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The Asian Paradox: Toward a New Architecture Author(s): Robert A. Manning Source: World Policy Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Fall, 1993), pp. 55-64 Published by: The MIT Press and the World Policy Institute Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40209319 Accessed: 03/03/2010 04:45
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associateat the RobertA. Manning was until March 1993 a State DepartmentAsian policy adviser. He is currentlya research for Sigur Center East Asia at GeorgeWashington University.
The Asian Paradox
Towarda New Architecture
Robert A. Manning
The Asia-Pacific region is in the throes of self-examinationand political experimentation, a rite of passage whose outcome will have profound consequencesfor the United States and the emerging internationalsystem. The Pacific Rim is striving to define a new set of institutions to respond to the region's complex, post- Cold War economic and security challenges. Its prospects for success hinge on whether a new logic of geoeconomics, the imperatives flowing from unprecedentedeconomic interdependence, can transcendthe burdens of lingering antagonisms and suspicions that could shatter its prosperity. Central to this historic endeavoris redefining an American role for the twenty-first century in a region of paramountimportance to U.S. economic interests. The attributes that explain America's singular importance to Asia- we are its largest market and security guarantor are diminishing assets. The challenges for the United States are: to provide leadershipand vision as a "first among equals"partnerwithout being imperious; to expand transpacificeconomic ties while demonstrating their benefits at home; and to sustain a credible defense engagement while forging new structuresof cooperation based on the greater sharing of responsibility, which will permit further force reductions without jeopardizing stability. Pervasiveuncertainty about U.S. staying power underlies severalparadoxesthat characterize the Asian predicament: •The region is now more peaceful and prosperous than at any time in the past century,
The Asian Paradox
yet it is haunted by its checkeredhistory and uneasy about the future. •Apart from the Korean Peninsula, the Asia-Pacific faces no immediate security threat, or any manifestly adversarialrelations; yet it featuressome of the world's largest military powers, most of which are spending an increasing amount of their national wealth on upgrading their capabilities. •Global economic integration and communication flows erode sovereignty and alter the meaning of the nation-state, yet there is growing trepidation over old territorialdisputes amid rising nationalism.
History of Failure
History provides abundant evidence that any security structuresin the Pacific will be viable only to the extent that they reflect - the political realities of and grow out of the region. The consistent failure of previous efforts this century to create formal multilateral structures in the Pacific- and the remarkable dynamism and relative stability of the region to date in the absence of such organizations- explains why the Asia-Pacific is proceeding cautiously, if inexorably, toward change. Failed past efforts include the Washington Conferencesystem of the 1920s and early 1930s, an exercise in conventional arms control and multilateral processesthat did not deter Japanesemilitary acquisitions or ambitions. The postwar period was marked by a struggle among the great powers to shape a regional security architecturethat was a sub55
set of their global strategy. Thus, in the early 1950s the prospect of a Sino-Soviet bloc helped to bring about the U.S. response to the KoreanWar and the French defeat in Indochina. The United States then sought in to replicate NATO Asia through the shortlived CentralTreaty Organization (cento) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization
In 1969, the Soviets proposed an antiChina collective security system in Asia. But Leonid Brezhnev'stransparentlyself-serving initiative failed to draw any positive response in the region. While Mikhail Gorbachev'smore sophisticated call for an Asian security system in July 1986 and the subsequent end of the Cold War sparkeda ground swell of debate on the question, his proposals,many asymmetrical,also lacked resonance. Because it has always been a multidimensional security environment, the Asia-Pacific region has tended to be resistant to collective security schemes. Unlike in Europe, in the Asia-Pacific, the United States and the Soviet Union, while dominant factors,were part of a largerequation that included China, Japan, and more recently, India. Nor has there ever been a single common threat. Instead, there were- and are myriad (largely separate)security concerns varying from country to country and subregion to subregion. Precisely for this reason,during the Cold War, U.S. global strategy generally benefited East Asia, and was widely perceived as doing so. The dirty little secret of Asian stability was that while the U.S. forwarddeployed military presence in the Pacific was part of America'sglobal containment strategy, it also played a regional balancing role. The U.S. bilateral network of alliances in the region was, in essence, an informal security structure, while the Cold War muted latent fears(of a resurgentJapan, for example) and rivalries(Sino-Japanesecompetition, for example).
