Building A Military Security Cooperation Regime in Northeast Asia: Feasibility and Design

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This study explores the feasibility and design of a military security cooperation regime in Northeast Asia consisting of the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas. The author undertook this research for two primary reasons: first, to determine why key actors in Northeast Asia have not yet developed regional security arrangements like Europe has demonstrated in the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the European Security and Defense Policy. Second, based on personal experiences and observations as a policy maker in the military security cooperation area over the ten years, which has included extensive contacts with foreign colleagues, the author is confident that Northeast Asia has the potential to institutionalize a new military security regime in the region. To create such a regime, key regional actors must develop a joint strategy to implement the concept.

To develop a theoretical framework for a regional security regime in Northeast Asia, the study examines some prevalent theories of international relations, notably realism and liberalism. Research findings confirm that neoliberal institutionalism is the approach most compatible with the goal of building a regional security regime. The study argues that realism--the theory which posits that the purpose of international relations is to maximize state power--has inherent weakness in terms of resolving potential regional conflicts. In contrast to realism, neoliberal institutionalism could overcome the vulnerabilities and strains built into the Cold War structure which still prevail in Northeast Asia. Neoliberalism institutionalism holds out the promise of reconciliation and cooperation by inculcating commonly accepted norms, principles, rules, and decision-making procedures.

The study identifies four conditions necessary to the formation of a security regime in Northeast Asia: the evolution of existing security arrangements; regional economic interdependence with spill over security cooperation; transnational threats as a set of commonly perceived threats; and support of key actors for a new security regime.