Themes and Goals
The unit draws on a recent collaborative project on Asian security that I conducted with JJ Suh and Peter Katzenstein (colleagues in Cornell’s Government Department). Our research has been published in an edited volume entitled Rethinking East Asian Security (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004). There are three main points that emerge from this research and should be highlighted in the unit:
1. Over the course of the 1990s there was less conflict in the region than many expected — despite flare-ups and scrapes, large-scale military conflict has not taken place.
2. The security dynamic is complex, and the reasons for stability are embedded in a broad set of factors. When change occurs it is almost always due to an intersection of multiple factors.
3. The US role in the region is multi-faceted.
Audience and Uses
Instructor Resourceswww.nautilus.org, a site that is dedicated to the study of arms control and proliferation issues and has a very comprehensive daily overview of the security situation in East Asia (as well as an archive of previous reports). The second is www.taiwansecurity.org, a site maintained by Phillip Yang of National Taiwan University, which is primarily focused on China and Taiwan, but also has a great deal of up to date reportage and analysis of the rest of the region as well.
The articles listed here should work well as preparation for a week-long unit on Asian security. The two key articles to assign are the first Friedberg piece and Alagappa’s chapter as they do an excellent job setting up contrasting outlooks on the region. The second Friedberg article is useful as it is quite short, and also updates the initial set of claims he made about Asia in the early 1990s. The additional readings would be very useful in a seminar, or upper-level lecture, as they contain a fairly extensive, thoughtful consideration of the theoretical issues raised in the Friedberg and Alagappa readings.
***FRIEDBERG, Aaron L. “Ripe for Rivalry: Prospects for Peace in a Multipolar Asia.” International Security 18, no. 3 (Winter, 1993/94): 3-33. Available Online through JSTOR.
**FRIEDBERG, Aaron L. “The struggle for mastery in Asia.” Commentary 110, no. 4 (November, 2000): 17-27. Available Online through Proquest.
The first of these articles is probably the most cited piece on Asian security published during the last decade. In it, Friedberg, a professor at Princeton University, and an official advisor on East Asian security issues to the office of the Vice President, argued that Asia’s future would closely resemble that of Europe’s recent past. More specifically, Friedberg identified a number of factors emphasized within realist studies of international politics that seemed to indicate Asia was “ripe for rivalry.” The 2000 article updates this thesis by acknowledging the lack of outright war in the region since the publication of the International Security article, but maintains that Asia’s future is still quite bleak.***ALAGAPPA, Muthiah. “Introduction: Predictability and Stability Despite Challenges.” In Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features, edited by Muthiah Alagappa.Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003, pp. 1-30.
This introductory piece to Alagappa’s third edited volume on Asian security takes direct issue with Friedberg’s pessimism and realism. In contrast, Alagappa, the director of the East-West Center Washington and one of the most active figures in the field of Asian security studies, argues that there is a great deal more order within the region and a more complex set of causes, than the “ripe for rivalry thesis” can account for. Alagappa makes this argument by pointing to what he sees as multiple indications of peace within the region, and developing an integrative theoretical explanation of such a phenomenon.*IKENBERRY, G. John and Michael MASTANDUNO, “Conclusion: Images of Order in the Asia Pacific and the Role of the United States,” in John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno, eds., International Relations Theory and the Asia Pacific. New York: Columbia University, 2003, pp. 421-439.
The authors of this chapter are noted experts in the field of international relations theory. Their approach to the region is comparable to Alagappa’s, but places a heavier emphasis on the role of the US.* Kang, David C. “Getting Asia Wrong: The Need for New Analytic Frameworks,” International Security 27, 4 (Spring 2003): 57-85. Available online through Project MUSE.
An excellent overview of recent academic and policy-oriented writing on the region. Kang in particular argues against an extension of theoretical lessons drawn from European experiences to the East Asian region.
* Suh, JJ, Peter Katzenstein, and Allen Carlson, Rethinking Security in East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.
A comprehensive study of the region with contributions from top scholars in the field. Constitutes a sustained attempt to develop an eclectic, integrative approach to Asian security and show the benefits of doing so to both area specialists and generalists.
Student Activity: An Independent Taiwan?
See also the China section of Background Information for the Instructor. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing is adamant that the island is a part of China, Taiwan has remained outside the control of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ever since its founding in 1949.
