Why is Europe able to man­age its de­cline, while Asia is (still) un­able to cap­i­tal­ize (on) its suc­cesses

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Prof. Anis H. Ba­jrek­tare­vic

How to draw the line be­tween the re­cent and still un­set­tled EU/EURO cri­sis and Asia’s suc­cess story? Well, it might be eas­ier than it seems: Nei­ther Europe nor Asia has any al­ter­na­tive. The dif­fer­ence is that Europe well knows there is no al­ter­na­tive – and there­fore is mul­ti­lat­eral. Asia thinks it has an al­ter­na­tive – and there­fore is strik­ingly bilateral, while stub­bornly re­sid­ing en­veloped in eco­nomic ego­isms. No won­der that Europe is/will be able to man­age its de­cline, while Asia is (still) un­able to cap­i­tal­ize its suc­cesses. Asia clearly does not ac­cedpt any more the lead of the postin­dus­trial and post-Chris­tian Europe, but is not ready for the post-West world. Fol­low­ing the fa­mous say­ing al­legedly spelled by Kissinger: “Europe? Give me a name and a phone num­ber!” (when – back in early 1970s – urged by Pres­i­dent Nixon to in­form Euro­peans on the par­tic­u­lar US pol­icy ac­tion), the au­thor is try­ing to ex­am­ine how close is Asia to have its own tele­phone num­ber. By con­trast­ing and com­par­ing ge­n­e­sis of mul­ti­lat­eral se­cu­rity struc­tures in Europe with those cur­rently ex­ist­ing in Asia, and by list­ing some of the most press­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges in Asia, this pol­icy pa­per of­fers sev­eral pol­icy in­cen­tives why the largest world’s con­ti­nent must con­sider cre­ation of the com­pre­hen­sive pan-Asian in­sti­tu­tion. Pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity struc­tures in Asia are bilateral and mostly asym­met­ric while Europe en­joys mul­ti­lat­eral, bal­anced and sym­met­ric set­ups (Amer­i­can and African con­ti­nents too). Au­thor goes as far as to claim that ir­re­spec­tive to the im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth, no Asian cen­tury will emerge with­out cre­ation of such an in­sti­tu­tion. For over a decade, many of the rel­e­vant aca­demic jour­nals are full of ar­ti­cles proph­e­siz­ing the 21st as the Asian cen­tury. The ar­gu­ment is usu­ally based on the im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth, in­creased pro­duc­tion and trade vol­umes as well as the boom­ing for­eign cur­rency re­serves and ex­ports of many pop­u­lous Asian na­tions, with nearly 1/3 of to­tal world pop­u­la­tion in­hab­it­ing just two coun­tries of the largest world’s con­ti­nent. How­ever, his­tory serves as a pow­er­ful re­minder by warn­ing us that eco­nom­i­cally or/and de­mo­graph­i­cally mighty grav­ity cen­ters tend to ex­pand into their pe­riph­eries, es­pe­cially when the pe­riph­ery is weaker by ei­ther cat­e­gory. It means that any ab­so­lute or rel­a­tive shift in eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic strength of one sub­ject of in­ter­na­tional relations will in­evitably put ad­di­tional stress on the ex­ist­ing power equi­lib­ri­ums and con­stel­la­tions that sup­port this bal­ance in the par­tic­u­lar the­ater of im­plicit or ex­plicit struc­ture.

Les­sons of the Past

Thus, what is the state of art of Asia’s se­cu­rity struc­tures? What is the ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity of pre­ven­tive diplo­macy and what in­stru­ments are at dis­posal when it comes to early in the Asian the­ater? While all other ma­jor the­aters do have the pan-con­ti­nen­tal set­tings in place al­ready for many decades, such as the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States – OAS (Amer­i­can con­ti­nent), African Union – AU (Africa), Coun­cil of Europe and Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe – OSCE (Europe), the state-of-arts of the largest world’s con­ti­nent is glance, is the ab­sence of any pan-Asian se­cu­rity/ mul­ti­lat­eral struc­ture. Pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity struc­tures are bilateral and and en­dur­ing non-ag­gres­sion se­cu­rity treaties, through less for­mal ar­range­ments, up to the Ad hoc co­op­er­a­tion ac­cords set­tings is lim­ited to a very few spots in the largest con­ti­nent, and even then, they are rarely man­dated with se­cu­rity is­sues in their de­clared scope of work. An­other strik­ing fea­ture is that most of the ex­ist­ing bilateral struc­tures have an Asian state on one side, and ei­ther pe­riph­eral or ex­ter­nal pro­tégé coun­try