The evaporationof the anti-Soviet organizing principle behind the U.S. presence in the Pacific removed a comforting theological sense of purpose from regional perceptions of U.S. strategy. Despite mantra-like American assurancesto the contrary,budget pressures,an uncertainty-basedrationale (How many divisions does uncertainty require?) ratherthan a threat-basedrationale for U.S. military planning, and an evolving security environment have renderedU.S. force restructuringan open-ended process. After Korea is reunified and stable, there is a considerablelikelihood that the U.S. forward-deployedforces there will be withdrawn. As the role of the superpowershas diminished, fearsof strategic empty spaces have grown, along with desires for additional security provisions as a hedging strategy. In short, the balanceof power is an important but not the sole element in maintaining stability in the Pacific: the U.S. military presence is necessaryand irreplaceable - at least in the short term- but it is no longer sufficient. There is, however, at best only a vague sense of what may ultimately supersedeit. Few Asian states have overcome the suspicions that have historically colored their perceptions of their neighbors, confounding the twin challenges of accommodating rising Chinese power and an ascendentJapan. In a sense, East Asia's organizational vacuum is a virtue: unlike Europe, which is struggling to redefine collective security institutions designed for a previous era, East Asia is unburdened by such arrangements and can proceed almost ex nihilo to fashion mechanisms suited to its own unfolding realities. The limited utility of Europe'sweb the of collective security structures NATO, on Security and Cooperationin Conference the Europe (CSCE), Western EuropeanUnion (weu) - in resolving the savage tribal conflict in Bosnia has provided Asians with a sobering reminder that multilateral institutions are no nostrum: they are a means, not
behavior,political direction, and relations with key countries, particularlythe United States, could be altered in the process. In North Korea, the possibilities run the gamut from implosion and a collapse along the lines of Romania to explosion. In either TheNatureof the Threat The principal challenges to security and sta- case, the impact on Northeast Asia will almost certainly be substantial, as will Korean bility in the region are:most important, the standoff on the Korean Peninsula, in which reunification, which is likely to occur by the end of the century. The challenge will be to both sides are heavily armed, with North Korea'snuclearprogram adding the prosmanage the transition from the current rea regional nucleararms race;and sec- gime to whatever follows it- either the pect of "soft landing" of a gradual reunificationor a ondarily, territorialdisputes, mainly in the South China Sea, and Beijing's refusalto recollapse and rapid merger that would be far more chaotic and violent than Germany's. nounce the use of force, which rendersthe While Korea is not analogous to Germany Taiwan Straits another potential source of and the two-plus-four process in legal and conflict (although this is unlikely, barring a Taiwanesedeclarationof independence). political terms, international involvement can support a peaceful transition. If the Another residue of the Cold War is the discord in Russo-Japaneserelations symbolized Koreas(as envisioned in their December 1991 reconciliation accords)turn the armiby the dispute over the ownership of the stice into a peace treaty, if they achieve a deNorthern Territoriesand exacerbatedby nuclearizedpeninsula, and if they reach Russia'smilitary hardware,particularlya arms-reductionagreements, outside powers new generation of nuclearsubmarines. can play a role by endorsing, respecting, and The strategic fulcrum of the Pacific is where the interests of the Northeast Asia, guaranteeing the outcomes of such develop- the United States,Jaments. If North Korea collapses, on the four majorpowers - are joined. Relaother hand, dealing with the fallout will be pan, China, and Russia tions between these states, particularly primarily a Northeast Asian problem. Since between the United States and Japan, China the interests of the four major powers (the and Japan, and the United States and China, United States,Japan, China, and Russia) are are key to regional security and to any largely congruent with regardto the Korean future cooperativeapproachesto security Peninsula, managing this problem can serve as a catalyst for broadercooperationin problems. The as yet unknown consequencesof the Northeast Asia. Southeast Asia has a very different, and generational leadershipsuccession in China and North Korea and, to a lesser degree, in largely independent, security calculus: there Vietnam, and the uncertain outcome of Rus- is no immediate threat to stability, although in the South China Sea, a medium-term sia's transformationinject a high degree of source of potential conflict exists. There are into an alreadyfluid secuunpredictability also secondaryissues: piracy in the Straits of rity environment. The only certainty with regardto China is that some degree of turbu- Malacca;a welter of minor territorialdislence will inevitably follow the death of putes; and the danger of political upheaval A broadconsensus for sus- in Burma, the Philippines, and possibly, Deng Tsiao-ping. Indonesia. But there is also the widespread taining and expanding economic reform reinforcedby a 9 percent averageannual perception throughout Southeast Asia that - suggests continuregional security is largely dependent on growth rate since 1979 relations among the major powers. in that realm. But China's international ity an end. But Asia is also awarethat Europe's overlapping structuresprovide the instrumentality to act- when there is the political will to do so.
