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Diplomacy & Deterrence

Diplomacy & Deterrence

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01/11/2013

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Diplomacy & Deterrence
Q1:‘Military deterrence plays a greater role than diplomacy in maintaining politicalstability.Do you agree? Explain your answer.[13]Military deterrence involves the use of armed forces to deter any potential aggressor.
Singapore has adopted several deterrence strategies. The first is building a citizen armed forceso as to be militarily self-reliant and ready to fight off aggressors within a short time span.Secondly, Singapore has ensured that all civilians have a part to play in protecting their countrythrough Total Defence. Through this defence, any potential enemy who wants to attackSingapore will not only have to fight the SAF, but also take on all Singaporeans. This will makethe enemy realize that attacking Singapore would be a costly attempt which should be avoided.Thirdly, Singapore has built a defence industry which is responsible for building up the fightingcapabilities of the SAF and maintaining weapon systems and equipment in the best condition.This ensures that the SAF remains self-reliant in essential weapons and equipment and theperformance of the SAF is enhanced. Lastly, Singapore engages in military cooperation with thearmed forces of other countries due to shortage of suitable training areas. Military cooperationtakes the form of bilateral and multilateral defence exercises. Through this, the SAF will be ableto improve their combat skills as well as forge strong military ties with the other countries whichwill enhance Singapore’s security.
However, diplomacy involves forging relations with other countries to promote commoninterests and resolve conflicting interests in a peaceful manner.
Singapore practices threetypes of diplomatic relations – bilateral, regional and international. Since its independence in1965, Singapore has established
bilateral relations
with many countries to serve its interests.Some of the benefits of its bilateral relations are new trading opportunities, transfer of technology and skills and the exchange of cultural ties with other countries. Singapore alsoextends a helping hand by providing humanitarian aid to developing countries in the event of crisis such as natural disasters. Secondly, Singapore joined ASEAN, a
regional organization
.As a member of ASEAN, Singapore actively tries to maintain peace and prosperity in SoutheastAsia. For example, it has taken on a leadership role in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) whichallows ASEAN members to discuss important issues with other countries. Singapore alsoshares its technological knowledge and expertise with other ASEAN countries like Vietnam tohelp in their industrialization efforts. Finally, Singapore joined the UN, an
internationalorganization
. It uses its UN membership to voice its opinions on world affairs and regularlysends in police, SAF and civil service officers on UN peacekeeping missions to variouscountries. Hence, by building close personal ties and extending goodwill with other countries,Singapore will be able to seek help from its friends in times of need. Additionally, if other countries benefit from Singapore’s help, then there is less chance of Singapore beingthreatened by them. The establishment of trade partnerships with numerous countries willminimize chances of conflict as both parties will have much to lose. It is in this way thatdiplomacy is able to maintain political stability.
Both diplomacy and deterrence are equally important because one factor cannot makedo without the other.
Both act as twin pillars of Singapore’ defence policy. Although diplomacypromotes greater cooperation and understanding between countries, it does not guarantee thatothers will naturally reciprocate these feelings. Therefore, deterrence strategies must be put inplace, not to threaten others, but rather to safeguard Singapore’s sovereignty in the event of anattack.
 
Diplomacy & Deterrence
Q2:“In Singapore’s defence strategy, deterrence is more important than diplomacy.” Doyou agree? Explain your answer.
Singapore needs to deter potential aggressors because they may assume that as a smallcountry we are weak militarily. Therefore our military strength does not correspond with the sizeof our national boundaries. Our citizens’ army is among the best in the region, they train in allkinds of terrain and airspace e.g. in Taiwan, Australia, etc, and they are equipped with the stateof the art weapons and equipment from our own defence industry as well as those bought fromother countries. The small size of Singapore may seem that we are vulnerable but a potentialaggressor with knowledge of our true military capacity will know that they will be against one of the best if they mess with us. They will think twice when they know that Singapore has thecapacity to respond with all its might and they will suffer high casualities and probably fail intheir battle against Singapore.Deterrence is important if Singapore wants to show that she is serious about protecting her soverignty and national interests. Just as a home owner would deter robbers by investing ingood locks / padlocks, strong window grills, alarm system, etc. because his home is worthprotecting, any country must also be willing to invest in effective forms of deterrence to protectits soverign status and national interests as these are vital to its very existence. This explainswhy the Singapore government allocates a high portion of its budget [a quarter or close to aquarter] on defence spending even in times of economic recessions. Since the country’s veryexistence is at stake, spending on defence cannot be compromised. It also explains why thegovernment goes all out to reinforce the importance of total defence among Singaporeansthrough campaigns, public messages, special programmes in schools, emergency exercisesand so on.Deterrence is an important part of Singapore’s policy of self-reliance. Singapore cannot assumethat another country will come to its aid in times of crisis unless some vital interests areinvolved. Few leaders would be willing to jeopardize their political careers by taking militaryaction in conflicts especially if the outcome is uncertain. Unless their own security interests aredirectly threatened, substantial military involvement by another country is rare beyondpeacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations. Even the world’s current superpower, theUSA, will not and is unable to intervene in every one of the many crises around the world.American interests do not require them to do so, and the international community itself isoverwhelmed with such crises and cannot respond to them as they are costly in terms of humanlives and resources. This means that Singapore needs to ensure that she is prepared to detepossible military aggression herself as dependence on other ‘friendly’ countries for help is tooshortsighted as a defence strategy. This explains why we recruit our own young men to form acitizen’s army and we have our own defence industry.Diplomacy, on the other hand, facilitates communication between the political leaders of Singapore and other countries or organizations. We have diplomats and embassies in other countries and we allow foreign countries to set up their embassies and station their diplomats inSingapore. Our leaders have frequent meetings with the leaders of other countries. All thesefacilitate communication between Singapore and other countries and this ensures that there areproper channels to resolve any conflicts Singapore might have with another country. Withoutthese channels, a small disagreement can be blown out of proportion and can become serious.This explains why although Singapore has conflicts with some of its neighbours such asMalaysia [water agreements, dispute over Pedra Branca, among many other outstandingissues], with the Philippines [over the case of Flor Contemplacion] and with the USA [over theMichael Fay case], these problems did not lead to war or cutting off of ties because of theexistence of good diplomatic relations. These matters were discussed peacefully through

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