Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Emerging Balance of Powerin Asia: Conflict or Cooperation?


Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) has just published (December 30, 2009) a paper of mine titled, The Emerging Balance of Power in Asia: Conflict or Cooperation? as part of its Manekshaw Paper series.

The paper analyses the emerging balance of power in Asia, viewed through the lenses of military strategies, geostrategies and geopolitical relations as well as through economic interactions that have altered strategic equations between various countries in Asia. The central argument of the paper is that increased focus on military and securitisation of politics is likely to intensify the probability of conflicts in Asia.



While there has been a general acknowledgement that there will not be any major conventional or even nuclear wars, escalation of limited conflicts into minor regional conflicts, and the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons cannot be ruled out. Asia, in fact, appears ripe for limited conflicts, even under a nuclear umbrella, due to factors such as unsettled boundary and territorial issues and mutual distrust among major powers. While the US continues to be the most powerful nation in the world, China is fast emerging as the greatest security challenge, not just in Asia but globally too, given the fact it has the fastest growing economy as well as military. What could however become more challenging might be the differential way in which it is handled by Tokyo and Washington. Therefore, competition for influence between China and Japan, China and the US, China and Russia and China and India are going to be some of the unfortunate features of the new Asian century. The choice, on the part of the US, to be either an engaged Asian power or a reclusive offshore balancer, will be an indicator to its key security partners in Asia about the credibility of its extended deterrence strategy as well as the future Asian security matrix.

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