Tuesday, December 18, 2007

South Korean elections tomorrow

How will the election of Lee Myung-bak as president of South Korea affect ties with the United States? (Assuming, a separate question altogether, that a special prosecutor does not end up bringing an indictment that would prevent him from being inaugurated.)

A conservative, yes. But one with a focus on the economy--on boosting economic growth and the standard of living. To the extent that the U.S. economy is slowing down, and China's is booming, this means we should expect continued evolution of Seoul's ties to Washington--continuing to see the United States as an important provider of security--especially in keeping vital shipping lanes open--but more inclined to accommodate China's continued rise in the region. I wouldn't expect a President Lee to embrace openly the notion of some sort of alliance of Asian democracies--given Korea's perception of Japan as a rival--to balance Beijing.

Not after Foreign Minister Aso conspicuously left South Korea out of his Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.
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