asym­met­ric. The ex­am­ples are nu­mer­ous: the US–Ja­pan, the US– S. Korea, the US–Sin­ga­pore, Rus­sia–In­dia, Aus­tralia– East Ti­mor, Rus­sia–North Korea, Ja­pan –Malaysia, China– Pak­istan, the US–Pak­istan, China–Cam­bo­dia, the US–Saudi Ara­bia, Rus­sia –Iran, China–Burma, In­dia–Mal­dives, Iran– Syria, N. Korea–Pak­istan, etc. In­deed, Asia to­day res­onates a mixed echo of the Euro­pean past. It com­bines fea­tures of the pre-Napoleonic, postNapoleonic and the League-of-Na­tions Europe. What are the use­ful les­sons from the Euro­pean past? Well, there are a few, for sure. Bis­marck ac­com­mo­dated the ex­po­nen­tial eco­nomic, de­mo­graphic and mil­i­tary growth as well as the ter­ri­to­rial ex­pan­sion of Prus­sia by skill­fully ar­chi­tec­tur­ing and cal­i­brat­ing the com­plex net­works of bilateral se­cu­rity ar­range­ments of 19th cen­tury Europe. Like Asia to­day, it was not an in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized se­cu­rity struc­ture of Europe, but a tal­ented lead­er­ship ex­er­cis­ing re­straint and wis­dom in com­bi­na­tion with the quick as­sertive­ness and fast mil­i­tary ab­sorp­tions, con­cluded by the last­ing en­durance. How­ever, as soon as the new Kaiser re­moved the Iron Chan­cel­lor (Bis­marck), the pro­vin­cial and back­ward–minded, in­se­cure and mil­i­tant Prus­sian es­tab­lish­ment con­tested (by their own in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Ger­man’s macht­poli­tik and welt­poli­tik poli­cies) Europe and the world in two dev­as­tat­ing world wars. That, as well as Hitler’s es­tab­lish­ment af­ter­wards, sim­ply did not know what to do with a pow­er­ful Ger­many. The as­pi­ra­tions and con­stel­la­tions of some of Asia’s pow­ers to­day re­mind us also of the pre-Napoleonic Europe, in which con­tested by the im­pa­tient chal­lengers of the sta­tus quo. Such se­ri­ous cen­tripetal and cen­trifu­gal os­cil­la­tions of Europe were not with­out grave de­vi­a­tions: as much as Car­di­nal Riche­lieu’s and Ja­cobin’s France suc­cess­fully eman­ci­pated it­self, the Napoleon III and pre-WWII France en­cir­cled, iso­lated it­self, im­plic­itly lay­ing the foun­da­tion for the Ger­man at­tack. Fi­nally, the ex­ist­ing Asian re­gional set­tings also re­sem­ble the of Europe be­tween the Vi­enna Congress of 1815 and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary year of 1848. At any rate, let us take a quick look at the most rel­e­vant re­gional set­tings in Asia.

