Asia Pacific Security

Editor:        Leszek Buszynski asia-pacific-security

ISBN:           978-0-415-82880-2

Publisher: Routledge

Year:          2014

Price:         £900.00


Reviewed by Eyal Ben-Ari, Kinneret Center for Society, Security and Peace, Kinneret Academic College (Israel)

It has become a commonplace statement that much of our global future revolves around the major players that are active in the broad region called Asia. The sheer economic and political power concentrated in the region as well as its many potentially volatile trouble spots make it an area that is and will become even more of global significance. From the point of view of governments, international institutions (global and regional) and a variety of NGOs and NPOs future challenges center on how to manage the complex ties and tensions that characterize current-day Asia. It is against this background that the four volume series edited by Lezszek Buszynski (a professor at the Australian National University) should be seen. The collection of four books is entitled “Asia Pacific Security” and published as part of Routledge’s series on Critical Concepts in Asian Studies (of which Buszynski is one of the general editors). Given the current emphasis in the United States towards what is popularly known as the “Pivot towards Asia” this series of books is a welcome assemblage of key essays charting out the potentials and risks of this extremely important region.

For readers of this web-site the definition of Asia as a region that the editor has chosen is a broad one that covers the area from India to Japan and from the two Koreas to Australia. However, throughout the volumes the heaviest emphasis is on what is usually called Northeast Asia (China, Japan and South and North Korea) and its relations with the United States. The volumes, separately and as a group bring together studies that have been previously published over the last two or so decades. It is very difficult to do justice to the very impressive array of seventy chapters that together add to over 1,700 pages that span the series’ four volumes. In order to facilitate this review, I have included the tables of contents of all four volumes since that is probably the best way to provide potential readers with an idea about the wealth and breadth of the issues covered. In general the series does an excellent job of presenting readers with both a broad overview of the main areas, issues and problems that characterize current-day Asia that is supplemented by a host of more in-depth essays that tackle more specific themes. The essays that Buszynski has selected for inclusion are consistently of a high standard, clearly written and usually linked to contemporary American theorizing about international relations.

In what follows I chart out the main parameters of the series in terms of three dimensions: empirical, theoretical, and policy orientation since they may interest readers from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. Empirically, the volumes cover the major players in the area (The United States, China, Japan and South Korea) and a host of more minor or major actors such as Australia and India (a country that strictly speaking is no less a major player than Japan or South Korea). A notable absence of a no less important actor is that of Russia that not only holds the largest Asian territory and has important national assets and interests in the area but is pursuing its own “pivot towards Asia”. The editor’s choice reflects not only the individual importance of the United States, China, Japan and South Korea but underscores the underlying tilt towards Northeast Asia in the analyses provided. Moreover, this choice of focus seems to reflect the emphasis characterizing contemporary US policy (more about this below).

Having said that, the editor has done a wonderful job of choosing an array of essays that cover trouble spots and potential flashpoints that already involve multiple players including regional associations and organizations. Key among the trouble spots are the manifold maritime issues that involve contested areas, access and a mixture of security and economic interests. No less important are the questions about a potentially imploding North Korea that possesses nuclear arms and the ever volatile issue of Taiwan’s independence. Readers seeking a special understanding of the regional and global themes that cross-cut nations and organizations would do well to read the chapters included in the last, fourth, volume devoted to regional security architecture and non-traditional security. Some of the topics covered here are the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, The ASEAN Regional Forum, and the economic-security nexus of East Asia as well as crime networks, infectious diseases and cyber threats. In this sense while a major guiding axis of the volumes is the evolving relationship between the United States and China as this tie impinges on their own and other countries policies, the volumes go beyond this specific relation. Thus included are very useful chapters about the kinds of security arrangements that are emerging in the area and outside it for managing tensions and contentions and the forms of new challenges that are developing in the region and increasingly becoming more significant.

Theoretically, the bias is very much towards contemporary concepts and analytical frameworks developed within American political science and especially the branch dealing with international relations. Hence, in his introductory essay to this four volume series Buszynski lays out his understanding of the region through three broad theoretical frames: realism (or neorealism), liberal institutionalism, and constructivism. In this manner, the contributions to the collection almost all refer to what are seen in the US academic centers as the most important theories and concerns. Even a cursory review of the journals from which the chapters are taken (set out at the beginning of each volume) reveals the extremely heavy prominence of US based publications. These include International Security, International Interactions, The Washington Quarterly, The China Quarterly, The Pacific Review, Asian Affairs, Asian Survey, or Survival. While this is not surprising given that International Relations (IR to its adherents) is very much an American disciplinary creation, one wonders if more voices from journals outside the mainstream ones could have added dimensions not usually covered through the American perspective. To be sure, readers will find a host of “locals” or “natives” of the region among the essays’ authors but these are either based in American academic centers (or their satellites) or explicitly use the theoretical concepts and contentions developed within them. This criticism may be especially pertinent from the perspective of say China based scholars. This point means that an inclusion of essays by Chinese scholars whose voices are not mediated through the understandings of American-based or American-oriented scholars – may have enriched the volumes and the kinds of analyses they contain.

