Policy Proposal

In the aftermath of 9/11, new challenges are posed by non-state actors, the growing instability in the Muslim world, political shifts in northeast Asia and the accelerated proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Meeting these challenges will require significant adjustments in the force posture and the modernization and investment priorities of the U. S. armed forces. In particular, more attention will need to be paid to managing challenges at the low end of the conflict spectrum and to post-conflict reconstruction. While the Bush Administration has taken some steps to adapt U. S.

defense policy to meet these new challenges, discontinuities in several regions, especially northeast Asia and the Middle East, require more far-reaching shifts in the U. S. defense posture. Domestic factors, especially the growing budget deficits, could also affect the readiness of the American public to support large increases in the defense budget. Thus the new strategic challenges may have to be addressed in a defense environment that is far less propitious than the one that has existed until now, making starker defense choices necessary. The South Korean model brings profound questions on the role of U. S.

overseas bases throughout the world. There has long been strenuous opposition in Korea to the U. S. military presence which continues to this day. Prostitution, acts of rape committed by U. S. military personnel, environmental degradation and health hazards, together with challenges to national sovereignty are merely the tip of the iceberg the proliferation of U. S. bases create. Though the U. S. military is currently realigning its base structure in Asia and elsewhere, its presence in South Korea and Northeast Asia in general has led to strenuous relations and tensions hampering the reunification with North Korea, aside from the U. S.

occupation as directly and indirectly thwarting the development of democracy with its tacit approval of a brutal military dictatorship by strongman Syngman Rhee lasting over three decades in South Korea. Historical accounts lay bare almost six decades of U. S. military occupation of South Korea which has inflicted misfortune and pain on the divided people of the Korean nation under the pretext of "disarming the Japanese troops. " The U. S. occupation has been criticized for running counter to the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations which called for independence and sovereignty of Korea, the Korean Armistice Agreement and even the UN resolution.

Its continuing presence in Korean soil despite the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union throw light into claims of American imperialism. There is indeed a need for security provision to be top priority and a necessary pre-condition for the successful implementation of security sector programs in post-conflict situations, as in the case of South Korea. At the same time, security sector programs in pacified areas have to be pursued in tandem with attempts to put an end to the violence in conflict zones and to draw combatants into an emerging nation-wide consensus on rules for the use of force (Law, 2006, p.

2). It is also important to note that in the post-conflict environment, security sector restructuring generally has to proceed before any legitimization of the process through elections can be undertaken. Security sector programs in post-conflict situations usually grow out of peace support operations and are therefore likely to be dominated by donor countries that have also been involved in the conflict environment as providers of military forces (Law, 2006, 2).

As the South Korean case illustrates, the foreign presence generally has a strong military element, reflecting the continuing need to address the security situation as (re)construction efforts come underway, as well as the fact that the military are more capable of delivering programs designed to build up or reorganize armed forces and more accustomed to operating in violence-ridden areas.

The important role of the military in the initial intervention in South Korea also demonstrated how defense-capacity building projects have been initially given top priority over the (re)construction of other security sector actors or capacity-building in the legislative or judicial areas as the donor programs unfolded. This role however, has significantly dwindled following South Korea’s economic development and democratic transition, thus laying bare to criticisms the continuing presence of a large U. S. host in the country following the end of the Cold War.

Another important consideration is that in post-conflict situations, the responsibilities of those intervening in the country can prove to be extremely far-reaching (Moore, 2006, 3). In the case of the U. S. presence in South Korea, U. S. political clout has to some extent shaped domestic policies in South Korea with its push for legal and market reforms, liberalization and the institution of democratic structures and processes, though credit is due to the crafty Korean political leaders who have managed to keep U.

S. influence in running the country at bay. South Korea in contemporary texts has often been described as having a strong state, which has had relative success in resisting societal and external pressure in pursuing policy. Though considerable progress has been made in constructing a new security order in Asia, fundamental differences exist over the goals and values of the new order, and the necessary pathways needed to sustain it (Alagappa, 2003).

For Alagappa (2003, 72), initially these differences were rooted in competing value systems (Asian political-economic models in contrast to universally-claimed Western ones), the dominant belief of a strategic power shift from the United States and Western Europe to Asia, and the ensuing anticipation of an end to American hegemony as the world becomes multi-polar.

America’s preponderant power might be widely (even begrudgingly) acknowledged yet its strategic dominance and vision for a global and regional order evokes a mixed response throughout Asia. The liberal political values of the American vision still create apprehension and resentment in several Asian countries, with various reactions to the continuing strategic dominance of the U. S. and its hegemonic vision for global and regional order.

Primacy is the avowed goal of George W. Bush’s administration, emphasizing geopolitical competition while downplaying idealist elements prominent in his predecessor’s vision (Alagappa, 2003). As Alagappa (2003, 73) notes, “…with a preference for unilateralism over multilateralism and cooperative security, it initially sought to disengage the United States from roles of regional conflict mediation and nation building. ” The 9/11 terror attacks on the U. S.

might have modified certain aspects yet Alagappa (2003, 73) maintains that its policy of primacy and unilateralism appears to have been fundamentally unaltered. The U. S. envisions Asia, particularly Northeast Asia, together with Europe and the Western hemisphere, as vital to American security and economic interests, with a closed and hostile Asia deemed inimical to Americans security (Ibid). Washington has sought to expand the international order rooted in Western values to make it a truly global order under U. S. leadership.