The Asian Paradox 57
Their lingering fearshelp explain the sustained efforts by Asian governments to rapidly modernize their respective military forcesdespite the absence of immediate threats. Since 1988, China has doubled its defense spending. Japan's annual defense budget, some $42 billion (at current yen rates), is the world's third largest.1Although their defense spending has recently states have begun to level off, the ASEAN been modernizing their military forces since the early 1980s.2 This is in part due to the Law of the Sea Treaty, which gave them twohundred-mile economic zones to defend (thus the acquisition of air and sea capabilities), to their new prosperityamid a buyer's arms market, and to a legitimate need to modernize their respective armed forces. Exaggeratedconcern overJapan has also spurredmilitary spending throughout the region. Asian carping over even the modest and circumscribedJapanesepeacekeeping role under U.N. auspices in Cambodia reveals residual fearsand an enormous perception gap. The pervasivenessof Japan's pacifist political culture (there was utter panic in Japan last May after a Japanese peacekeeperwas killed in Cambodia)is lost on a region bitter about Japan's airbrushing of its past. Indeed, it could be argued that the single most important confidence-building measurethat Japan could take would be to revise its history books to honestly reflect its behaviorin the thirties and forties. In any event, depicting this pattern of Asian military spending as a new arms race is at best premature.None of the Asian players has acquired significant force-projection capabilities. Moreover,taken together, the members are not defense budgets of ASEAN much larger than that of Taiwan. China's actual defense spending- even if one accepts the high-end estimate of $20 billion- is barely half of Japan's, not to mention China's technology gap. Nonetheless, the upward trajectoryof spending and acquisition of new combat capabilities- China's outlay of $2 billion for Russian aircraftand
military technology, Taiwan's procurement of F-l6s and Mirage 2000s, and Indonesia's purchaseof a third of the formerEast German fleet is cause for concern. The mix of fluidity and an "auto-pilot"quality to the acquisition of new military capabilities recomand reasurrance mends more transparency measures. The debate over institution building in the Pacific and the actual process have been unfolding on two tracks, the official track and the academic/think-tank track, where the searchfor a new template has become a cottage industry. Since formerSoviet president Mikhail Gorbachevissued his call for new collective security measuresin July 1986, there has been a steady stream of proposals from many quarters,ranging from to calls for an Asian CSCE proposalsfor less ambitious forums for security dialogues. From initial U.S. fearsof a "slippery slope" of naval arms control, on the one hand, to unwieldy collective security schemes, on the other, vigorous debate has evolved toward a rough consensus or what former secretaryof state James Baker described as "adhoc multilateralism."This consensus involves undertaking temporary, multilateral measurestailored to fit the character of specific problems and developing regional security dialogues from existing forums (which are often confused with alternate security arrangements)to explore new forms of cooperation.
