Asia-Pacific Rebalance and U.S. Commitment to Korea

  • Lieutenant Colonel John L. Dawber

The most recent and highly publicized major defense policy evolution the United States has pursued is the rebalance to the Pacific. Essential to stability and security of the greater Asia-Pacific is ensuring the stability of Northeast Asia, where maintaining a tenuous armistice on the Korean peninsula is vital. U.S. defense policy for the peninsula over the last half century has been remarkably resolute in maintaining this fragile peace. Although this policy has failed to deny North Korea the acquisition of nuclear weapons, it has ensured security and stability in a complex geopolitical environment where military options risk escalation, immense devastation, and de-stabilization of the region. The question is not whether the United States should maintain a forward presence on the peninsula; rather, how better can it maintain this defense posture within the U.S.-ROK alliance. Pre-occupation with events in Southeast Asia must not risk diminishing the strategic priority of the U.S. commitment to Korea.