What do the blind-sided see?

Reapproaching regionalism in Southeast Asia The late Michael Leifer’s association with an insecurity-focused realist approach to international affairs and his work on Southeast Asian regionalism inspire thi s question: How have the Asian financial crisis and the ‘war on terror’ affected the plausibility of insecurity-concerned realism compared with other ways of approa ching regionalism in Southeast Asia? Five general approaches (and featured themes) are presented: realism (insecurity ), culturalism (identity), rationalism (interests), liberalism (institutions) an d constructivism (ideas). By and large this sequence runs ontologically from the most to the least foundationalist perspective, and chronologically from the ear liest to the newest fashion in the American study of international relations sin ce the SecondWorldWar. The Asian financial crisis and the ‘war on terror’ have, on balance, vindicated the extremes – realism on the one hand, constructivism on the other – while modestly enh ancing the plausibility of culturalism and challenging the comparative intellect ual advantages of rationalism and liberalism. But this result implies scholarly polarization less than it suggests a diverse repertoire of assumptions and prior ities that are neither hermetically compartmentalized nor mutually exclusive. Plausibility: (+) (−) (−) (+) (+) Approach: constructivism liberalism rationalism culturalism realism Theme: ideas institutions interests identity insecurity Figure 1 How have the Asian financial crisis and the war on terror affected the plausibility of different thematic approaches to regionalism in Southeast Asia? A summary of the argument. from right to left in Figure 1, that is, from realism to constructivism. This s ame right-to-left dimension also roughly corresponds to the precedence of these perspectives in American political science since the Second World War, from real ism as the earliest to constructivism as the latest approach. Full circle Indonesia’s strategic location and ample natural resources really did make it vuln erable to foreign intervention. But these same features combined with the archip elago’s vast size to sustain in the minds of Indonesian leaders a sense of regiona l entitlement – ‘a proprietary attitude’ toward Southeast Asia (p. ix). That proprietary attitude – a mental construct – has suffered a series of debilitati ng shocks. Indonesia was hurt more by the AFC, and has been hurt more by the sti ll unfolding WOT, than any other ASEAN country. Nor was Jakarta’s sense of entitle ment boosted by its inability, in 1999, to stop the tiny half island of East Tim or from exiting Indonesia. In future, the identitarian aspect of regionalism could give way to the utilitar ian use of ASEAN settings as games in which self-interested member states calcul ate and negotiate bargains on behalf of their material interests. In such an eve nt, that instrumental aspect will become more salient, and a rationalist outlook on regionalism will become more insightful. Comparably, if ASEAN as an institut ion democratizes, that aspect will become more prominent while, correspondingly, liberalism gains analytic ground. In the meantime, pending events (and shocks) still to come, realism, constructiv ism and to a lesser extent culturalism, as approaches to Southeast Asian regiona lism, remain the main net beneficiaries of the Asian financial crisis and the wa r on terror.

ASEAN s Regional Integration Challenge: The ASEAN Process BENNY TEH CHENG GUAN In reviewing the analysis of the determinants of the success and failure of regi onal integration, this study has managed to identify a deeper root cause of the

 

Likewise. for example. The measurement for successfulness based on the understanding of western integration models or on p ure economic factors or even certain external variables risk over-generalizing a nd overlooking the internal complexities of an organization such as ASEAN which has been in existence for more than 30 years and would therefore suggest the pre sence of a political culture that plays a fundamental role in shaping and dictat ing the interaction of member countries. It has generated a certain level of comfort and und erstanding between the member states. China an d India. a second Asian crisis must be avoided at all cost. Furthermore. may requir e a shift in the consensus decision making process and such adoption may not be possible without some form of sovereignty bargain between the members. It must carefully consider the consequences if there is to be an accession of Ea st Timor. The problem generally lies in the Association s diplomatic culture – the working t radition that has come to be understood as the ASEAN way or the ASEAN process. the paper finds th at the reasons promulgated by Mattli and Webber are insufficient in explaining w hy ASEAN has not been successful in its integration quest. among others. o ne that can be identified and be proud of by the people of ASEAN. The Association s enlargement exercise has proved to be an expensive adventure. the paper breaks away from traditi onal literatures and introduces concepts of sovereignty bargaining and majority voting that the Association should explore to help it overcome some of the limit ations of its diplomatic culture.                   . non-intervention and consensus and the supplementation of commitment institut ions will strengthen ASEAN s core foundation and speed up the process as the or ganization no longer has the benefit of time. From the review of the conditions for successful integration. It is i n the light of these factors. Elimination of those norms do not pose a viable option and by this recognition. I t is a guiding principle that has over the years built confidence and trust amon g the members in the region. the ASEAN way in its current configuration is not competent to steer th e region towards an integrated community. Furthermore. reconfigured and supplemented if there are going to be genuine efforts at integration. that the paper calls for the Associa tion to make an urgent priority of strengthening itself internally. The ASEAN di plomacy must be reviewed. it is equally important to recogn ize that the three norms are interlinked and the reconfiguration of one may affe ct the other.reasons that are obstructing ASEAN from realizing its stated integration goals. The fact that ASEAN is built on norms and shaky institutional structures will not help it to weather the storm of glob alization and new regional challenges posed by two neighbouring giants. The focus now should be fully geared towards the internal strengthenin g of the organization and the further involvement of a wider circle of non-elite s and the general population in the effort to build a competitive institution. The ASEAN way is an important criterion that must be factored in to avoid too simplistic explanations that are incapabl e of fully capturing the intricacies of the region. The reconfiguration of the norms of sovereignty . However. A move to adopt constructive interference. the introduction of commitment institutions will require the alteration of th e stringent principles of non-intervention and sovereignty.

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