Although the issue of Asian security is sometimes mistakenly portrayedas U.S. bilateralism versus multilateralism, this is a false dichotomy. There is little dispute that the U.S.-Japaneseand U.S.-Korean alliances are irreplaceable,central to maintaining stability. But there is a widespreadperception that they will not exist foreverand that new political mechanisms will have to be devised. Rather, multilateral efforts, such as security dialogues, should be viewed as synergistic complements to key bilateral (U.S.WORLDPOLICY JOURNAL
Japanese,U.S.-Chinese, Chinese-Japanese) ties, which themselves should be thought of as building blocks- a sinequa non for the gradual evolution of a new security structure. Multilateral undertakings should be aimed at overcoming longstanding suspiand conficions and add layersof reassurance dence above and beyond those provided by bilateral relations. In the efforts to resolve regional conflicts in Cambodiaand Korea and in the exercise of preventive diplomacy with regardto the South China Sea (especially the workshops chaired by Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas), improvisationalapproachesto security issues have multiplied. The Asia-Pacific is beginning the next phase: experimentation with new processes. Post-Ministerial Conference The ASEAN an annual affairinvolving the foreign (PMC), ministers of Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada,New Zealand, the United States, and the EuropeanCommunity, is the closest approximationto a regional political process. It has added China, Russia, and Vietnam to its regional forum, now comprising twenty states, to discuss security issues. But its unwieldy size and fuzzy agenda suggest it will be some time before it is more than a schmoozing workshop. However, the habit of associationand collective political personover ality acquired by ASEAN the past quarter century and the five-power defense arrangement(between Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia,and Singapore) have facilitated a still-embryonic defense collaboration,including intelligence sharing and more and more joint exercises. This activity is quietly expanding, often states on a bilateral basis, among the ASEAN a growing deand Australia, and it entails fense cooperationwith the United States following its withdrawal from the Philippines. In a modest multilateral initiative, in early June Malaysiahosted a "defensedialogue," a the forum for defense officials from ASEAN, United States, Australia, and others in the region to discuss such issues as threat assessThe Asian Paradox
ment, doctrine, acquisitions, and other transparency-relatedmatters. Such activity is an important, if often overlooked, building block of cooperativesecurity. Modest as ASEAN's building-block diplois, there is no comparableactivity in macy Northeast Asia. Informally, the diplomacy surrounding the North Korean nuclear issue has begun to produce the sense of community that is a prerequisite for creating such a structureas ASEAN. U.S.-led efforts to end North Korea'snuclearweapons program and achieve a denuclearizedpeninsula have involved intense consultation and coordination with South Korea and Japan. Over the past three years, this has evolved into a trilateral diplomatic effort toward North Korea. The United States has worked closely with Russia and has increasingly engaged China on this issue. A global consensus, reflected in the deliberations of the Internahas tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), flowed from the trilateralconsensus. This also illustrates the overlapping layers by which extraregionalinstitutions help govern Asian security. But with what agenda and for what purposes are multilateral efforts emerging? Cooperative security mechanisms can be an important tool of preventive diplomacy, but they will be effective only to the extent that there is a perception of common interest among the powers involved.
Follow the Money Enter Geo-Economics:
New forces at play in the Asia-Pacific region hold the promise of ameliorating potential conflicts and transformingthese meandering efforts into a durable, useful architecture. The pivotal factor is the region's economic success. There is an ubiquitous sense that, to borrow Calvin Coolidge's line, the business of Asia is business. This burgeoning economic and technological dynamism is a principal unifying factor in the Pacific, reshaping the interests, outlooks, and conceptions of security for a new generation of decision-makers.The new
logic of geo-economics, and the imperatives flowing from the paramount importance attached to commercial and technological capabilities, is pitted against the traditional logic of geopolitics: new requirementsfor partnershipversus lingering suspicions and old ideas of nationhood. This geo-economic logic also argues for a more expansive definition of what constitutes security- what has been termed "comprehensivesecurity."That is to say, the notion that a range of issues beyond the military balance economic development, environment, refugee flows- is a factor in the security equation. While it should not be reduced to simple determinism, the sheer volume of interaction- commerce, technology, ideas, people- is creating webs of interests and a new regional demeanor. Intra-Asian and transpacifictrade and investment are exploding, as much of East Asia enters its