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A Euro­pean mil­i­tary con­tri­bu­tion in Asia

asian se­cu­rity is grad­u­ally mov­ing up the lad­der of at­ten­tion in euro­pean cap­i­tals. The eu now ad­heres to the asean Treaty of amity and Co-op­er­a­tion; has joined the asean Re­gional Fo­rum (in 2012) and the Coun­cil for se­cu­rity Co-op­er­a­tion in the asia Pa­cific (2013); and signed a cri­sis man­age­ment co-op­er­a­tion agree­ment with south Korea (2014). NATO has a close di­a­logue with aus­tralia, New Zealand and south Korea, as well as with Tokyo. In ad­di­tion, amid the tense sit­u­a­tion on the Korean Penin­sula in 2017, a dis­cus­sion started within NATO on whether North Korean ag­gres­sion could trig­ger an ar­ti­cle 5 sit­u­a­tion, which in­volves pro­vi­sions for col­lec­tive de­fense.

at the bi­lat­eral level, both France and the uk have re­cently es­tab­lished reg­u­lar 2+2 meet­ings (for­eign and de­fense min­is­ters) with Ja­pan. at the an­nual shangri-la di­a­logue in sin­ga­pore in 2016, the French min­is­ter of de­fense ar­gued that France is ready to sup­port naval ves­sels in free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions in the south China sea, while the bri­tish for­eign min­is­ter re­cently stated the uk’s in­ten­tion to be “back east of suez.”

The grow­ing power asym­me­try in the re­gion and bei­jing’s more as­sertive mar­itime poli­cies have not only re­sulted in in­creased at­ten­tion from europe, but also a de­mand sig­nal from China’s neigh­bors. This de­mand sig­nal is, of course, with­out com­par­i­son much stronger to­wards the us, but in its first Na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy in 2013, Ja­pan iden­ti­fied en­hanced se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with europe through the eu, NATO and the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for se­cu­rity and Co-op­er­a­tion in europe (Osce) as one im­por­tant ini­tia­tive.

Nev­er­the­less, it ap­pears un­likely that euro­pean coun­tries would be will­ing, or even able, to com­mit sub­stan­tial troops or weapons plat­forms to a con­flict in the re­gion. asia is mainly a mar­itime the­ater, and as Ian bow­ers elab­o­rates on page 102, euro­pean navies are cur­rently a mere shadow of their glo­ri­ous past. More­over, it re­mains an open ques­tion whether a mil­i­tary en­gage­ment in asia from euro­pean coun­tries would con­trib­ute to cri­sis man­age­ment, or if it would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and es­ca­la­tory. Fur­ther­more, de­ploy­ing to asia, europe also risks weak­en­ing its de­ter­rence ca­pa­bil­i­ties to­ward Rus­sia.

A Euro­pean non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity en­gage­ment

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