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Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
December 1, 2016

U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Cha delves into the formation of U.S. alliances with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines after World War II described in his new book Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia. He suggests that while historically the alliance system has been a bulwark for U.S. security interests in Asia, today it faces a new strain from emerging China-centric regional bodies. Where are these alliances headed as the United States and a number of its Asian partners undergo leadership transitions? Listen below to hear about how U.S. partnerships in Asia have been maintained and what the future may hold for the alliance structure.

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