Senior Policy Seminar

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    Key issues in Asia Pacific security : Senior Policy Seminar 2001
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2001) Glosserman (rapporteur), Brad
    Participants considered a wide variety of issues affecting a region that possesses a diversity of cultural, political, and economic traditions, that is being battered by an array of forces, and that is struggling with fundamental transitions. Geographically, the discussion spanned the entire region, from the seeming stalemate in dialogue between North and South Korea to the hope that there may at last be some solution to Indonesia's woes. There were debates over the guiding principles of international order as well as scrutiny of the problem of localized conflicts and the role of multilateral institutions. Major themes that emerged from the discussions include: U.S. power is preponderant in both the Asia Pacific region and the world and is likely to continue to be so in the short- and medium-term. There are questions about how the United States will exercise this power and to what ends. Paradoxically, despite the overwhelming disparity between its power and that of any other nation, the United States' ability to influence outcomes appears to be diminishing. Washington's willingness to accept the limits of its influence will be a key factor in its relations with Asia Pacific governments. Globalization continues to erode the power of governments within the region as external forces play an increasing role in national decision making. The future success of regional governments will depend on their ability to take advantage of the opportunities created by globalization rather than be exploited by it. Similarly, governments need to be prepared to accommodate the new political pressures from below that are created by globalization. China's emergence as a regional power poses a daunting challenge for the Asia Pacific order. Chinese participants maintained that their country is often misunderstood. Playing up a Chinese military threat is mistaken, they argued, because China's focus over the short- and medium-term will continue to be its own development and modernization. Nonetheless, China's rise will continue to strain the existing structure of relations within the region. While the odds of military conflict between states are low, conflict within states is rising. The region faces a wide spectrum of threats. Security planning must adjust accordingly. There is no alternative to international cooperation and coordination. Many of the new security challenges are transnational in origin and nature, and no nation can combat them alone. The Asia Pacific region's diversity requires that it develop its own security architecture; it cannot import solutions, such as an Asia Pacific NATO. Any successful mechanism will respect that diversity and the distinctively Asian way of resolving disputes that has emerged. A geographic survey revealed little immediate prospect of an outbreak of hostilities in the region, but there are still grounds for concern over time. A substantial portion of the Seminar discussions was devoted to the gap between hopes for institutions in the region and their performance. The consensus view was that expectations should be scaled back. It is still early in the regime-creation process in the Asia Pacific region. Pacific Islands issues were raised at several points during the discussions, both because some of the islands share many of the problems of political fragmentation and instability as in Southeast Asia and because they appear to be uniquely vulnerable to a variety of global challenges ranging from global warming to money laundering. The islands' problems are compounded by the fact that the island countries have little voice in regional, much less global, affairs. Another issue that has dogged the region is the question of the balance between sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. For ASEAN, the dilemma is especially acute due to the importance attached to the doctrine of noninterference in the affairs of member states that has guided the organization since it was formed. Seminar discussions noted movement away from absolute sovereignty and the principle of complete noninterference, but here, too, practitioners stressed the need for patience. Regional governments must be allowed to move forward at a pace with which they are comfortable. Participants stressed the importance of a multilayered security architecture for the region, compensating for the failure of regional institutions to meet the high expectations invested in them. The network of bilateral security alliances centered on the United States still undergirds regional security, and a continued U.S. presence is generally considered to be an essential element of Asia Pacific security and stability. Several participants pointed out that one of the real changes over the past decade has been the elimination of doubts about the U.S. commitment to the Asia Pacific region, although somewhat paradoxically some questions are now being raised about the continuing need for a forward-deployed U.S. military presence.
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    Global economic crisis and implications for the Asia Pacific region : Senior Policy Seminar 2009
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2009)
    The Senior Policy Seminar is a keystone event in the East-West Center's annual calendar. The 2009 seminar, tenth in the series, brought together senior foreign policy officials, private sector leaders, and analysts from countries around the region for nonofficial, frank, and non-attribution discussions of security issues in the Asia Pacific region. The 2009 Senior Policy Seminar focused on "The Global Economic Crisis and Implications for the Asia Pacific Region." Participants discussed the recovery underway throughout the region and the possibility of some countries adopting new growth strategies. There was considerable discussion about how the economic crisis has affected relations among the major powers. One session was devoted to climate change and energy issues. The seminar also examined the Obama Administration's approach to Asia and looked ahead to raise questions and make some projections about U.S.-Asian relations. This report presents the rapporteur's summary of the group discussions and the theme sessions. As in past years, the report adheres to the "Chatham House Rule" under which observations referred to in the report are not attributed to any individual participant. All views expressed in these documents are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent either a consensus of all views expressed or the views of the East-West Center. The principal value of the seminar is always found in the insights and contributions of the participants, both those who made opening presentations at the various sessions and those who participated in the frequently lively discussions. It is their observations that provide the analyses and judgments recorded in this report.
