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The Political Economy of National Security: Perspectives from the United States, Japan, Korea, and China
Published January 4, 2024
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This introduction provides a broader framework for the first four papers in this issue of Korea Policy by examining five distinct ways or areas wherein trade and investment intersect with national security concerns. First, it looks at the extent to which the United States is politically capable of sustaining economic commitments that support its Indo-Pacific strategy. Second, it explores various issues surrounding the growing use of economic leverage to achieve political objectives – the weaponization of interdependence – and simultaneous efforts to limit such leverage. Then it examines a third somewhat distinct objective springing from the logic of denial that motivated Cold War-era strategic embargoes, although in notably shallower form, asking: how do the United States and its allies limit exports and investments that increase the capabilities of rivals and competitors? A fourth issue is the appropriateness of industrial policy—the extent to which a wider state role is seen as necessary to maintain economic competitiveness in emerging technologies or to anchor national capabilities more broadly. Fifth, it considers international institutional questions related to the frameworks that provide rules underneath strategic competition, asking: Should the United States, its allies—and China for that matter—seek to revive existing multilateral frameworks? Or are altogether new understandings necessary in order to manage the challenges that China poses? The introduction then summarizes the first four papers, locating them within this broader framework and placing them in a larger context.

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