fourth or fifth decade of averaging more than 6 percent annual growth. U.S. transpacifictrade since 1978, from $80 has nearlyquadrupled billion to $316 billion in 1991. Intra-Asian trade between China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand grew 58 percent from 1986 to 1992, and now accounts for 30 percent of those economies*total trade. When their trade with Japan is factoredin, intra-Asian trade accounts for about 50 percent of their total trade, and transpacifictrade accounts for almost two-thirds.3The economies of East Asia are alreadycollectively larger than that of the United States (23 percent of world GNP),and are projected to grow faster than either the U.S. or Europeaneconomies. Furthermore,"growth clusters" trade and investment networks without regard to (or despite) national borders are emerging: with Hong Kong and Taiwan in south China; on the Sino-Soviet border;in the "growth triangle" linking Singapore, Batam Island (Indonesia),and Malaysia'sJohor province;with Indonesia'scalls for a second "triangle"encompassing southern Thailand,
Sumatra,and Penang (Malaysia);in the Thai-dominated "Bahtzone" on the Indochina Peninsula; and with South Korean investment in adjacentChinese provinces (particularlythose with ethnic Koreanpopulations). ASEAN's fledgling free trade area is another sign of this trend. Despite (afta) exaggeratedanalysesprojecting a "yen bloc," overseasChinese investment in Southeast Asia (particularlyfrom Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore)now overshadows Japanese investment flows.4 Geo-economic imperatives have begun to alter political conduct. The annual $6 billion two-way trade between China and Taiwan, Taiwan's investment of more than $1 billion in the mainland, and some 1.5 million Taiwanesevisitors to the mainland since 1988 have begun to erode the political frictions of the past. Thus, China and Taiwan are both members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationorganizationand the Asian Development Bank and will soon join the General Agreement on Tariffsand Trade. These new links also pushed both countries to an unprecedentedmeeting in Singaporelast April to discuss a range of practical issues raised by their new interdependence- investment protection, intellectual property rights, refugees, and communication links, among others. Similarly, it is no coincidence that with almost $10 billion in annual two-way trade (representinga twenty-fold increasesince 1988) and burgeoning South Korean investment in China, Beijing established diplomatic ties with Seoul in 1992 while paring back aid to its beleagueredNorth Koreanally. The U.S.-Japaneseand Sino-Japaneserelationships provide the most exacting test of the logic of geo-economics, with the latter in some measuredependent on the former. The durability of the U.S.-Japanesealliance (or more broadly,Japan's internationalrole) is not only a key determinant in the SinoJapanese relationship but a majorfactor in the U.S.-Japan-European Community triangle that is the nucleus of the emerging postWORLDPOLICY JOURNAL
Cold War system. The challenge to U.S.Japaneserelations is to redefine the strategic bargain in order to structurea more mature partnershipthat would reflect a balanced division of responsibilities between the world's two largest economies. Japan'squest for a largerglobal role (evidenced by its membership in the G-7 and by its desire for a U.N. Security Council seat) is aided by the U.S. -Japanesealliance. While Tokyo is becoming a more independent actor, it does not seek autonomy, but ratherto integrate itself in bilateral, regional, and global institutions. The general volatility of Japan's surrounding neighbors Russia and China- reinforcesTokyo's desire to maintain the U.S. alliance. Absent a remilitarizationoption (including a substitute for the U.S. nuclear umbrella) or an alternativesecurity partner,and given the enormity of U.S.-Japanesefinancial, commercial, and technological ties, Japan has a compelling reasonfor overcoming the tumult of currenteconomic imbalancesand shaping a more reciprocalrelationship with the United States commensuratewith its economic weight and obligations.
Given the weight of shared interests, the positive nature of trade and investment, and the need to manage the effects of explosive growth, it is hardly coincidental that the most elaborateattempt at multilateral institution building is the fifteen-member AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation(apec) organization.5It is the result of the region's budding economic interdependence and a quarter-centuryof sustained debate, apec's evolution reflects an informal Asian style and rhythm that are highly instructive to the security debate. APEC began in 1989 as a loose, high-level forum aimed at fostering market-orientedgrowth and a mechanism for liberalizing trade and facilitating the burgeoning economic integration of the Pacific. Its fifteen members include all of America'sand Japan's major Asian trading
The Asian Paradox
