April 16th, 2012
09:40 AM ET

Why South Korea doesn't respond

Editor's Note: Robert E. Kelly is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University, South Korea. A longer version of this essay may be found at his website, Asian Security Blog.

By Robert E. Kelly - Special to CNN

Why does North Korea seem to get away with provocations like last week's rocket test? Jennifer Lind argues that North Korea manages to deter counter-strikes through a bizarre mixture of the ‘madman theory’ (what will the loopy, hard-drinking, megalomaniacal Kim family do next?), regional fear of what would follow a North Korean implosion, and traditional nuclear deterrence.

None of that is wrong, but I think she’s missing the big factor – South Korean domestic politics. Lots of countries and other international actors do crazy stuff; the question is whether the target wants to counterstrike and risk escalation. So it is South Korea ultimately (not the U.S. or Japan) that decides whether or not to hit back. And South Korea doesn’t want to strike back for two reasons. One, South Korean population centers are extremely vulnerable to Northern aggression. Two, South Koreans just don’t care that much about North Korea anymore.

FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: North Korea
How China could counter Obama's Asia 'pivot'
Chinese President Hu Jintao gestures the way forward for visiting U.S. President Barack Obama in Beijing in November of 2009.
April 5th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

How China could counter Obama's Asia 'pivot'

Editor's Note: Robert E. Kelly is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University, South Korea. A longer version of this essay may be found at his website, Asian Security Blog.

By Robert E. Kelly - Special to CNN

For all the talk about how the US might ‘pivot’ to Asia, there is little Western discussion of how China might respond to its semi-encirclement. Here are five possibilities:

1. China might pull South Korea into its orbit

China’s regional problem is that no one really trusts it. Its allies are weak – North Korea and Myanmar. The best way to head-off encirclement is to break the ring with some decent allies. Nasty, dependent dictatorships are not enough. South Korea is a central link in any semi-containment ring around China, but one where China has a lot of leverage. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Asia • China • East Asia • Foreign Policy • Military • Strategy • United States
Why the U.S. won’t pivot to Asia anytime soon
A paramilitary policeman guards in front of an emblem of the Communist Party of China at Tiananmen Square on June 28, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)
March 29th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Why the U.S. won’t pivot to Asia anytime soon

Editor’s Note: Robert E. Kelly, Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, is a professor of political science at Pusan National University, South Korea. A longer version of this essay may be found at his website, Asian Security Blog.

By Robert E. Kelly - Special to CNN

A U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia is the foreign policy talk of the moment, but I think Americans are unlikely to embrace it.

True, Asia outweighs other global regions as a U.S. interest. Europe and Latin America are mostly democratic, fairly prosperous and at peace. Africa, sadly, remains a U.S. backwater. The Middle East is overrated. Israel and oil are important but hardly justify the vast U.S. presence. The terrorist threat is ‘overblown.’

By contrast, Asia’s economies are growing fast. Asian savers and banks fund the U.S. deficit. Asia’s addition of two billion people to the global labor pool kept world inflation down for a generation. Asian markets are now major export destinations for American industries. Five hundred million people live in the Middle East but three times that just in India. Half the world’s population lives in South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Asia • Foreign Policy • United States