Thursday, August 17, 2023


President Biden is hosting the leaders of Japan and South Korea in Camp David. The location is bucolic enough and is traditionally the chosen setting for difficult gatherings.

The leaders might realize very well that coming together is in their interest. Their Asian constituents might be more reluctant regarding a cozying-up between Tokyo and Seoul. Public opinion on the Asian side remains often moored in unfortunate bleak historical references. While both governments realize that their discreet cooperation and coordination, mutually and with the US, need a more sustainable permanency, their constituents remain largely unconvinced.

President Biden wants to institutionalize another deterrent in  Asia directed at North Korea and China. The hardcore hooliganism of the Kim system and the perverse moves of China need to be matched by enough "might" to guarantee freedom of navigation. Pyongyang's dangerous war games need to be monitored. If the summit arrives at some form of muscled, organized permanent cooperation a trois it would be a welcome development, albeit a fragile one given the political travail both in Tokyo and Seoul.

There was never an Asian version of the de Gaulle Adenauer embrace, which ended a 100 years war once and for all. Asians have a hard time getting over trauma. The still raw resentment of the Chinese versus Japan is the example of the perfect storm that can be unleashed at any given time.

America often acts as a healer, the "good partner", and seems to believe in its own fallacy. This is surprising given its spotty record in the past. Even its more commendable actions are seldom devoid of self-interest.

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