The Asia Pacific security order and implications for U.S. policy

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Honolulu: East-West Center
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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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National security - Asia - Congresses, National security - Pacific Area - Congresses, Security, International - Congresses, United States - Foreign relations - Congresses
viii, 54 pages
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