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About this book

Security threats in Asia fast become issues for the rest of the world. This introductory and wide-ranging text on the subject takes a thematic approach to assess how localized security issues - from territorial rivalry to the rise of China - materialize as 'ripple effects' across the whole region.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: How Should Asia’s Security Be Approached?

Abstract
The appearance of this book presupposes that its subject matter is sufficiently important to justify the writing of it. In my view, no region matters more than Asia to the world’s security. But this position needs to be explained and substantiated, which is the first task of this introductory chapter.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 2. Peace: Why Does Asia Seem More Secure?

Abstract
Scholars who look at security issues in Asia are generally not optimistic people. As the next seven chapters of this book will confirm, there are still plenty of security challenges in the region that give reason for concern. But today’s Asia is not a region riven by major armed conflicts, at least not major conflicts between states. In particular, it has been some time since Asia and its borderlands featured a major armed clash between the larger powers. In 1979, China attacked Vietnam in what was to become a rather short and limited war. More recently, in 1999, India and Pakistan, who had both tested nuclear weapons just a year earlier, conducted a brief and even more limited war in Kargil, a district of the disputed Kashmir area. But this sort of behaviour, while worrying, falls considerably short of the major wars that took place in Asia in earlier decades, including the Korean War of the early 1950s. In one study, Timo Kivimäki (2011, p. 58), suggests that battle deaths from interstate wars involving East Asian countries between 1980 and 2005 had dropped by as much as 99.5 per cent in comparison to the period between 1946 and 1979.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 3. Power: Is It All About the USA and China?

Abstract
Explaining the improvement in Asia’s security environment after the violent middle decades of the twentieth century is likely to remain a matter of some debate. That is as it should be. But when it comes to looking at Asia’s current and future security environment, there is significant consensus about the one factor that really matters: the relationship between the USA and China.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 4. Money: Can Economic Interdependence Keep Asia Safe?

Abstract
It is debatable whether Asia is becoming more or less secure, especially as the great powers jostle for influence. But it is undeniable that Asia is becoming more prosperous. Despite problems with poverty that continue to confront a number of countries in the region, Asia is better known for being home to many of the economic success stories of the modern world. Several Asian countries have transformed themselves into advanced developed economies in little more than a generation, and the concentration of global wealth is moving increasingly in Asia’s direction and away from the Western world. According to one study commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (Kohli et al., 2011), Asia is likely to account for over half of the global economy by 2050, up from under 20 per cent as recently as 1980. Given the scale of this economic transformation, the distribution of global power is also shifting. It is only sensible to think that this trend must carry some security implications with it.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 5. Guns: Will Military Technology Lead to New Conflict in Asia?

Abstract
There is a famous old Roman saying that those who wish for peace should prepare for war. According to this logic, Asia is in line for a significant amount of peacefulness with so many governments in the region making extensive military preparations. But if the Roman maxim is wrong, and if insecurity rather than peace comes from the development of military capabilities, Asia may be facing a difficult time. A major war in Asia could involve some of the world’s largest and most advanced armed forces. For that reason alone it could be especially costly, including in the loss of human lives.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 6. Rivalry: Will Territorial Competition and Nationalism Ruin Asia’s Peace?

Abstract
As the last two chapters have shown, both economic interdependence and the spread of weapons can certainly affect Asia’s security conditions. While the first may offer some encouragement to the avoidance of war, the second may in some instances increase tensions and make war more likely. But neither of these factors is likely to be a final determining factor in the decisions that governments make about whether or not to maintain peace. Those decisions, as the old but still relevant arguments of Clausewitz continue to suggest, are primarily political ones.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 7. Fragmentation: Are Asia’s Main Security Problems Domestic Ones?

Abstract
In thinking about Asia as a region, it is natural to focus on the relations between the region’s main political units. This equates in turn to an emphasis on the international relations between the region’s sovereign states. Likewise when one is thinking about Asia’s security, it is quite normal to emphasise security relationships between these same entities. To at least a significant degree, the security problems and prospects of the international system of states as they apply across Asia and its borderlands constitute an undeniably significant part of Asia’s security. This is what a good deal of this book, now at the half way stage, has been doing.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 8. Hazards: Will Non-State Actors and Transnational Challenges Overtake Asia?

Abstract
The end of the previous chapter was wrestling with one of the central issues in this book: the extent to which security challenges in one part of Asia have effects on the wider region. That discussion focused on a particularly intriguing variation of this theme: can what appear to be specifically domestic security problems within particular Asian countries still create ripple effects that others in the region will notice? The answer, not to put it too bluntly, is that it depends on the circumstances. Domestic security challenges can be felt beyond the specific national boundaries which help define them, but this is not the case for all such internal events. Yet one might then wonder about security problems which by their very nature cross national boundaries, and which may even give the impression that the distinction between domestic and international security in Asia is actually irrelevant. These are the sorts of issues that will be considered in this chapter.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 9. Interference: Can Intervention Work in Today’s Asia?

Abstract
The portion of this book which evaluates the numerous security issues and challenges confronting Asia and its borderlands, and which examines what these problems tell us about the nature of Asia’s regional security, is now completed. As has been demonstrated, some of these challenges have a greater capacity to generate security effects in the wider region, while others are more likely to remain localised in their impact. But this is not the end of the road for understanding Asia’s regional security. It is also necessary to consider the potential actions which might be taken in dealing with security challenges in the region, from the steps that individual states may take to the possibility of wider regional responses.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 10. Solidarity: Can Asian States Work Together On Security?

Abstract
Some of the interventions considered in the previous chapter have certainly been undertaken by groups of states with a shared interest in the reduction of conflict or in the punishment of a threatening party. But this does not mean that groups of states within Asia and its borderlands necessarily took the leading roles in these actions. A number of the efforts to mediate conflicts in Asia, to cite but one form of such activity, appear to have been mounted from beyond the region. In general, it is unusual to find the majority of states in Asia working together in coordinated responses to the region’s security problems. This results in something of a paradox. In recent years ASEAN has become the fulcrum for a series of regional forums designed to promote cooperation among the states of Asia. The remit for, and membership of, these new groupings extends beyond Southeast Asia into the wider region. Does this mean that while these organisations are in place, no meaningful Asian security cooperation is actually occurring?
Robert Ayson

Chapter 11. Division: Will Alliances and Partnerships Split the Region?

Abstract
Asia’s array of regional groupings, many of them still developing, provide at the very least a venue for the discussion of regional security problems. This offers something of a counterweight to the thesis that Asia is light on cooperative mechanisms. But well before even ASEAN came into existence, a set of formal interstate relationships had been established in the region which involved much more substantial levels of security cooperation. Beginning in the early 1950s, as the Cold War spread to Asia, the United States established a series of treaties in which it formally committed itself to the defence of several alliance partners in Asia and its borderlands. With one or two exceptions, these relationships remain in place today.
Robert Ayson

Chapter 12. Conclusion: Towards a New Asian Security?

Abstract
This final chapter will take stock of Asia’s security and then look forward into what may be next for the region. The first of these tasks is essential in light of the many security challenges and strategic responses which have been considered in these pages. As this analysis has moved from the security problems which challenged Asia’s leaders in the region’s relatively recent past to the external, internal and transnational security issues facing today’s decision-makers, a nagging question has remained which now requires an answer: which of these issues has the greatest impact on Asia’s security?
Robert Ayson
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