Rival power designs about throwing Uncle Sam out of Asia just got more difficult – or well-nigh impossible. And that crowd sloshing in the snow of ridiculously expensive Alpine resorts will have to eat its weeks-old bubbling about America's vanishing global leadership.
Here is what happened.
On a visit to Tokyo and Seoul last week, the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (a) reaffirmed security guarantees to Japan and South Korea, (b) set the stage for an integrated American, Japanese and South Korean political, economic and military alliance, (c) opened the way for President Trump to knock heads together in Tokyo and Seoul to set aside their divisive historical grievances if they wanted Washington's umbrella and (d) told Pyongyang that our nuke operators knew the return address for a swift and devastating response if they ever saw a wrong move on their X-band radar.
That is a major breakthrough because no previous administration succeeded in binding these three countries in such a strong and integrated alliance. Japan was repeatedly blamed for scuttling these efforts by its allegedly defiant attitude toward Korean grievances.
Japan also wanted to make money in China while leveraging American protection in its territorial disputes with Beijing. As recently as 2014, a quarter of Japan's exports and a third of its foreign direct investments were going to the Middle Kingdom. But Tokyo would run for cover in Washington whenever the Chinese navy and air force would challenge Japan's presence on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.