Whither Asian Defense Diplomacy? The Evolving Institutional Landscape of Military and Security Dialogue. Daniel H. Katz Ph.D. candidate, Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). LKYSPP Public Policy in Asia PhD Conference 26-27 May 2014.
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Whither Asian Defense Diplomacy? The Evolving Institutional Landscape of Military and Security Dialogue Daniel H. Katz Ph.D. candidate, Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) LKYSPP Public Policy in Asia PhD Conference 26-27 May 2014
Outline of Presentation • Introduction • Theoretical Framework • Methodological Details • Findings I: The Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) • Findings II: The ADMM-Plus • Findings III: The Jakarta International Defense Dialogue (JIDD) • Discussion • Conclusion/Public Policy Implications
Introduction • The end of the Cold War ushered in a dramatically different geopolitical context, particularly in Asia. • No organizing principle or comprehensive regional security architecture emerged. Closest approximation was the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) established in 1994. • Three new institutions focused on defense diplomacy have been established, a clear indication of a desire for robust dialogue mechanisms between defense and national security establishments.
Theoretical Framework • Theoretical justification of paper – evaluating accuracy of realist claims that the balance of power (or threat) are the sole determinants of state behavior in the international state system. • If realists (Mearsheimer, Fearon) are correct, dialogue between states is merely “cheap talk.” Seeming enthusiasm and proliferation of regional security dialogue in Asia in the post-Cold War period would seem to belie realist claims. • Liberal and neoliberal IR theorists (Nye, Keohane et al.) assert that economic interdependence and other forces work to mitigate conflict. • Constructivist IR theorists (Wendt, Finnemore et al.) argue that norm transmission and socialization, primarily at the international level, exert influence on state actors. • The argument/framework adopted in this paper aligns most closely with the defensive realists. In other words, defense diplomacy can mitigate conflict insofar as these interactions convey useful information about the intentions of other states and does not merely represent “cheap talk.” The military balance alone does not determine the likelihood of conflict.
Methodological Details • Case-study method, whereby same research questions asked of multiple cases • Sources: 1) author’s personal involvement with planning of 12th SLD in 2013 and research at IISS-Asia on history of SLD 2) secondary literature (albeit limited) on SLD, ADMM-Plus and JIDD • Dearth of scholarly attention to these defense diplomatic processes, in which there is consistent senior-level ministerial involvement by regional and extra-regional states, constitutes a significant gap in the literature.
Findings I: The SLD • Launched in 2002 by a nongovernmental, London-headquartered think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) • SLD held annually in Singapore at the Shangri-La Hotel. 2014 SLD (30 May-1 June) is the 13th incarnation • Two to three days of speeches, plenary sessions and bilateral meetings • Number of regional and extra-regional defense ministers participating in the SLD has consistently increased. However, China only sent its defense minister in 2011 despite sustained efforts by the IISS to ensure high-level Chinese participation. The U.S. Secretary of Defense has attended consistently since 2004. • First inclusive regional defense diplomacy institution in Asia. Sherpa meeting since 2013 to frame issues for the next SLD. • Valued for private bilateral, trilateral and other meetings on the sidelines. Some deliverables have emerged (e.g.-“Eyes in the Sky”).
Findings II: The ADMM-Plus • First met in 2010 and evolved out of the earlier ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) begun in 2006. ASEAN organizes the ADMM and ADMM-Plus. • The Plus stands for eight ASEAN dialogue partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. • Two ADMM-Plus gatherings have occurred thus far—2010 in Hanoi and 2013 in Brunei. Several Expert Working Groups (EWGs) focused on functional cooperation in 5 area – maritime security, counter-terrorism, HADR, PKOs, and military medicine. • Distinguished from the other institutions by its operational character. Table-top exercises on military medicine and maritime security in July 2011 and September 2012, respectively. A June 2013 HADR/MM exercise in Brunei involved more than 3,000 personnel and military assets from many ADMM-Plus countries. • However, there is avoidance of contentious territorial disputes in favor of what some deride as the “low-hanging fruit” of HARDR/MM exercises.
Findings III: The JIDD • Annual gathering in Jakarta since 2011. Indonesian government initiative organized by Indonesian Defense University. • Indonesia, already seen as a middle power and an important actor in ASEAN, clearly wishes to places its own imprint on the evolution of regional security diplomacy. • Similar format to the SLD. In March 2014, approximately 500 delegates from 46 countries attended the JIDD. Defense expo on sidelines. • Unclear whether there is an ongoing work program associated with the JIDD. Appears not to have working groups (like the ADMM-Plus) or a preparatory meeting (like the SLD). • Reasonably high level of representation by attending countries. China sent a Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Sun Jianguo, to the 2014 JIDD, equivalent to the rank of the Chinese defense official who normally leads the Chinese delegation to the SLD.
Discussion • Between allies or partners, defense diplomacy often involves capacity-building, information-sharing and similar activities. • Between potential adversaries, defense diplomacy is more suitably termed “strategic engagement” (Cottey and Forster, 2004). Range of collaborative activities between these actors more limited due to mistrust and suspicion of intentions and capabilities. • Though the three institutions examined in this paper are slightly different in organization and structure, they share common goal of seeking to maintain a stable regional order. • The militaries of regional actors are operating in increasingly crowded seas and skies. The possibility for miscalculation and accident remains. • The rise of defense diplomacy institutions in the Asia-Pacific is an encouraging sign. Countries in the region are demonstrating their commitment to dialogue and efforts to foster a region that is and will be among the most important (economically, militarily and on other dimensions) in the world.
Conclusion/Public Policy Implications • Defense diplomacy institutions are developing and proliferating in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, Malaysia convened a Putrajaya Forum in conjunction with the Defence Services Asia (DSA) programming. Additional efforts may emerge in the future. • There is a risk of competitive institutional dynamics emerging. From a public policy and organizational perspective, a more unified Asian defense diplomacy architecture would be desirable. A stronger and more robust dialogue could emerge from increased connectivity among the diplomatic platforms. • Bilateral and multilateral defense diplomacy can and should be complementary. However, defense ministries ought to carefully consider their annual defense diplomacy engagements. Defense ministers and heads of state should seize the challenges and opportunities presented by overlapping defense diplomacy architectures.