format military-political security pact." The documents issued at the Summit are extremely broad in scope and content, Vorontsov writes, saying that what is being set up requires a detailed analysis.

Setting out what he considers to be the main points, he notes that the U.S. considers the meeting itself and its results "an obvious and resounding success of U.S. diplomacy." Vorontsov writes: "Washington, with the same hard pressure as in Europe, where it prides itself on how quickly and effectively it mobilized and subordinated its NATO partners to a single allied will, is energetically 'lining up' its allies in East Asia as well." According to him, "in less than one year, the Biden administration managed to convince Japan and South Korea to put aside their perennial differences and focus on common threats formulated in American terms." An example of "perennial differences" is "the fact that both nations are considered America's primary allies in Asia-Pacific, (but) they struggle to even agree on the name of the sea between them."

Vorontsov writes, "One of the fundamentally important characteristics of the new pact was that, if earlier it was considered as a non-primary instrument intended exclusively for the Northeast Asian region with an eye on North Korea, now its main mission has become global and defined in ensuring the strategic tasks of the U.S. allies throughout the Indo-Pacific region." The document "The Spirit of Camp David" states: "Our partnership is built not only for our peoples, but for the entire Indo-Pacific region."

He points out that "Washington continues with indomitable energy to build a new global architecture of military-political alliances which are under its direct control, along the perimeter of the borders of Russia and China, uniting the security infrastructure from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean into a self-contained power infrastructure ... what we see already now 'on the ground.'" Vorontsov writes, "Washington at Camp David managed to tie Tokyo and Seoul closer to its strategic, primarily anti-Chinese agenda, overcoming hesitation, the desire not to quarrel with Beijing, both by Tokyo and, even more so, by Seoul. The White House managed to convince them to align themselves at a higher level with its strategic program."

Vorontsov adds: "Of course, in the summit documents, considerable attention was devoted to condemning the actions of the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)] and plans to neutralize its military capabilities, including the announcement of the creation of a new trilateral working group to intensify cooperation, together with the international community, to combat the cyber threats of the DPRK and block its cyber operations. The three countries have committed themselves to hold major joint military exercises at least once a year, as well as the summits, etc. [...] It is obvious that the latest demand for denuclearization, which is obviously unacceptable for Pyongyang, confirms the fact that the Troika has no plans or intentions to enter into a process of meaningful negotiations with the DPRK."

In summing up, Vorontsov emphasizes that "the main result of the summit, in our opinion, was a 'great leap' in the implementation of the U.S. strategy to create a unified military-political architecture from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In this case, we see the deep transformation of the U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliance and the relentless pursuit of its maximum institutionalization, which deserves to be a topic of independent research. The purpose of these actions is also clear -- to strengthen the military infrastructure in order to intensify the confrontation with the DPRK, China, and Russia."

For their part, "experts from NATO's Atlantic Council" -- fellows of the Scowcroft Center's Indo-Pacific Security Initiative -- note that the new administration in south Korea with a new approach to foreign policy and U.S. relations has "created a historic opportunity and the Biden administration has been right to seize it." At the same time they caution, "Amid the optimism of this achievement, it would be wise to recognize that such moments rarely last."

One expert, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo and an adjunct senior fellow at the Pacific Forum, writes that this "is not the first attempt by the United States, Japan, and South Korea to institutionalize trilateral cooperation" but, he concludes, "this time is different." He said that "the three leaders are attempting to push through in a top-down manner to institutionalize trilateral cooperation with a life cycle that is not dependent on particular administrations."

He says the three countries must now act decisively to "expand their operations beyond missile defence and anti-submarine warfare. Such areas might include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; naval mine warfare; cyber and electronic warfare; outer space; evacuation of one another's citizens; and logistics. Achieving this will require the formulation of trilateral strategies and seamless operational coordination. It will also require the establishment of a trilateral nuclear consultative group, regular drills and trilateral dispatchment of liaison officers, and efforts to ensure technical compatibility and interoperability."

Another of these experts, a former Japanese corporate executive and U.S. Department of State official, is quoted as saying the Summit was "a major effort to establish precedent." He said that "we can see strengthened cooperation and coordination across a truly impressive array of areas of mutual interests, starting with institutionalized annual trilateral meetings by leaders and cabinet members. The countries pledged to work together on promoting maritime security and economic security (including supply chain resilience)" and "combating North Korean cyber threats and sanctions evasion, cooperating on missile defence, and conducting trilateral military exercises."

Anti-war protest in Japan, May 3, 2022

Another "NATO academic" is quoted saying: "Unlike some speculation that the trilateral statement on China and the Indo-Pacific would show only modest change given South Korea's position between the United States and China, the institutionalization and consolidation of trilateral economic security cooperation signal a new level of aligned values and commitments."

Another expert who has served 20 years with the U.S. military says, "It remains to be seen if this cooperation can lead to coordinating the group's unfettered access to high-end semiconductors when it needs them the most: during regional armed conflict.... [D]uring a regional conflict, the United States must maintain unfettered access to especially high-end semiconductors to ensure it is able to meet its security and defence article guarantees to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.... Although high-end semiconductor industry manufacturing giant TSMC and its competitor Samsung have pledged investments in new fabrication facilities abroad, they are likely to maintain the production of high-end chips and those facilities at home. As fabrication plants are specialized, a plant is unable to simply shift from producing low-end chips to high-end chips due to a crisis elsewhere. Thus, the joint statement announcing that the three will work together 'to launch early warning system pilots to expand information sharing and enhance policy coordination on possible disruptions to global supply chains' will be a significant step toward ensuring access to high-end chips during a crisis. But the three states, along with Taiwan, will need to work toward building flexibility in the supply chain."

An expert who is also with the Atlantic Council's China Hub added: "[The] growing tripartite cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, both of which have become increasingly prominent arenas for geopolitical competition between the [People's Republic of China], the United States, and the latter's allies and partners -- Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and more ... will help the United States, its allies, and partners make headway on their strategic goals and advance development and prosperity for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands."

Demonstration in Seoul, Korea on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War, July 23, 2023.

The demand of the Korean people and the peoples of the world is for the U.S. to sign a permanent peace treaty with the DPRK, stop threatening them with nuclear holocaust, stop all aggressive military exercises which threaten the DPRK and the peoples of the entire region, stop its war preparations which consider the Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean and other peoples dispensable and for the U.S. troops, war ships, submarines and war planes to go home. Now is the time for the peoples of the world to unite in action and make themselves the decisive force to realize their striving for peace, freedom and democracy.

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 9 - September 2023

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