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‘Slow-motion train wreck,” says former commander Blair about trilateral alliance

‘Slow-motion train wreck,” says former commander Blair about trilateral alliance

Posted November. 29, 2019 07:29,   

Updated November. 29, 2019 15:00


Former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific region Dennis Blair compared the current situation of the shaky trilateral alliance among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, which has been caused by the U.S.’ demands for a significant increase of South Korea’s defense cost share and Japan’s export regulations on South Korea, to a “slow-motion train wreck.”

In his article published by the Hill, a media outlet specialized in the coverage of the U.S. Congress, on Wednesday (local time) under the title “Time for Japanese, Korean and American statesmanship,” the former commander said, “The current leaders of the three countries seem determined to push domestic political agendas to the point of deeply undermining their countries’ shared values and interests.”

Blair also wrote all three countries are responsible for the confusing situation and emphasized on the joint responsibility of the three countries. The former commander served as the director of National Intelligence and is now serving as the chairman of the Board at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, which is the largest public foundation in the U.S. run with Japanese funds.

Blair mentioned South Korea’s case first by saying, “President Moon picks a fight with Japan over a historical issue that his predecessors came close to solving, and stokes a territorial issue over a tiny island of zero strategic importance.” This was criticized by some for being controversial as it minimizes the importance of the historical conflicts between South Korean and Japan from the perspective of security strategy in East Asia, which demonstrates the narrow-minded view of the U.S.

Regarding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the former commander wrote, “(Prime Minister Abe) takes a legalistic and self-justifying approach to historical issues rather than leading their resolution with the humility, generosity and imagination befitting a former colonial occupier.” Blair went on to criticize U.S. President Donald Trump for “cancelling military exercises that underpin Alliance deterrence and undermining the strength of American security guarantees” and for “demanding upwards of 300 percent mark-ups on cash payments for deployments of American forces in both Korea and Japan, deployments that are in America’s own interest.” He also wrote that the three countries are “pursuing mutually destructive policies that can only benefit their enemies.” He added that all three allies are threatened by North Korean brinksmanship in the short-term, Chinese hegemonic aspirations in the long term, and Russia’s authoritarian regime.

Mi-Kyung Jung mickey@donga.com