Our enemies see a diminished America as a win for them. Our friends see it as a loss. When we work together with friends and allies, we—and all the free world—win.
Consider Northeast Asia. Cooperation in dealing with the concerns posed by North Korea and China pose major threats there, yet we have valuable allies in South Korea and Japan. Working together, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington help secure peace and prosperity for each other, as well as other nations in Asia and the Pacific.
Yet much more could be done. For too long, divisions sown by history, domestic politics, sovereignty disputes and other disagreements have hamstrung cooperation between Japan and South Korea. America must help bring the two nations closer if we are to forge stronger trilateral relations.
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The U.S. can’t win by taking sides in the finger-pointing that has strained Japanese-Korean relations in the past. But Washington can’t ignore these past troubles either. The friction that hinders full-throated cooperation across the economic, security, and diplomatic space hurts us, undermining the U.S. goal of partnering to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific where trade, energy, peoples and prosperity flow on a peaceful current from the Northeast Asia across the expanse of the Indian Ocean to the doorways of Middle East and Africa. If historic progress is going to be in this endeavor, America cannot be hands-off.