Mul­ti­lat­eral con­stel­la­tions

for mem­ber economies not of sov­er­eign na­tions, a sort of a prep-com or wait­ing room for the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion – WTO. To use the words of one se­nior Sin­ga­pore diplo­mat who re­cently told me in Geneva the fol­low­ing: “what is your op­tion here? ...to sign the Free Trade Agree­ment (FTA), side up with the US, lo­gin to Face­Book, and keep shop­ping on the in­ter­net hap­pily ever af­ter…” Two other cross­cut­ting set­tings, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion – OIC and Non-Aligned Move­ment – NAM, rep­re­sent the well-es­tab­lished po­lit­i­cal mul­ti­lat­eral bod­ies. How­ever, they are in­ad­e­quate fo­rums as nei­ther of the two is strictly man­dated with se­cu­rity is­sues. Although both transcon­ti­nen­tal en­ti­ties do have large mem­ber­ships be­ing the 2nd and 3rd largest mul­ti­lat­eral sys­tems, right af­ter the UN, nei­ther cov­ers the en­tire Asian po­lit­i­cal land­scape – hav­ing im­por­tant Asian coun­tries out­side the system or op­pos­ing it. Fur­ther on, one should men­tion the Korean Penin­sula En­ergy Devel­op­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion – KEDO (Nu­clear) and the Iran­re­lated Con­tact (Quar­tet/P-5+1) Group. In both cases, the is­sues dealt with are in­deed se­cu­rity re­lated, but they are more an asym­met­ric ap­proach to de­ter and con­tain a sin­gle coun­try by the larger front of pe­riph­eral states that are op­pos­ing a par­tic­u­lar se­cu­rity pol­icy, in this case, of North Korea and of Iran. Same was with the short-lived SEATO Pact – a de­fense treaty or­ga­ni­za­tion for SEA which was es­sen­tially dis­solved as soon as the im­mi­nent threat from com­mu­nism was slowed down and suc­cess­fully con­tained within the French In­dochina.

If some of the set­tings are rem­i­nis­cent of the pre-Napoleonic Europe, the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion – SCO and Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil for the Arab states of the Gulf – GCC re­mind us of the post-Napoleonic Europe and its Al­liance of the East­ern Con­ser­va­tive courts (of Met­ter­nich). Both ar­range­ments were cre­ated on a pre­text of a com­mon ex­ter­nal ide­o­log­i­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal threat, on a shared sta­tus quo se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tion. Asym­met­ric GCC was an ex­ter­nally in­duced set­ting by which an Amer­i­can key Mid­dle East ally Saudi Ara­bia gath­ered the group­ing of the Ara­bian Penin­sula monar­chies. It has served a dual pur­pose; orig­i­nally, to con­tain the left­ist Nasseris­tic pan-Ara­bism which was in­tro­duc­ing a repub­li­can type of egal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment in the Mid­dle East­ern the­ater. It was also – af­ter the 1979 rev­o­lu­tion – an in­stru­ment to counter-bal­ance the Ira­nian to the spring 2011-13 tur­moil in the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing the de­ploy­ment of the Saudi troops in Bahrain, and in­clud­ing backed Al Jazeera TV net­work is the best proof of the very na­ture of the GCC man­date. The SCO is in­ter­nally in­duced and more sym­met­ric set­ting. Es­sen­tially, it came into ex­is­tence through a strate­gic Sino his­tory, on par­ity, to de­ter ex­ter­nal as­pi­rants (the US, Ja­pan, Korea, In­dia, Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia) and to keep the re­sources, ter­ri­tory, present so­cio-eco­nomic cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal regime in the Cen­tral Asia, Ti­bet heights and the Xin­jiang Uighur prov­ince in line. The next to con­sider is the In­dian sub-con­ti­nent’s group­ing, the South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion

– SAARC. This or­ga­ni­za­tion has a well-es­tab­lished man­date, well staffed and versed Sec­re­tariat. How­ever, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion is strik­ingly rem­i­nis­cent of the League of Na­tions. The League is re­mem­bered as an al­tru­is­tic setup which re­peat­edly failed to ad­e­quately re­spond to the se­cu­rity quests of its mem­bers as well as to the chal­lenges and pres­sures of par­ties that were kept out of the system (e.g. Rus­sia un­til well into the 1930s and the US re­main­ing com­pletely out­side the system, and in the case of the SAARC sur­round­ing; China, Saudi Ara­bia and the US). The SAARC is prac­ti­cally a hostage of mega con­fronta­tion of its two Pak­istan. Th­ese two chal­lenge each other geopo­lit­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally. Ex­is­tence of one is a nega­tion of the ex­is­tence of the other; the re­li­giously de­ter­mined na­tion­hood of Pak­istan is a nega­tion of mul­ti­eth­nic In­dia and vice verse. Ad­di­tion­ally, the SAARC although in­ter­nally in­duced is an asym­met­ric or­ga­ni­za­tion. It is not only the size of In­dia, but also its po­si­tion: cen­tral­ity of that coun­try makes SAARC di­rect con­sent of In­dia, be it com­merce, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pol­i­tics or se­cu­rity. For a se­ri­ous ad­vance­ment of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism, mu­tual trust, a will to com­pro­mise and achieve a com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor through ac­tive co-ex­is­tence is the key. It is hard to build a com­mon course of ac­tion around the dis­pro­por­tion­ately big and cen­trally po­si­tioned mem­ber which would es­cape the in­ter­pre­ta­tion as con­tain­ment by the big or as­sertive­ness of its cen­ter by the smaller, pe­riph­eral mem­bers.