Key features of this vision include American predominance and leadership, the development of market-based national economies integrated into a global capitalist economy, promotion of human rights and democracy, and a regional security system anchored in a network of American alliances (The White House, 1996). Since the 1940s, a key goal of Washington has been the prevention of dominance of any single power in East Asia. The 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review Report (DOD, 2001) of the Bush administration emphasizes enduring national interest in precluding “hostile domination of critical areas. ”

This vision is based on liberal values fostering free market systems, regional trade, investment regimes compatible with global regimes, while opposing initiatives like the creation of the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) and the Asian Monetary Fund (AMF) which would be exclusively Asian, and with the potential to undermine global institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in which the U. S. has virtual veto power (Alagappa, 2003, 74-75). In addition, Washington rejects the notion of Asian values and the accompanying claim of democracy and human rights as unsuitable to Asia and its regimes.

Instead, it claims that democratic aspirations and achievements of Asian peoples undermine the relativist claims of certain Asian elites, expressed through its determination in promoting human rights and democratic governance in China, Burma, North Korea, among other countries. Although the United States has preponderant power and plays a crucial role in the management of security affairs, particularly in Northeast Asia, it has not been able to impose its notion of order on the region (Alagappa, 2003, 77).

It would seem that its three conceptions of order – hegemony with liberal features, strategic condominium, and normative-contractual conception – coexist uneasily with only minimum integration and no clear division of labor. The competing features of these three concepts generate tension and frustrate the development of a comprehensive and legitimate security order in Asia, making it difficult to decide which features are stabilizing and which are not (Alagappa, 2003, 77), which account for the ad hoc manner in which security affairs in the region such as the 1993 ‘second nuclear crisis’ on the Korean peninsula are managed.

Political survival in its four distinct but related aspects – sheer existence as an independent state, territorial integrity, ideational survival including preservation of national identity and political organizing ideology, and preservation of sovereignty – is a major concern of both North and South Korea. With cross-recognition and membership of both Koreas in the United Nations, altered interests and distribution of power in the Korean conflict, the immediate issue is not the disappearance of one state through the painful absorption by the other.

Instead, it appears to be the building of confidence, preventing the outbreak of accidental war, controlling nuclear and missile proliferation, fostering the normalization of relations between North and South, integrating North Korea into the global community, and preventing turmoil and collapse in the North (Alagappa 2003, 79-80). Given that the democratic consolidation in South Korea is still incomplete and the political system in North Korea is a target of internal and international contestation, several key issues need to be addressed in connection with the ideational survival, i.

e. the identity of the nation-state and its system of political governance, of these states: Does the international community have an obligation in promoting a specific system of governance or should it steer clear of domestic issues and conflicts? If it does have an obligation, what is the accompanying responsibility? And how should principles and norms such as sovereignty, non-interference in domestic affairs, be reconciled with competing notions such as the right to self-determination and protection of individual and minority rights?

These concerns are closely linked with sovereignty, as most Asian states have been liberated from colonial or semi-colonial rule, and many are still engaged in nation-and-state-building, which accounts for the zealous guarding of their right to supreme jurisdiction in domestic affairs and autonomous decision-making in international concerns (Alagappa, 2003, 82). Firmly wedded to this principle of non-interference in internal affairs, both North and South Korea feel challenged by the norm of justified intervention advocated by the West, with the U. S.

in no way reluctant in acting unilaterally when its rights and interests are endangered, and loath to place American troops under foreign national or multilateral command. A key challenge is thus the forging of a common understanding of meaning and limits of sovereignty and associated norms. Sovereignty and the accompanying principles of juridical equality and non-interference in domestic affairs are defining principles of international relations throughout the world in the post-World War II era, enshrined in the charter of the United Nations (Alagappa, 2003).

The principle of non-interference however has been challenged by the rise of liberal norms from within (be segments of civil society) and from without (largely by the West), as the aftermath of the Cold War brought to the fore concern for protection of human rights, prevention of discrimination and persecution of minorities, prevention of genocide, and promotion of liberal-democratic governance and market-based economies, projected as universal in application.

It is however, important to note that the provision of domestic order and protection of citizen’s rights are responsibilities of the national government, treated by the international community as internal matters in the exclusive preserve of the state. The primary concern of the international community is mitigating the dangers of external aspects of that sovereignty. In light of this, the proposal for the U. S.

to gradually reduce its military presence in South Korea holds merit, as stability and order in the region would be more easily facilitated with a shift from the American imperialist mentality of maintaining its hegemony to one of reinforcing multilateral capabilities for conflict-resolution and regional diffusion of tension in post-conflict areas. Peace and stability, as Moon and Chun (2003) argue, can only be achieved when countries in the region (in this case, Northeast Asia), attain a normative-contractual order.

This liberal transition will materialize upon meeting three conditions: capitalist peace democratic peace and a community of security. Capitalist peace becomes plausible when the spread of free-market mechanisms eliminates the potential for interstate conflict (Moon and Chun, 2003, 132). Deepening market interdependence in the region can reduce the likelihood of war and improve chances for peace (Morse, 1976) as the expansion of markets create vested commercial interests across borders who would oppose outbreaks of war that might undermine their wealth.

The second condition suggests a democratic polity can prevent war with its assurance of openness, transparency and domestic checks and balances in the management of foreign and defense policy. As an extension of the two, forming a community of security through shared norms and values, common domestic institutions and high levels of interdependence (Adler and Barnett, 1998) is fostered by a market economy and democratic polity.

Collaboration needs to be fostered through shared values and interests, with regional security cooperation to be more actively sought by creating tight institutional arrangements involving collective security such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, with less involvement of American interests in the picture. Intervention by invitation poses a lesser problem to regional stability, whereas intervention by imposition presupposes military conflict between intervened and intervener, destabilizing

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