Regional Security in Asia
with Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr.
On August 24, 2021, NBR staff, supporters, and friends gathered for the one-year anniversary of NBR’s monthly President’s Circle dialogue with our special guest, former ambassador to the Republic of Korea and commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr.
NBR President Roy Kamphausen began the event with his overview and analysis of the top issues in Asia for the past month. He first assessed the series of high-level visits from U.S. officials to Southeast Asia, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Vice President Kamala Harris, against the backdrop of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) 54th anniversary. Roy then provided updates on North Korea’s effort to re-establish communications with the Republic of Korea which it severed last year, in part due to an increasingly dire food shortage situation, as well as recent developments in European policy toward China and Japan’s recently released 2021 Defense White Paper. Finally, Roy also discussed the implications of the rushed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the prospects for Chinese engagement with a Taliban-run Afghanistan and the first Quad naval exercise in three decades.
In the second half of the event, Admiral Harris shared his successes and challenges as ambassador to the Republic of Korea, including the renegotiation of the U.S.-ROK Special Measures Agreement and promoting American interests in South Korea amid deepening ROK-China economic ties. In addition, he also discussed the unwavering American commitment to the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, reaffirming his previous statement that the United States would “defend the Senkakus like we would defend Hokkaido.” Admiral Harris’ friendly and transparent demeaner left a positive impression on invited guests and eager to hear more about his experiences in the Indo-Pacific region.
The hour-long event was held virtually, with guests calling in from across the United States and Asia.