Fi­nally, there is an ASEAN – a group­ing of 10 South­east Asian na­tions, ex­er­cis­ing the bal­anced multi-vec­tor pol­icy, based on the non-in­ter­fer­ence prin­ci­ple, in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally. This, Jakarta/In­done­sia head­quar­tered or­ga­ni­za­tion has a dy­namic past and an am­bi­tious cur­rent char­ter. It is an in­ter­nally in­duced and rel­a­tively sym­met­ric ar­range­ment with the strong­est mem­bers placed around its ge­o­graphic cen­ter, like in case of the EU equi­lib­rium with Ger­many-France/Bri­tain-Italy/Poland-Spain ge­o­graph­i­cally bal­anc­ing each other. Sit­u­ated on the ge­o­graphic axis of the tri­an­gle of Thai­land-Malaysia-In­done­sia rep­re­sents the core of the ASEAN not only in eco­nomic and com­mu­ni­ca­tion terms but also by its po­lit­i­cal lever­age. The EU-like ASEAN Com­mu­nity Road Map (for 2015) will ab­sorb most of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s en­ergy. How­ever, the ASEAN has man­aged to open its fo­rums for the 3+3 group/s, and could be seen in the long run as a cu­mu­lus set­ting to­wards the wider panAsian fo­rum in fu­ture. Be­fore clos­ing this brief over­view, let us men­tion two re­cently in­au­gu­rated in­for­mal fo­rums, both based on the ex­ter­nal calls for a bur­den shar­ing. One, with a jin­go­is­tic-coined name by the Wall Street bankers - BRI(I)C/S, so far in­cludes two im­por­tant Asian eco­nomic, de­mo­graphic and po­lit­i­cal pow­er­houses (In­dia and China), and one pe­riph­eral (Rus­sia). In­done­sia, Turkey, Saudi Ara­bia, Pak­istan, Kaza­khstan, Iran are a few ad­di­tional Asian coun­tries whose na­tional pride and prag­matic in­ter­ests are ad­vo­cat­ing a BRIC mem­ber­ship. The G–20, the other in­for­mal fo­rum, is also as­sem­bled on the Ad hoc (pro bono) ba­sis fol­low­ing the need of the G–7 to achieve a larger ap­proval and sup­port for its mone­tary Nev­er­the­less, the BRIC and G-20 have not pro­vided the Asian par­tic­i­pat­ing states ei­ther with the more lever­age in the Bret­ton Woods in­sti­tu­tions be­sides a bur­den shar­ing, or have they helped to tackle the in­dige­nous Asian se­cu­rity prob­lems. Ap­peal­ing for the na­tional pride, how­ever, both in­for­mal gath­er­ings may di­vert the nec­es­sary re­sources and at­ten­tion to Asian states from their press­ing do­mes­tic, pan­con­ti­nen­tal is­sues. Yet, be­sides the UN system ma­chin­ery of the Genev­abased Dis­ar­ma­ment com­mit­tee, the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons – OPCW and In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency – IAEA (or CTBTO), even the ASEAN Asians (as the most mul­ti­lat­er­al­ized Asians) have no suit­able stand­ing fo­rum to tackle and solve their se­cu­rity is­sues. An or­ga­ni­za­tion sim­i­lar to the Coun­cil of Europe or the OSCE is still far from emerg­ing on Asian soil. Our his­tory warns. Nev­er­the­less, it also pro­vides a hope: The pre-CSCE (pre-Helsinki) Europe was in­deed a dan­ger­ous place to live in. The sharp geopo­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal de­fault line was pass­ing through the very heart of Europe, cut­ting it into halves. The south­ern Europe was prac­ti­cally sealed off by no­to­ri­ous dic­ta­tor­ships; in Greece (Colonel Junta), Spain (Franco) and Por­tu­gal (Salazar), with Turkey wit­ness­ing sev­eral of its gov­ern­ments top­pled by the sec­u­lar and om­nipo­tent mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment, with in­verted Al­ba­nia and a (non-Europe minded) non-al­lied, Tito’s Yu­goslavia. Two pow­er­ful in­stru­ments of the US mil­i­tary pres­ence (NATO) and of the Sovi­ets (War­saw pact) in Europe were keep­ing huge stand­ing armies, enor­mous stock­piles of con­ven­tional as well as the ABC weaponry and de­liv­ery sys­tems, prac­ti­cally next to each other. By far and large, Euro­pean bor­ders were not mu­tu­ally rec­og­nized. Es­sen­tially, the west re­jected to even rec­og­nize many of the East­ern Euro­pean, Soviet dom­i­nated/ in­stalled gov­ern­ments.

Ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes un­re­solved

Cur­rently in Asia, there is hardly a sin­gle state which has no ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute within its neigh­bor­hood. From the Mid­dle East, Caspian and Cen­tral Asia, In­dian sub-con­ti­nent, main­land In­dochina or Ar­chi­pel­ago SEA, Ti­bet, South China Sea and the Far East, many coun­tries are suf­fer­ing nu­mer­ous green and blue bor­der dis­putes. The South China Sea solely counts for over a dozen ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes – in which mostly China presses pe­riph­eries to break free from the long-last­ing en­cir­clement. Th­ese moves are of­ten in­ter­preted by the

neigh­bors as dan­ger­ous as­sertive­ness. On the top of that Sea re­sides a huge econ­omy and in­su­lar ter­ri­tory in a le­gal limbo – Tai­wan, which waits for a time when the pan-Asian and intl. agree­ment on how many Chi­nas Asia should have, gains a wide and last­ing con­sen­sus. Un­solved ter­ri­to­rial is­sues, spo­radic ir­re­den­tism, ex­ploita­tion of and ac­cess to the marine biota, other nat­u­ral re­sources in­clud­ing fresh wa­ter ac­cess and sup­ply are pos­ing enor­mous stress on ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity, safety and sta­bil­ity in Asia. Ad­di­tional stress comes from the newly emerg­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, that are rep­re­sent­ing nearly of Tu­valu, but also to the Mal­dives, Bangladesh, Cam­bo­dia, parts of Thai­land, of In­done­sia, of Kaza­khstan and of the Philip­pines, etc. All this com­bined with un­even eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic dy­nam­ics of the con­ti­nent are por­tray­ing Asia as a real pow­der keg. It is ab­so­lutely in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­pare the size of Asia and Europe – the lat­ter be­ing rather an ex­ten­sion of a huge Asian con­ti­nen­tal land­mass, a sort of west­ern Asian penin­sula – but the in­ter­state ma­neu­ver­ing space is com­pa­ra­ble. Yet, the space be­tween the ma­jor pow­ers of post-Napoleonic Europe was as equally nar­row for any ma­neu­ver as is the space to­day for any se­cu­rity ma­neu­ver of Ja­pan, China, In­dia, Pak­istan, Iran and the like. Let us also take a brief look at the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of the nu­clear con­stel­la­tions in Asia. Fol­low­ing the his­toric analo­gies; it echoes the age of the Amer­i­can nu­clear mo­nop­oly and the years of Rus­sia’s des­per­a­tion to achieve the par­ity. Be­sides hold­ing huge stock­piles of con­ven­tional weaponry and nu­mer­ous stand­ing armies, Asia is a home of four (plus pe­riph­eral Rus­sia and Israel) of the nine known nu­clear pow­ers (de­clared and un­de­clared). Only China and Rus­sia are par­ties to the Non-pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty – NPT. North Korea walked away in 2003, whereas In­dia and Pak­istan both also the only con­ti­nent on which nu­clear weaponry has been de­ployed.

