AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 301

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Session 301: Institutionalizing Security and the Future of Regional Architecture in Eastern Asia - Sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Center for Global Partnership

Organizer: Alexander Vuving, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, USA

Chair: Rouben Azizian, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, USA

Discussant: David A. Welch, University of Waterloo, Canada

The international security situation in the East Asian region is undergoing profound changes. The rise of China is transforming the geopolitical landscape and raising the prospect of power transition. But the steady growth of economic interdependence among nations may be undermining the importance of traditional power ratios. Meanwhile transnational security problems are increasingly occupying governments’ attention. Also, states’ self-definitions are in flux, further changing their international relationships. Despite, or perhaps because of, these kaleidoscopic changes, many in the region are turning to formal security institutions to cope. This panel features a diverse set of scholars who pair general theoretical frameworks together with region-specific knowledge to try to understand the prospects for some key aspects of the regional architecture in Eastern Asia: ASEAN, the U.S.-Japan alliance, the role of Russia, the regional leadership in an age of China’s rise, and potentially in the future, an institutionalized “shared leadership” model among the major actors involved.

Regional Security Cooperation: What the EU Can Tell Us about ASEAN
Mai'a K. Davis Cross, University of Southern California, USA

The EU is perhaps the greatest successful experiment in regional security cooperation in modern times. In the past ten years alone, the EU has engaged in 24 civilian and military operations abroad, including its first ever naval operation off the coast of Somalia. It has built a strong institutional architecture, based in Brussels, to support its endeavours as efficiently and effectively as possible. Far more often than not, the EU speaks with one voice in the international sphere, and the recent advent of a new EU foreign service will amplify this voice even further. The EU’s process of integration is by no means over, but given its achievements to date, any study of regional security cooperation benefits from a comparison to what has been realized in Europe. This paper will compare the EU to ASEAN in the realm of security cooperation to try to shed light on the latter’s ability to follow the path of the former. The EU may be at a more advanced stage of integration, but it is important to recognize the same potential in other regional institutions, especially as many consciously strive to emulate the “EU style”. In this paper, I will compare diplomatic processes in Europe and Asia and suggest that the creation of a regional security architecture is not just a result of spillover from other policy areas. Rather, fruitful consensus primarily stems from shared professional norms and diplomatic processes of deliberation within key institutions.

Japan in the US-Japan Alliance: Self-Defense versus Defense of the Self
Jacques E. C. Hymans, University of Southern California, USA

In International Relations we often assume that states that acquire more military might are by the same token giving themselves greater international freedom of action. But this may or may not be so, depending on the institutional context within which militarization takes place. This paper argues, contrary to the conventional wisdom, that gradual Japanese remilitarization is not a sign of renewed international assertiveness but rather of increasing acceptance of the country's long-term destiny as a subordinate state within the American military system. Conversely, the occasional (and consistently unsuccessful) bouts of Japanese international assertiveness have generally taken the form of attempts to reduce its defense burden, not to increase it. This paper will show the paradoxical nature of Japanese remilitarization as a function of its increasing acceptance of Japan's long-term subordination, starting with the birth of the Yoshida Doctrine and going up to Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense research and the Futenma issue.

Regional Leadership, China’s Rise, and the Coming Asian Order
Alexander Vuving, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, USA

After the demise of global bipolarity in the late 1980s, a strategic ambiguity loomed large in the East Asian region. The regional order has been in flux. This paper asks what will likely be the defining feature of the Asian geopolitical landscape in the coming decades. It argues that the central question that defines the emerging Asian order is the question of regional leadership, which involves not only hard power but also soft power. Given a steady shift in the regional balance of hard and soft power, most notably caused by the rise of China, the current configuration of “strategic ambiguity” is transitional. However, the next Asian order will unlikely be hegemony or multipolarity. The paper then assesses the prospects of four other scenarios, including U.S.-China bipolarity (a New Cold War), Chinese “soft primacy,” U.S.-China condominium (G-2), and an unprecedented structure of “shared leadership” among the major actors. The paper will outline the conditions of existence for such a shared leadership. It concludes by suggesting some possible avenues for establishing “shared leadership,” which is the least conflict-prone among the above scenarios.

Russia in the Asia-Pacific: Between Diplomatic Rise and Socio-economic Decline
Rouben Azizian, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, USA

The paper examines the evolving role of Russia in the Asia-Pacific and its importance for Russia’s overall national security strategy. Holding steadfast in the West, ensuring a secure southern border and moving toward opportunities in the East have become a pronounced foreign policy aspiration of Russia. The success of the formula depends however on how well the different foreign policy objectives are supported by adequate external diplomacy and successful internal socio-economic development. In the Asia-Pacific, while Russia’s diplomatic activity, especially energy diplomacy, has been gaining more prominence, Russia’s Far East (RFE) continues to lose population and experience economic decline. This raises a number of questions. To what extent is Russia prepared to cooperate with its neighbors in the East? How competitive or complementary is Russia's Far East with the economies of the dynamically developing countries of Asia? The paper will attempt to answer these questions. It will conclude with a discussion of the Vladivostok APEC Summit in 2012 that could either help close the gap between Russia’s regional diplomatic ambition and regional economic integration or make it even wider.