Comparative Connections v.4 n.1 - Regional Overview
April 1, 2002
President George W. Bush’s visit to Japan, South Korea, and China and the decision to send U.S. troops to the Philippines to support Manila’s efforts to combat terrorism provided long-awaited administration focus on East Asia this quarter. Bush reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance as well as his own faith in Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro’s economic reform efforts. Bush’s Seoul visit helped contain the damage caused by his State of the Union reference to North Korea as a member of the "axis of evil," which raised anxiety levels in the South (and elsewhere). Bush emphasized Washington’s willingness to build a "cooperative, constructive" (albeit "candid") relationship with Beijing. A few protests notwithstanding, the temporary deployment of forces to the Philippines was also generally well received. Concerns remain about U.S. unilateralist or "cowboy" tendencies, which were reinforced by the leaking of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review that allegedly called for contingency planning for the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea, China, and others.