partners remarkably,even China, Hong and Taiwan- representing more Kong, than half the world's total GNP.It also includes Canada,and Mexico is likely to join soon, creating a naturalNAFTA-APEC bridge. In 1992, APEC became a full-fledged international organization (complete with secretariat). It is creating a knowledge infrastructure for the region: APEC's headquarters in Singapore, for example, is assembling a computerized data base that includes information on trade barriers,energy demand, and a range of other economic and financial issues. This year, the rotating chair of APEC beto the United States. APEC focusing is longs on liberalizing regional trade and investment, which may result in a new trade and investment accordwhen the foreign ministers meet in Seattle in November. A regional approachto trade holds the possibility of mitigating bilateral trade tensions by providing reciprocalregionwide market access. If APEC succeeds in harmonizing customs and certification proceduresand telecommunications and pharmaceuticalstandards,in reaching common standardsfor food and consumer electronics, in adopting APECwide intellectual property rules, a disputesettlement mechanism, or an open-skies aviation accord, it would rapidly accelerate transpacifictrade and investment and begin to shape an Asia-Pacific integrated market. An open, adhesive type of regionalism, now members, being contemplated by APEC could be an important complement to GATT for several reasons. could provide leverage with a First, APEC recalcitrantEuropeanCommunity to gain needed concessions to expand the parameters of the multilateral trading system. To the degree that APEC succeeds, it will provide a hedge against Europe'sinsular tendencies. In addition, if APEC adopted some of these visionary measures,it would be at the cutting edge of trade liberalization, going beyond the benchmarkof any GATT agree61
ment. Adding macroeconomiccoordination to its agenda is another important, albeit difficult, challenge for apec. But there is still a larger role APEC can a forum for transpacificdiaplay. Already logue at the foreign-ministerial level, it provides a venue in which other outstanding issues are regularly, if informally, discussed. to Upgrading APEC include heads-of-government sessions, as President Clinton has prothe posed, would make APEC centerpiece of an emerging Pacific Community. Just as the G-7 acquireda formal political dimension, APEC could attain such a role over time, though this would be prematureat present. APEC cannot and should not become a political/security institution per se. But it should be viewed as the foundation upon which efforts take place, and as one of the severaloverlapping mechanisms in a widening web of cooperativerelations. By accelerating transpacificeconomic integration, APEC deepen its members' stakes in will achieving rules of the game governing political, as well as economic, behavior. PMC The ASEAN should be transformed into an Asia-Pacific political/security forum, while keeping its focus on Southeast Asia. Despite its limitations, it can be useful as an early-warningmechanism and as an inclusive political process for forging a regionwide consensus that can be extended to the larger internationalcommunity. An Asia-Pacific security forum should define itself as a regional body, but it should be rooted in ASEAN keep its focus on to Southeast Asia, whose four hundred and fifty million people and myriad problems offer a rich agenda. This larger body should set up smaller, single-issue groups modeled on the ad-hoc, Indonesian-led forum on the South China Sea to explore solutions on a more official basis, which could then be referredto the full group. and The defining challenge for ASEAN reis resolving the Spratly Isgional dialogue lands dispute. It is the most likely source of conflict, and it is also an important test of
Chinese intentions. The quasi-officialIndonesia-led workshops have laid a foundation for formal negotiations that should be pursued, perhaps under the auspices of ASEAN as PMC-plus, it evolves into a full-fledged transpacificpolitical entity. Initiatives such as a ban on ballistic missiles and chemical and biological weapons in Southeast Asia could also be confidence-building measures. This effort should be complemented by a dialogue among defense officials that is clearly focused on the subregion. There is a full agenda of subregional problems that air should be pursued: transparency; and maritime surveillanceof sea lanes of communication; piracy, smuggling, refugee flows; and enforcement of fishing rights. Such issues highlight the potential for cooperative security in Southeast Asia that should be linked to the wider forum.
Northeast Asia: The Heart of the Matter
The region's most immediate and crucial challenge is to begin developing a cooperative political frameworkfor Northeast Asia, whose security concernsare distinct and volatile, and where multilateral process is noticeably absent. It is also where an American initiative is most needed. A forum for Northeast Asia has a compelling logic. The interests of the four major powers (the United States, China,Japan, and Russia) overlap:all support a denuclearized Korean Peninsula;all would prefera "soft landing" for North Korea;and all have an interest in minimizing turmoil resulting from Korean reunification. Momentum toward such a subregional mechanism has begun. South Korea has proposed- most recently in formerpresident Roh Tae Woo's September 1992 U.N. speech- a forum to include the two Koreas and the four majorpowers. The new administration in Seoul is favorablydisposed to such an initiative, and all parties, with the possible exception of North Korea, have a measureof interest in the idea.