Cold War ex­iled in Asia

As is well known, the peak of the Cold War was marked by the mega geopo­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal con­fronta­tion of the two nu­clear su­per­pow­ers whose stock­piles by far out­num­bered the stock­piles of all the other nu­clear pow­ers com­bined. How­ever enigmatic, mys­te­ri­ous and in­cal­cu­la­ble to each other, the Amer­i­cans and Sovi­ets were on op­po­site sides of the globe, had no ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes, and no record as each of the hold­ers has a his­tory of hos­til­i­ties – armed fric­tions and con­fronta­tions over un­solved ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes along the shared bor­ders, all com­bined with the in­ten­sive and last­ing ide­o­log­i­cal ri­val­ries. The Soviet Union had bit­ter trans­bor­der armed fric­tions with China over the de­mar­ca­tion of its long land bor­der. China has fought a war with In­dia and four mu­tu­ally ex­tortive wars with Pak­istan over Kashmir and other dis­puted bor­der­ing re­gions. Fi­nally, the Korean penin­sula has wit­nessed the di­rect mil­i­tary con­fronta­tions of Ja­pan, USSR, Chi­nese as well as the US on its very soil, and re­mains a split nation un­der a sharp ide­o­log­i­cal di­vide. On the west­ern edge of the Eurasian con­ti­nent, nei­ther France, Bri­tain, Rus­sia nor the US had a (re­cent) his­tory of Fi­nally, only In­dia and now post-Soviet Rus­sia have a strict and full civil­ian con­trol over its mil­i­tary and the nu­clear de­ploy­ment au­tho­riza­tion. In the case of North Korea and China, it is in the hands of an un­pre­dictable and non­trans­par­ent com­mu­nist lead­er­ship – mean­ing, it re­sides out­side demo­cratic, gov­ern­men­tal de­ci­sion-mak­ing. In Pak­istan, it is com­pletely in the hands of a po­lit­i­cally om­nipresent mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment. Pak­istan has lived un­der a di­rect mil­i­tary rule for over half of its ex­is­tence as an in­de­pen­dent state. What even­tu­ally kept the US and the USSR from de­ploy­ing nu­clear weapons was the dan­ger­ous and costly strug­gle called: “mu­tual de­struc­tion as­sur­ance”. Al­ready by the late 1950s, both sides achieved par­ity in the num­ber and type of

nu­clear war­heads as well as in the num­ber and pre­ci­sion of their de­liv­ery sys­tems. Both sides pro­duced enough war­heads, de­liv­ery sys­tems’ se­cret de­pots and launch­ing sites to am­ply ca­pa­bil­ity. Once com­pre­hend­ing that nei­ther the pre­ven­tive nor pre­emp­tive nu­clear strike would bring a de­ci­sive vic­tory and en­sure to­tal mu­tual de­struc­tion, the Amer­i­cans and the Sovi­ets have achieved a fear–equi­lib­rium through the haz­ardous de­ter­rence. Thus, it was not an in­tended ar­ma­ment rush (for par­ity), but the non-in­tended Mu­tual As­sur­ance De­struc­tion – MAD – with its tran­quil­iz­ing ef­fect of paci­fy­ing sta­bil­ity be­tween two con­fronting su­per­pow­ers. Hence, MAD pre­vented nu­clear war, but did not dis­arm the su­per­pow­ers. As noted, the nu­clear stock­piles in Asia are con­sid­er­ably mod­est. The num­ber of war­heads, launch­ing sites and to of­fer the sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity. That fact se­ri­ously com­pro­mises sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity: pre­ven­tive or pre­emp­tive N–strike against a nu­clear or non-nu­clear state could be con­tem­plated as de­ci­sive, es­pe­cially in South Asia and on the Korean penin­sula, not to men­tion the Mid­dle East. A gen­eral wis­dom of geopol­i­tics as­sumes the po­ten­tial­ity of threat by ex­am­in­ing the de­gree of in­ten­sions and ca­pa­bil­ity of bel­liger­ents. How­ever, in Asia this the­ory does not nec­es­sar­ily hold the com­plete truth: Close ge­o­graphic prox­im­i­ties of which ul­ti­mately gives a very brief de­ci­sion-mak­ing pe­riod to en­gaged ad­ver­saries. Be­sides a de­lib­er­ate, a se­ri­ous danger of an ac­ci­den­tal nu­clear war is there­fore ev­i­dent.