For much of this time Taiwan was governed by the Guomindang (GMD; also Kuomintang/KMT) or Nationalist Party. The GMD governed the Republic of China on the mainland from 1912 until 1949 when they retreated to the island of Taiwan after being defeated by the Communists in the Chinese Civil War. After fleeing to the island, the GMD set up the ROC government in exile, and to this day Taiwan is also known as the Republic of China. While the GMD and CCP remained in staunch opposition to each other through the early 1980s, neither saw Taiwan as an independent entity (their point of contention was over who should rule all of China, not the island territory).
Over the last two decades the situation in Taiwan has changed in a dramatic fashion. The GMD has gone from the single legal political party on the island to one amongst a number of competing parties in an increasingly democratic political system. At the same time, Taiwanese identity has grown into a powerful force on the island with the Democratic Progressive Party or DPP, the party of current President CHEN Shuibian being the main beneficiary of such a shift. This development has resulted in a push to secure Taiwan’s status as an independent state — a move that Beijing adamantly opposes and has promised to use force to prevent.
The US role in all of this is crucial. Washington was the main ally of the GMD in Taiwan through the early 1970s, officially recognizing the GMD’s government on Taiwan as the legitimate government of China. In 1979, the US established formal diplomatic relations with the PRC government on mainland China and in so doing cut all official ties with Taiwan. However, soon after this change in American policy took place, Washington re-affirmed its commitment to defend Taiwan against attack through the passing of the Taiwan Relations Act (http://usinfo.state.gov/eap/Archive_Index/Taiwan_Relations_Act.html) and has shown its support for such a policy with repeated arms sales to the island in the 1980s and 1990s. During most of this period Washington, Taipei, and Beijing have reluctantly accepted the current status quo in Taiwan (de facto Taiwanese separation from the mainland, but no actual, or de jure recognition of this status). So, with a few notable exceptions (like the 1995-1996 crisis set off by then President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the US), a tenuous, but relatively stable, stand off has prevailed across the Taiwan Strait.
This being said, this ambiguous situation has been challenged by the words and actions of Taiwan’s President CHEN Shui-bian. Chen has raised the stakes across the Taiwan Strait to a new high, and a peaceful resolution of the current stalemate there seems quite improbable. As Chen prepared for the March 2004 presidential election, he called a nation wide referendum related to the island’s relations to the mainland on the same day that Taiwanese voters cast their ballots for president. While Chen’s referendum gambit failed at the polls, he was able to win re-election by a narrow margin, and is now governing Taiwan for a second four-year term. Therefore, the question of Taiwanese independence is likely to continue to occupy center stage in cross-Strait relations, and by extension in Sino-US relations.
Divide the class into four groups. Each group will discuss the questions below for about 15-20 minutes and come up with five recommendations that they will then report to the rest of the class. A representative from each group will deliver a report to the class. Reports should be no longer than four minutes. Briefly discuss each report after it is delivered. Leave at least ten minutes at the end of class for a less formally structured discussion of these issues.
Background Information for the Instructor
Background Information for the Instructor: China
a. Over the last two decades, Beijing has quietly become in many ways a status quo power with regard to many issues in the region.
a. The complexity of the US-China relationship is embedded in a series of divergent trends. Economically, the two countries are closely linked and to a certain extent mutually dependent. In military affairs, the two sides are willing to cooperate on many issues, but divided over the Taiwan issue (a source of intense, prolonged tensions between Washington and Beijing). Culturally, China is more open today to the West than ever before since the 1949 establishment of the PRC (but, at the same time China is far from becoming a democratic state in the way that South Korea and Japan have). Also, on both sides, conservative ideologues have seized on the mis-steps of the other side to bolster nationalist arguments about the need to counter growing threats. In other words, some in Washington have overstated the China threat to find support for the development of a national missile defense system, while at the same time some in Beijing have played up the American threat in an attempt to win more support for the rapid modernization of the Chinese military. Such efforts pose the biggest obstacle to sustaining relatively cooperative relations between the two sides.
b. Chinese perceptions of the US are deeply divided:
a. Sino-US relations improved somewhat after 9/11 as Chinese leaders realized that both countries shared an interest in defending sovereign states against violent non-sovereign state actors.
