CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Korean Hopes for U.S. Leadership Under Barack Obama

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Sunday, March 1, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama waves to crowd before giving his inaugural address during the inauguration ceremony in Washington (Jason Reed/Courtesy Routers).

Lee Hong-koo is former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (1994-1995), a trustee to The Asia Foundation and Chairman of Friends of The Asia Foundation/Korea.

History will record November 2008 as the crucial turning point for launching a new global order. No one knows what exactly the form of that order will be, but everyone seems to be in agreement that the existing international order cannot be sustained in light of two stunning developments. First, troubles in the U.S. financial market ignited a global economic crisis of historic magnitude. Second, the election of Barack Obama offered the United States a fresh opportunity to rejuvenate its status as the preeminent global leader in shaping a new international order. These two developments within the United States have given the world cause for both despair and hope. The current economic crisis is so serious that there seems to be no promising way to overcome it in the foreseeable future. Thus it is a cause for despair. Yet, President Obama is enjoying widespread support at home and abroad as a leader —perhaps the only leader—who can and should mobilize a global consensus to transform the international order in both economic and political spheres, and thereby put the world back on the path of global development. Read more »

A Comprehensive Vision for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by Scott A. Snyder Sunday, February 1, 2009
South Korean citizens holding pictures of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak rally in support of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement (FTA) November 10, 2008 (Jo Yong-hak/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S.-ROK security alliance has been one of the key components of U.S. policy in Asia for over five decades, but the alliance has traditionally been premised on the narrow coldwar task of guaranteeing security on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s transformation as a leading economic power and its transition from authoritarianism to democracy has led to the convergence of the two societies, expanding the potential for forms of cooperation that extend well beyond the peninsula. But the U.S.-ROK relationship has traditionally been conceptualized primarily in bilateral terms that focus solely on deterring new conflict on the Korean Peninsula while neglecting the need to establish a basis for cooperation in the service of shared regional and global interests in stability and prosperity. Read more »