Mul­ti­lat­eral mech­a­nisms

One of the great­est thinkers and hu­man­ists of the 20th cen­tury, Erich Fromm wrote: “…man can only go for­ward There is cer­tainly a long road from vi­sion and wis­dom to a clear po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment and ac­corded ac­tion. How­ever, once it is achieved, the op­er­a­tional tools are read­ily at dis­posal. The case of Helsinki Europe is very in­struc­tive. To be frank, it was the over-ex­ten­sion of the su­per­pow­ers who con­tested one an­other all over the globe, which even­tu­ally brought them to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble. Im­por­tantly, it was also a con­stant, res­o­lute call of the Euro­pean pub­lic that alerted gov­ern­ments on both sides of the de­fault line. Once the po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions were set­tled, the tech­ni­cal­i­ties Euro­pean recog­ni­tion of bor­ders which tran­quil­ized ten­sions lit­er­ally overnight. Politico-mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion was sit­u­ated joint mil­i­tary in­spec­tions, ex­change mech­a­nisms, con­stant build­ing mea­sures mech­a­nism, and the stand­ing panel of state rep­re­sen­ta­tives (the so-called Per­ma­nent Coun­cil). Fur­ther on, an im­por­tant clear­ing house was sit­u­ated in the so-called sec­ond bas­ket – the fo­rum that links the eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, items so press­ing in Asia at the mo­ment. Ad­mit­tedly, the III OSCE Bas­ket was a source of many con­tro­ver­sies in the past years, mostly over the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of man­dates. How­ever, the new wave of na­tion­al­ism, of­ten re­plac­ing the fad­ing com­mu­nism, the emo­tional charges and resid­ual fears of the past, the huge on­go­ing for­ma­tion will in­evitably chal­lenge es­tab­lished elites do­mes­ti­cally and ques­tion their poli­cies in­ter­na­tion­ally, and a re­lated search for a new so­cial con­sen­sus – all that could be suc­cess­fully tack­led by some sort of an Asian III bas­ket. Clearly, fur­ther so­cio-eco­nomic growth in Asia is im­pos­si­ble with­out the cre­ation and mo­bi­liza­tion of a strong mid­dle class – a seg­ment of so­ci­ety which when ap­pear­ing anew on the so­cio-po­lit­i­cal hori­zon is tra­di­tion­ally very ex­posed and vul­ner­a­ble to po­lit­i­cal mis­deeds and dis­rup­tive shifts. At any rate, there are sev­eral OSCE ob­serv­ing na­tions from Asia; from Thai­land to Korea and Ja­pan, with In­done­sia, a nation that cur­rently the par­tic­i­pa­tion. Con­se­quently, the largest con­ti­nent should con­sider the cre­ation of its own com­pre­hen­sive pan-Asian mul­ti­lat­eral mech­a­nism. In do­ing so, it can surely rest on the vi­sion and spirit of Helsinki. On the very in­sti­tu­tional setup, Asia can closely re­visit the well-en­vi­sioned SAARC and am­bi­tiously em­pow­ered ASEAN fora. By ex­am­in­ing th­ese two re­gional bal­ance be­tween widen­ing and deep­en­ing of the se­cu­rity man­date of such fu­ture mul­ti­lat­eral or­ga­ni­za­tion – given the num­ber of states as well as the grav­ity of the press­ing so­ciopo­lit­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tal and politico-mil­i­tary chal­lenges. In the age of un­prece­dented suc­cess and the un­par­al­leled pros­per­ity of Asia, an in­dige­nous mul­ti­lat­eral panAsian ar­range­ment presents it­self as an op­por­tu­nity. Con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing Hegel’s fa­mous say­ing that “free­dom is… an in­sight into ne­ces­sity” let me close by stat­ing that a need for the do­mes­ti­cated pan-Asian or­ga­ni­za­tion warns by its ur­gency too. Clearly, there is no eman­ci­pa­tion of the con­ti­nent; there is no Asian cen­tury, with­out the pan-Asian mul­ti­lat­eral set­ting.

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