Beyond the issue of nuclearweapons on the Korean Peninsula, there is an important agenda for managing the transition to a unified Korea. The Koreanquestion will, in theory, ultimately be resolved principally by Koreansthrough the North-South dialogue that has alreadyproduced on paper a framework for reconciliationand arms control that was signed in December 1991. In terms of risk management, there is a logic to multilateral consultations to coordinate efforts among the four powers and Seoul to manage the resulting crisis if the North Korean regime collapses. Such a development could produce refugee flows to China,Japan, and Russia, as well as to South Korea not to mention desperate military action that might breakout under such a scenario.If the current nuclearcrisis is not resolved and North Korea continues on what is likely to be a suicidal trajectory, such a five-power forum makes sense to prevent conflict. There is an equally important subregional agenda that could mitigate concerns about China and Japan, help integrate Russia into the region (Moscow should also and be allowed to join APEC), allay regional concernsabout a reunified Korea. A Northeast Asian political grouping would embed China and Japan, as well as the United States, in a multilateral organization that could foster an atmospherethat would help to overcome traditional fears, build trust and confidence, and provide a larger context for Sino-Japaneserelations. A Northeast Asian agenda could include military transparencyissues (defense spending, doctrinal talks, maritime safety). Such discussions could be held in tandem with political talks. Japan is alreadyinitiating bilateral military talks with China, providing a precedent to build on. Russian military deployments and activity would be an important item for discussion. In addition, arms sales, missile proliferation,and nuclear safety should be part of this agenda.
There is also one vital, nonmilitary security issue that should be addressedby a Northeast Asian forum:Japaneseplutonium reprocessing.This is perhaps more important than traditional security issues. Japan's reprocessingprogram and stockpiling of plutonium has set off alarm bells acrossAsia. It has a questionable economic rationale. South Korea is alreadymore dependent on nuclearpower than Japan, and a reunified Korea might have an interest in reprocessing, in part due to fearsof Japan. If reprocessing is necessary and market forces sug- it could be done on a regest it is not gional basis with facilities under IAEA control, with equal access to all in Northeast Asia. Or, a ban on plutonium and enriched uranium production could be explored, with regional management of this material by the IAEA. Such an initiative would greatly help to melt latent suspicions about Japan and bolster the global nonproliferationregime. This issue could be part of a subregional energy development agenda. There is also a Northeast Asian dimension to environmental concerns. Acid rain from China is alreadyshowing up in South Korea and Japan. This, too, is a problem that requiresa collaborativesubregional solution.
The American Response
Although all but invisible to most Americans, the Asia-Pacific is groping its way toward a new sense of community in a manner and at a pace reflecting its unique characteristics. To the extent that this process achieves an institutionalized regional identity, the Asia-Pacific will carrya preponderant weight in the emerging international system. That this endeavoris increasingly being driven by Asians should be a wake-up call to a chronically EurocentricAmerica. Our choice is either to help shape it or to be shaped by it. If the United States is to remain globally competitive, there is no region as important to American interests as the Asia63
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Pacific. By dint of geography, history, and interests, the United States is a Pacific power and will remain a central actor in the region- increasingly less the hegemonic power than first among equals, as American markets and military assets decline in relative terms (although they are growing in absolute terms). In coming decades, U.S. economic engagement in the region will be key to sustaining a presence in the Pacific. If America'strade and investment flows do not grow proportionatelywith the region, the U.S. defense presence will not be politically sustainable. The challenge for the United States is to use its current status to best advanceAmerican interests. To do this, the United States must anchor itself in a web of overlapping regional institutions in order to enhance political and defense cooperation;serve as an early-warningsystem for potential conflict; bolster market-orientedeconomic growth; mediate conflict; and build trust and confidence in America as a durable and reliable partner. This requiresleadershipand vision. The Bush administration played an important cautionaryrole in the security debate but was a somewhat hesitant participant in this institution-building process beyond APEC. The Clinton administration waxes enthusiastic about "dialogue"but conveys little sense of direction or desired political outcome. To
date, there is scant evidence of any desired political goals. U.S. policy tends to be reactive and crisis-driven, and to be shaped by domestic special interests. The regional architecturesketched above is grounded in the notion that form should follow function and is based on an assessment of regional trends and a conception of common interests from which a practical vision might flow. As President Clinton warned in his nomination acceptance speech, "He who is without vision shall perish."•
Notes This figure is misleading, as quality-of-life costs necessaryto recruit and maintain troops and the added cost of weapons systems, attributable to Japan's ban on exports, must be factored into the costs of actual capabilities. 2 ASEANconsists of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. 3 See AmexBank Review,May 1993; also, the International Trade Commission's study of intra-Asian
trade, East Asia: Regional Integration and Implications for the United States, June 1993.
Economist, May 7-13, 1993, p. 20. APECincludes Australia, Brunei, Canada,
China, Hong Kong, Indonesia,Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States.
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