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    Shifting currents of U.S. and Asia Pacific economics, resources and security
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2008)
    The Senior Policy Seminar is a keystone event in the East-West Center's annual calendar. The 2008 seminar, ninth in the series, brought together senior foreign policy officials, private sector leaders, and analysts from countries around the region for nonofficial, frank, and non-attribution discussions of security issues in the Asia Pacific region. Although the 2008 Senior Policy Seminar took place in July, before the economic crisis that led to unprecedented steps by the U.S. government to restore confidence, the overarching theme of the meeting was the turmoil in the global economy--including financial markets, resources, and trade--and the related challenges to sustaining economic growth and to the regional order. With the U.S. presidential election campaign entering its final phase, the seminar also considered how these issues will impact, and be impacted by, the next president, and the likely views of the next president on foreign policy issues, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. This report presents the rapporteur's summary of the group discussions and the theme sessions. As in past years, the report adheres to the "Chatham House Rule" under which observations referred to in the report are not attributed to any individual participant. All views expressed in these documents are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent either a consensus of all views expressed or the views of the East-West Center. The principal value of the seminar is always found in the insights and contributions of the participants, both those who made opening presentations at the various sessions and those who participated in the frequently lively discussions. It is their observations that provide the analyses and judgments recorded in this report.
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    Regional dynamics and future U.S. policy.
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2000)
    The East-West Center Senior Policy Seminars bring together senior security officials and analysts from countries around the region for nonofficial, frank, and non-attribution discussions of the differing perspectives on security issues in the Asia Pacific region. The hope and intention of this Seminar series is, through such exchanges, both to promote mutual understanding among the participants and to explore possibilities for improving the problem-solving capabilities and mechanisms in the region. The uncertain nature of the post-Cold War era in the Asia Pacific region and the lack of a clear framework for regional problem solving were recurrent themes in the discussions at the 1999 Senior Seminar. The major objective of the Seminar was to assess the U.S. role in the region and the challenges of formulating U.S. policies in the twenty-first century. The Seminar first reviewed the changing economic, sociopolitical, and strategic dynamics of the Asia Pacific region. This was followed by a consideration of the major elements of the current U.S. role, as well as selected problem areas in U.S.-Asia Pacific policy the U.S. forward military presence, economic issues, and the role of democracy and human rights in U.S. relations. These discussions provided the background for the assessment of U.S. policymaking for the coming period.
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    The Asia Pacific security order and implications for U.S. policy
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2000)
    The many uncertainties in the outlook for the Asia Pacific regional order dominated the discussions at the 2000 Senior Policy Seminar. A number of positive and welcome events over the preceding year were noted the unexpectedly swift recovery of most of the region from the economic-financial crisis of 1997-98, the dramatic (though still not considered definitive) prospects for change on the Korean peninsula opened up by the summit meeting between the South and North Korean leaders in June, and the multinational operation in late 1999 to restore order in East Timor was also considered to have been a basically successful case of international cooperation in dealing with a security and humanitarian crisis although the longer-term nation building lies ahead. However, many if not most other aspects of the regional outlook were considered far more problematic. Problem areas discussed included: The basic lack of consensus over the nature, evolution, and possibilities of the regional security order; Uncertainties regarding the policies and relations of the major powers involved in the region (critically including U.S.-China relations); Continuing flash points and other sources of conflict between the states of the region, as well as serious internal problems in several cases, most particularly Indonesia; Inexorable forces of globalization that are weakening every government's ability to control its own destiny; and An ominous combination of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems and of new and potentially destabilizing technological developments most visibly exemplified by the issue of missile defense systems. All of these factors were seen as sources of continuing debate, differences, and even of possible conflict in the region. Another major theme at the Seminar was the absence or weakness of international and regional institutions capable of dealing with the many issue areas identified. An increasing level of peacekeeping and peace-restoring activities by the international community was noted, particularly under the auspices of the United Nations. A major new area of interest is the rising emphasis on the "right" of the international community to conduct "humanitarian interventions" where fundamental human rights are being endangered even as a result of internal conflicts within states. Nevertheless, the general assessment of the Seminar was that international institutions, procedures, and norms for dealing with conflict still face serious obstacles and lag far behind the challenges posed in today's world, challenges that seem bound to become even more complex in the future. In the absence of an effective international framework to deal with issues of global order, the lack of strong regional institutions in the Asia Pacific has even more serious potential consequences.
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