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The Strained U.S.-South Korean Alliance

Moon Jae-in, president of South Korea. (Sagase48 / Shutterstock.com)

Despite public pronouncements of close cooperation between Washington and Seoul, the rift between the U.S. and South Korea is spilling into open view:

If South Korean concerns were being taken seriously by the Trump administration, it is doubtful that a high-profile adviser to President Moon would be saying this publicly on American television. The fact that one of Moon’s top foreign policy advisers feels the need to say this publicly to an American audience strongly suggests that the administration has ignoring what our ally is trying to tell them. It further suggests that the strains in the alliance that were on display during the Olympics are not superficial ones, but reflect significant disagreements over how to handle the standoff with the DPRK.

It is not surprising that the South Korean government would be opposed to a U.S. attack that would result in the devastation of their country, but it is noteworthy that a top representative of an ally thinks it necessary to sound an alarm about the danger of a U.S. attack. Taken together with all of the other signs from the Trump administration in recent months, this doesn’t bode well for the alliance with South Korea or for the prospects for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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