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Current and Emerging Security Environment in Southeast Asia

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Current and Emerging Security Environment in Southeast Asia
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    CURRENT AND EMERGING SECURITY ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTHEAST ASIA A REGIONAL SECURITY APPRAISAL FOR PHILIPPINE DEFENSE, SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY Rommel C. Banlaoi   A Regional Security Appraisal for Philippine Defense, Security and Foreign Policy 2 CURRENT AND EMERGING SECURITY ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTHEAST ASIA A REGIONAL SECURITY APPRAISAL FOR PHILIPPINE DEFENSE, SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY Rommel C. Banlaoi Introduction A region of immense diversity marked by complex security challenges, Southeast Asia has been in the strategic radar of many countries, particularly the extra-regional powers, because of its inherent strategic significance. 1  During the cold war, Southeast Asia was enmeshed in intense ideological internal armed conflicts and interstate wars that prompted major powers and other affected countries to get inevitably involved. 2   After the end of the cold war, Southeast Asia’s strategic significance became more prominent because of the regi on’s remarkable economic dynamism propelled by greater regional cooperation through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 3  Southeast Asia then became the inspiration of the developing world, until the 1   For an excellent historical reference on the strategic significance of Southeast Asia as a region, see Joint Chief of Staff, “Memorandum on the Strat  egic Importance of the Southeast Mainland" (27 January, 1962) at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pentagon2/doc109.htm (accessed on 13 July, 2009). Also see Alan Collins, Security and Southeast Asia: Domestic, Regional and Global Issues (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003) and Amitav Acharya, The Quest for Identity: International Relations of Southeast Asia (New York and Singapore: Oxford University Press, 2000). 2  For an outstanding analysis of Southeast Asia during the cold war, see Michael Leifer, Conflict and Regional Order in Southeast Asia (London: International Institute of Strategic Studies, 1980). For a recent analysis, see Joseph Liow, "Rethinking the Cold War Legacy on Southeast Asian International Relations" (Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th Annual Convention, Bridging Multiple Divides, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA, 26 March, 2008). 3   Leszek Buszynski, “Southe ast Asia in the Post- Cold War Era: Regionalism and Security,” Asian Survey, vol. 32, no. 9 (September, 1992), pp. 831-845.   A Regional Security Appraisal for Philippine Defense, Security and Foreign Policy 3 1997 Asian financial crisis severely disr upted the region’s economic momentum. 4  The region enhanced its strategic importance in the aftermath of 11 September, 2001 terrorist attacks when the United States declared it as the “second front” in the global campaign against terrorism. 5  In the post-9/11 era, however, Southeast Asia is increasingly confronted with many non-traditional security threats, which are exacerbated by long-standing conventional security challenges that have not totally disappeared despite the moment of relative peace and stability currently enjoyed in the region. 6  The confluence of all these complex and interrelated issues makes Southeast Asia a significant part of the security agenda not only of the Philippines but also of its neighbors and the extra-regional powers. This paper is a strategic appraisal of current and emerging security environment in Southeast Asia in order to support the advancement of Philippine national interests, in general, and defense, security and foreign policy interests, in particular. It identifies Philippine defense, security and foreign policy interests in Southeast Asia and evaluates the internal and external factors (including trends, issues, challenges, threats and opportunities) affecting these national interests in the region. It intends to provoke further discussions to generate vital inputs to the development of Philippine regional strategy towards Southeast Asia, which requires another rigorous study. 4   H.W. Arndt and H. Hill (eds.), Southeast Asia’s Economic Crisis: Origins, Lessons and the Way Forward (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1999) and P.R. Agenor, M. Miller, D. Vines and A. Weber (eds.), The Asian Financial Crisis: Causes, Contagion and Consequences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).   5   Andrew T.H. Tan, “Southeast Asia as the Second Front in t  he War Against Terrorism: Evaluating the Threat and Responses, ” Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 15, no. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 112-138. For a more recent analysis of the issue, see Amitav Acharya and Arabinda Acharya, “The Myth of the Second Front: Localizing the War on Terror in Southeast Asia, ” The Washington Quarterly, vol. 30, no. 4 (Autumn , 2007), pp. 75-90.   6   Andrew T.H. Tan and J.D. Kenneth Boutin (eds.), Non-Traditional Security Issues in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Select Publishing, Pte Ltd and the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2001).     A Regional Security Appraisal for Philippine Defense, Security and Foreign Policy 4 Regional Strategic Appraisal: A Framework for Analysis A Regional Strategic Appraisal or RSA is an important framework for analysis that examines a specific region in order to identify a country’s national interests in that region, identify policies that support these interests and develop strategies to obtain or further the identified interests. 7  Developed in the United States, the conduct of RSA consists of two distinct but closely related parts that can be used by other countries like the Philippines: a) the examination of the strategic environment of the region; and b) the development of a regional strategy based on the appraisal of this strategic environment. 8  Though the RSA primarily involves these two related parts, it rests on the assumption that the state has a clear understanding of global and domestic trends and a coherent analysis of national and regional situations. The RSA also assumes that the state has a systematic process for national security strategy formulation with a deep grasp of its national purpose (enduring values and beliefs), interests and priorities, as well as policies and programs. There is a need to emphasize that national security strategy formulation varies from one country to another. Based on the practice in the US, national security strategy is usually divided into four major components: political, economic, military and informational. Figure 1 shows the RSA process and its concomitant process for national security strategy formulation. 7    Fred Sadrak (ed.), Aid to Formulating a Regional Strategic Appraisal (Carlisle: Army War College, 2001).   8   Ibid.     A Regional Security Appraisal for Philippine Defense, Security and Foreign Policy 5 Figure 1. Regional Strategic Appraisal  Source: Fred Sadrak (ed.), Aid to Formulating a Regional Strategic Appraisal (Carlisle: Army War College, 2001).   There are four major steps in RSA. 9  The first step is the identification of the country’s national interests in the region. The second step is the determination of the intensity of regional interests (vital, important, peripheral). The third step is the evaluation of the external and internal factors (trends, issues, challenges and opportunities) affecting these interests. The last step is the delineation of the national policy in regard to the region. Conducting the RSA is essential for the development of a country’s regional strategy with the primordial objective of advancing its national interests. This study is a strategic appraisal of the current and emerging security environment in Southeast Asia 9   Ibid.  
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