Many if not most of the chapters contain either prognoses about future developments in the region or recommendations for policies to be undertaken by governments. Hence readers interested in the implications for policy that emerge from the chapters will encounter a rather consistent emphasis on the consequences of processes characterizing contemporary Asia for American administrations. Hence, overall, and this point is not surprising given the editor’s choice of the articles to be included, the emphasis is very much on concerns centered on the United States and its policies towards the countries, institutions and potential flashpoints of the region. Along these lines, a major emphasis in many chapters is on managing the manifold tensions (actual and potential) between the United States and China or other actors. In fact, many chapters include prescriptive sections that offer advice to policy-makers and decision-makers. Yet like any policy-oriented texts, one cannot but be struck by how the chapters in the four volumes underscore how circumstances are constantly changing and have to be updated for any coherent policy to emerge. Thus in the months it took me to read through the volumes and write this review, China’s stock-market has taken a beating, Xi the country’s president has ordered a crackdown on corruption, China continues to extend its territorial and maritime ambitions, and Japan and India have become closer. Thus perhaps the long-term significance of these volumes lies less in terms of the actual empirical details that are presented (although these are important) than in presenting the various analytical and theoretical frames through which the region of Asia as the globe as a whole can be understood. In fact, a great advantage of many theoretical frames that are presented and developed by the authors may be usefully applied to any future developments.

Buszynski provides introductory pieces at the beginning of each volume but these are extremely short (some running to only five pages) and very selective in terms of the issues or theoretical frames that are set out. The inclusion of longer integrative pieces (not necessarily by Buszynski himself) could have tied together the volumes in better ways and offered readers insights about the significance of the series as a whole or of each volume separately. Along these lines, the four books give one a sense that they are readers rather than integrated edited collections. Perhaps this was the intention of the publisher, Routledge, but readers should be aware of this shortcoming when approaching the individual books. Finally, one can ask as to the kinds of readerships that will benefit most from this series of books. The four volume series will certainly serve as a very good reference for libraries. Moreover, they can be used by researchers and advanced students as great source books for almost any analysis of contemporary Asia from the perspective of International Relations. Indeed, the great appeal of the chapters included in the four volumes will be to audiences rooted in policy sciences, area studies or theoretical IR. In addition, since the essays can be assigned individually the volumes can be an excellent basis for assignation of text in courses and seminars.

Asia Pacific Security Volume One: The Great Powers. Edited by Leszek Buszynski. London: Routledge xix+423 pp.

Asia Pacific Security Volume Two: Japan, South Korea and the Peripheral Players. Edited by Leszek Buszynski. London: Routledge x+429 pp.
Asia Pacific Security Volume Three: Trouble Spots and Potential Flashpoints. Edited by Leszek Buszynski. London: Routledge x415 pp.
Asia Pacific Security Volume Four: Regional Security Architecture and Non-traditional Security. Edited by Leszek Buszynski. London: Routledge x+455 pp.

The Tables of Contents

General introduction
PART 1 Power transition and a rising China
1 Power transition, challenge and the (re)emergence of China by David Rapkin and William R. Thompson
2 The geography of the peace: East Asia in the twenty-first century by Robert S. Ross
3 China’s naval nationalism: sources, prospects, and the U.S. response by Robert S. Ross
4 China’s strategic futures: debating the post-American world order by William A. Callahan
5 After unipolarity: China’s visions of international order in an era of U.S. decline by Randall L. Schweller and Xiaoyu Pu
6 Coping with a conflicted China by David Shambaugh
7 Chinese hegemony over East Asia by 2015? By David Shambaugh
8 Embracing Chinese global security ambitions by Jonathan Holslag
9 China’s overstretched military by Andrew Scobell and Andrew J. Nathan

PART 2 The US, China, and the American alliance system
10 The United States and the rise of China: implications for the long haul by Robert J. Art
11 American and Chinese power after the financial crisis by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
12 China, the U.S.-Japan alliance, and the security dilemma in East Asia by Thomas J. Christensen
13 Fostering stability or creating a monster? The rise of China and U.S. policy toward East Asia by Thomas J. Christensen
14 China’s century? Why America’s edge will endure by Michael Beckley
15 The US-led alliances in the Asia-Pacific: hedge against potential threats or an undesirable multilateral security order? By Jae Jeok Park

PART 3 A reviving Japan: The anatomy of Japan’s shifting security orientation by Tsuyoshi Sunohara
17 Who shapes the national security debate? Divergent interpretations of Japan’s security role by Keiko Hirata
18 Explaining Japanese antimilitarism: normative and realist constraints on Japan’s security policy by Yasuhiro Izumikawa
19 Article Nine of the Japanese constitution and security policy: realism versus idealism in Japan since the Second World War by Wada Shuichi
20 The Yasukuni Shrine dispute and the politics of identity in Japan: why all the fuss? By Daiki Shibuichi
21 Japan’s military modernisation: a quiet Japan–China arms race and global power projection by Christopher W. Hughes
22 “Super-Sizing” the DPRK threat: Japan’s evolving military posture and North Korea by Christopher W. Hughes
23 Japan’s shifting strategy toward the rise of China by Mike M. Mochizuki
24 `Managing China’: risk and risk management in Japan’s China policy by Caroline Rose
PART 4 South Korea
25 Relocating the U.S. forces in South Korea: strained alliance, emerging partnership in the changing defense posture by Chang-Hee Nam
26 Democratization and changing anti-American sentiments in South Korea by Chang Hun Oh and Celeste Arrington
27 Identity and security in Korea by Roland Bleiker
28 South Korea and Sino-Japanese rivalry: a middle power’s options within the East Asian core triangle by Gilbert Rozman

