For the past 60 years Europe has benefited from the economic prosperity that the security of the NATO alliance has provided. Due to the stability the alliance has engendered in Europe, internal and external investors alike could be assured that despite tough economic times and adversaries’ concerted attempts to bully its member countries, peace and stability would endure.
Europe has a strong alliance that is based on bedrock guarantees. This notion is exemplified in the NATO article five provision that states an attack on one is an attack on all members of NATO. With the certainty that NATO provided to Europe, prosperity followed and then as a result of the prosperity European nation states were able to export wealth to other parts of the world.
This entire virtuous cycle was backed up by the U.S.’s continuous and patient engagement. The U.S. acting as the political heavyweight behind NATO not only meant that members were safe from external aggression, but that many NATO countries that had been at war almost continually for centuries now found themselves co-operating at the deepest levels of intelligence and defense.
Today, Asia is in need of a similar stability. With North Korea’s direction uncertain, a rising China worrying much of Asia and near-constant territorial disputes about marine and land boundaries, the U.S. and its allies would greatly benefit from such security and co-operation.
Whenever North Korea tests a missile, investors take flight, stock markets around the world drop and the world looks to the U.S. for a solution. This type of uncertainty not only destroys economic confidence but badly disrupts foreign direct investment to and from the region; sometimes, for long periods of time, security and stability are held hostage by a country whose intentions are unclear at best.
What stands in the shadows of the regional insecurity is the rise of China and its many growing pains, such as its unsettled border with India, the historical disputes with Japan and the increasing discomfort of its Southeast Asian neighbors. All this instability not only threatens U.S. national security, but it also undermines any U.S. investment that may flow in or out of the region.