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Trilateralism in the Wake of the 2022 Jolt Toward Bipolarity in the Indo-Pacific and World
Published June 26, 2024
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Gil Rozman argues that trilateralism reached unprecedented levels in the first two decades of the 21st century. Russia, Japan, and South Korea each sought different triangular frameworks to position themselves at the pivot of great power relations in Northeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region. However, Rozman contends that by 2024 trilateralism had shifted to reinforce bipolarity amidst great power competition. After describing three types of triangular frameworks, Rozman examines the transformation of trilateralism in the Indo-Pacific region from 2022 to 2024 (particularly in Northeast Asia), analyzes the challenges military security, economic security, and national identity gaps pose to trilateralism, and evaluates the potential impact of leadership on triangular relationships. The shift from what Rozman calls triangular pivots to alliance triangles in international relations is primarily driven by security concerns yet also by economic vulnerability and national identity gaps. For Korea, the US-Japan-ROK alliance triangle, which was solidified at the Camp David Summit, is at the center of triangular solidarity. Given the polarized international and regional environment, Rozman argues it is unlikely that leadership could reverse the current trend of alliance triangle consolidation in the near future.

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