PART 5 Australia and India
29 Rising India: partner in shaping global commons? By C. Raja Mohan
30 The breakout of China-India strategic rivalry in Asia and the Indian Ocean by Francine R. Frankel
31 How to tame your dragon: an evaluation of India’s foreign policy toward China by Nitya Singh
32 Twenty years of Australia’s engagement with Asia by Ann Capling
33 Accommodation, realignment, or business as usual? Australia’s response to a rising China by James Manicom and Andrew O’Neil

PART 6 The Korean Peninsula
34 North Korea’s nuclear weapons: implications for the nuclear ambitions of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan by Christopher W. Hughes
35 Why North Korea will muddle through by Marcus Noland
36 A North Korean spring? By Victor D. Cha and Nicholas D. Anderson
37 Toward a grand bargain with North Korea by Michael O’Hanlon and Mike Mochizuki
38 Pyongyang’s survival strategy: tools of authoritarian control in North Korea by Daniel Byman and Jennifer Lind
39 The collapse of North Korea: military missions and requirements by Bruce W. Bennett and Jennifer Lind
40 North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and the maintenance of the Son gun system by Benjamin Habib
41 Uncertain allies or uncomfortable neighbors? Making sense of China—North Korea relations, 1949—2010 by Jae Ho Chung and Myung-Hae Choi
42 U.S. policy toward North Korea in strategic context: tempting Goliath’s fate by Wade L. Huntley
43 The North Korean nuclear crisis and U.S. strategy in Northeast Asia by Gilbert Rozman
44 North Korea: the beginning of a China-U.S. partnership? By Bonnie S. Glaser and Wang Liang

PART 7 Maritime disputes
45 The East China Sea dispute: context, claims, issues, and possible solutions by Mark J. Valencia
46 The Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute and Sino-Japanese political-economic relations: cold politics and hot economics? By Min Gyo Koo
47 China’s push through the South China Sea: the interaction of bureaucratic and national interests by John W. Garver
48 ASEAN and the South China Sea by Rodolfo C. Severino
49 Beijing’s South China Sea debate by Sarah Raine
50 The South China Sea: oil, maritime claims, and U.S.–China strategic rivalry by Leszek Buszynski

PART 8 Taiwan
51 The U.S. military and American commitment to Taiwan’s security by Steve Tsang
52 If Taiwan chooses unification, should the United States care? By Nancy Bernkopf Tucker

PART 9 Regional security architecture
53 A concert of Asia? By Amitav Acharya
54 Security architecture in Asia: the interplay of regional and global levels by Barry Buzan
55 Soft balancing, hedging, and institutional Darwinism: the economic-security nexus and East Asian
regionalism by T. J. Pempel
56 The origins of ASEAN+6 and Japan’s initiatives: China’s rise and the agent-structure analysis by Takashi Terada
57 Asia-Pacific security regionalism: the impact of post-1997 developments by Derek McDougall
58 Ideas, identity, and institution-building: from the `ASEAN way’ to the `Asia-Pacific way’? by Amitav Acharya
59 Making process, not progress: ASEAN and the evolving East Asian regional order by David Martin Jones and Martin L. R. Smith
60 Evaluating Track II approaches to security diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific: the CSCAP experience by Sheldon W. Simon
61 Security prospects in Southeast Asia: collaborative efforts and the ASEAN Regional Forum by Sheldon W. Simon

PART 10 Shanghai Cooperation Organization
62 The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: ’ tackling the three evils’. A regional response to non-traditional security challenges or an anti-Western bloc? By Stephen Aris
63 The Shanghai Cooperation Organization at 5: achievements and challenges ahead by Zhao Huasheng

PART 11 Non-traditional security
64 War and other insecurities in East Asia: what the security studies field does and does not tell us by Natasha Hamilton-Hart
65 Mobilising cyber power by Alexander Klimburg
66 Non-traditional security in China-ASEAN cooperation: the institutionalization of regional security cooperation and the evolution of East Asian regionalism by David Arase
67 Non-traditional security and infectious diseases in ASEAN: going beyond the rhetoric of securitization to deeper institutionalization by Mely Caballero-Anthony
68 ASEAN and the securitization of transnational crime in Southeast Asia by Ralf Emmers
69 Transnational environmental crime in the Asia Pacific: an `un(der)securitized’ security problem? by Lorraine Elliott


Suggested Citation:

Eyal Ben-Ari (2017), Review of “Asia Pacific Security”, by Leszek Buszynski (ed.), East Asian Integration Studies, Vol. 10, no. 4.