AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 209

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Session 209: East Asia's Capitalist Peace

Organizer: Timo Kivimaki, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Liberal peace theory has shifted from its emphasis on democracy to accentuating free trade and open markets. Democratic peace theory is challenged by Capitalist peace theory, not least because of East Asia. Its relative peace in the last three decades is seen to fit better with theories based on economic factors than regime form. Since East Asia has many different regime types, it can hardly be democracy that has prevented them from fighting each other. The decrease in the number and intensity of internal conflicts can also hardly be ascribed to democracy. The evidence suggests, however, that the decline in armed conflict is strongly correlated with growth in trade and cross-border investments. Proponents of Capitalist peace theory are pointing to East Asia. Erik Gartzke maintains that market freedom accounts for the pacifying effects that used to be attributed to democracy. Patrick McDonald finds that countries with government-controlled economies tend towards aggressive foreign policies. Thus, open markets promote peace. Nils Petter Gleditsch has suggested to replace the slogan Make love not war! with Make money not war! Still we know from history that economic interdependence does not necessarily lead to peace among nations, and there are many incidences when economic growth has created imbalances conducive to rebellions, coups and civil wars. Hence we propose a panel with four papers discussing and criticizing capitalist peace theory in light of the ASEAN experience, regional economics and politics, and developmentalist policies.

Economic Growth - Regional Organisation - Political Stability?: The ASEAN Experience
Kevin Clements, University of Otago, New Zealand

This paper will consider whether it is economic growth, imitative regionalism, political fatigue or some combination that has generated regional stability within ASEAN over the past twenty years. It will compare and contrast this relative regional stability with fluctuating instability at the national level in Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. In particular it will ask why capitalist peacebuilding seems to have worked at the regional level but not at the national?

Economic or Political Peace in East Asia?: Testing ‘Capitalist’ and ‘Democratic’ Peace Explanations
Benjamin E. Goldsmith, University of Sydney, Australia

This paper provides conceptual discussion and empirical tests of the roles of economic and political factors in the process of inter-state conflict initiation and escalation. The case of the East Asian region is examined. It might seem that economic factors should be considered ‘hard’ constraints on the dynamics of large-scale conflict and peace, while political factors are ‘soft.’ I propose the opposite, and provide initial tests. I argue that we should consider political factors as causally primary, and economic factors as contingent on them. I treat East Asia as a difficult setting for my hypothesis, given the emphasis on development rather than democracy in the region. The statistical analyses will be designed to challenge some recent research on the apparent primacy of economic factors in international conflict. Specifically, I examine the factors highlighted in the commercial-institutional peace and capitalist peace literatures. Their relative role and interactions are considered along with several indicators associated with the democratic peace approach. In order to model the process of conflict initiation and escalation, Heckman-type selection models are used.

Developmentalism Not Development: Why Developmentalist Priorities Explain East Asian Peace Better Than Development Itself
Timo Kivimaki, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The question of whether peace is caused by objective capitalist structures and objective interests of citizens of interdependent countries, or by an intervening social construction – say common identity of capitalist countries or shared discourses emphasizing values that wars would threaten – is important both in order to explain capitalist peace and for discussing how to maintain and build peace. This is the main consideration of the paper, which will argue that East Asia’s relative peace offers outstanding evidence for the claim that the capitalist peace is based on a developmentalist discourse rather than on objective incentive structures. The ASEAN peace from 1967, which was the forerunner for the post-1979 East Asian peace, started in a situation of capitalist decline and reduced economic interdependence. Its preceding belligerent period was a time with a high level of objective capitalist interaction. Furthermore, some of the pre-ASEAN conflict dyads represent extreme levels of capitalist interaction. Findings by Dr. Jong Kun Choi (Yonsei University, Korea) also seem to indicate that conflict avoidance in Northeast Asia is more strongly correlated with policies seeking to generate growth than with the absolute level of economic dependency on other countries. All of this seems to suggest that East Asia’s capitalist peace is a product of commitment to development and a quest for access to foreign markets rather than to development, trade and international investments in themselves.

Economic Growth and Integration in East Asia as Peace-Building Factors
Borje Ljunggren, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Sweden

The paper will critically examine a number of theories and popular ideas, as promoted in scholarly and other non-fiction literature concerning the role of economic growth and regional integration in generating more peaceful relations both between states and within states in East Asia. This will be done within a framework of comparison with the European experience. Differences between Southeast and Northeast Asia will be highlighted, and special emphasis will be put on China's role. In this context the paper will examine the impact of China's "peaceful rise" principle, its emphasis on "harmony," and other prominent Chinese ideas about internal and external stability.