Background Information for the Instructor: Japan
a. Those who support the idea of a militaristic Japan can point to the following:
c. In reality, both contentions don’t stand up under close examination. The more accurate interpretation is that the multilateralism that Japan has traditionally supported has been modest. It comprises both formal and informal bilateral approaches, supplemented by nascent forms of multilateralism. Japan will defend itself, within the umbrella of US security assurances, and with an attempt to build multilateral ties in the region.
d. Analysis that focuses solely on material capabilities tend to equate Japan’s economic rise with an eventual drive by Japan for military dominance in the East Asian region. Such an explanation overlooks the extent to which Japanese interests and identities were re-shaped by World War II and its aftermath. In contrast, simply assuming that Japan is a pacifist state because it has not actively re-armed itself and participates in numerous multilateral forums, overlooks that fact that Japan’s influence in the region is expanding and may, under changed conditions (either a re-distribution of power within the region, or a shift in domestic political coalitions within Japan), use such measures to become a more assertive power in East Asia. To date, Japan has not behaved in this fashion, as its policy has been grounded in a combination of factors that push it in the direction of working to maintain stability within the region.
2. Japan-US Relations: Dealing with being the only Westernized Asian state.
a. Japan is squarely within the US security umbrella (both during the Cold War, and after). The strength of such ties is evident in the enhanced security mechanisms Tokyo and Washington agreed to in the 1990s.
b. Japanese youth have embraced American popular culture. Japan is the most well-established, deeply entrenched, democracy in East Asia (a system that only took root following the post-WWII US occupation of the country.)
c. Despite such close ties with the US, Japan remains steadfastly Japanese (i.e. assimilation into Western culture has only progressed so far). The dilemma for Japan is, as has long been the case, how to be both a part of the West and maintain a unique Japanese identity. This situation creates a great deal of ambiguity in Japanese national identity, its role in the region, and US-Japan relations.
d. As a result of such tensions, Japan has struggled to define its relationship with the West (especially the US).
e. One way to deal with this issue has been for some in Japan to promote a return to Japanese nationalism. This development has complicated trade relations with the US, and more recently spilled over into territorial disputes with Japan’s Asian neighbors over the following islands: with China over the Senkaku (Ch: Diaoyu) Islands, with South Korea over the Takeshima (K: Tokdo) Islands, and with Russia over the Northern Territories (Southern Kuriles).
3. Recent Developments
a. September 11 presented the Japanese government with an opportunity to show resolve and to preempt the criticism of being a do-nothing power. Examples:
c. What is interesting about these developments is how they have been interpreted by others in the region — while the US has pressed for more involvement, Japans’ neighbors have seen each of these trends as evidence of creeping Japanese militarism.
Background Information for the Instructor: The Koreas
a. Questioning the North Korean Threat — North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK) is less dangerous than commonly portrayed.
2. US-South Korean Relations
a. At the end of the 1990s the two Koreas made historic strides to overcome the conflict between them and develop a more cooperative relationship.
c. Since that time recriminations between the two sides have expanded, and a crisis has unfolded on the peninsula as the North has been accused of (and later proclaimed) re-starting a nuclear program in violation of its 1994 agreement to curb such activities.
d. Six Party Talks (involving the US, Japan, China, Russia, and the two Koreas) have been established to resolve the crisis, but despite three rounds of meetings (as of summer 2004), little progress has been made on this front. Moreover, it has revealed deep differences between South Korea and the US on how to deal with the North, with the US pushing for total, verifiable disarmament before talking with North Korea, and South Korea attempting to work more directly with the North prior to such a development.
3. Other Recent Developments
a. The South Korean leadership has supported the US war in Iraq, while the South Korean population has generally opposed the war.
b. There have been rapid changes in South Korean domestic politics — namely the election of President ROH Moo-hyun, followed by a spring 2004 attempt to impeach him. Roh, a former human rights lawyer and pro-democracy advocate, rode to victory in 2002 by campaigning on an anti-corruption platform and by tapping into anti-American sentiment, especially among younger voters, by calling for greater autonomy from the US regarding North Korean policy. However, his popularity began to fall, ultimately resulting in the impeachment attempt, because of domestic political scandals and general disapproval over his running of the economy and foreign relations.
c. In 2004, President Roh pledged to send troops to Iraq despite controversy among supporters and the Korean public. South Korea has a history of deploying troops to support US war efforts. During the Vietnam War, South Korea sent the second largest contingent of troops, totaling more than 300,000 men. Troop deployment to Iraq has become increasingly unpopular, especially after the kidnapping and execution of a South Korean civilian in Iraq in June 2004, just before the troop deployment.