Security Challenges for Southeast Asia After the Cold War 9789814376976

Excerpt: "We at the end of the Cold war can also draw some lessons from that experience. We can take encouragement

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional research centre for scholars and other specialists concerned with modern Southeast Asia, particularly the multi-faceted problems of stability and security, economic development, and political and social change. The Institute is governed by a twenty-two-member Board of Trustees comprising nominees from the Singapore Government, the National University of Singapore, the various Chambers of Commerce, and professional and civic organizations. A ten-man Executive Committee oversees day-to-day operations; it is chaired by the Director, the Institute's chief academic and administrative officer.


Robert O'Neill


Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

The paper was delivered at a Public Lecture sponsored by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore on 7 August 1992.

Published by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 0511 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

© 1992 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies The responsibility for facts and opinions expressed in this publication rests exclusively with the author, and his interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the Institute or its supporters.

Cataloguing in Publication Data

O'Neill, Robert, 1936The security challenges for Southeast Asia after the cold war. 1. Asia. Southeastern- National security. 2. A SEAN countries- National security. I. Title. UA853 A9058 1992 sls92-78666 ISBN 981-3016-43-4

Typeset by Letraprint Printed in Singapore by Vetak Services


Security Challenges for Southeast Asia after the Cold War 1 Discussion 16 About the Author





What does the end of the Cold War signify for Southeast Asia? How far has the Cold War been a cause of security problems in Southeast Asia? Obviously it played a major role, in at least six principal ways. First, in a more general sense, it reduced the United Nations to relative impotence as the basic guarantor of international security. Second, in a regional sense, it transformed the nature of the Malayan Emergency and the French campaign against the Viet Minh, most of all in the sight of the United States Administration, the Congress and people. What was seen as legitimate nationalism initially was viewed after 1950 as totalitarian in aim, and had therefore to be opposed, in this region as in Europe and Korea. The Cold War changed U.S. policies towards Southeast Asia from stand off and avoidance of commitments to the provision of support and ultimately to the acceptance of leadership in a long and frustrating struggle to stem the flow of Communism into Indochina. Given America's economic and military strength, this was a change of fundamental importance to the region. It was a change whose consequences are still strongly felt in the 1990s. Third, the Cold War led both Communist China and the Soviet Union to support the Viet Minh. China's military assistance and political involvement in Indochina in the 1950s encouraged Beijing leaders over the following forty years to think of Indochina as a sphere of influence. This has a continuing legacy today. Soviet military and economic power also became significant factors on the Southeast Asian scene over the past thirty years, culminating in the

use of Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang by Soviet naval and air forces. The legacy of this Soviet involvement will be much less durable than that of the Chinese. Fourth, the United States became steadily more formally and widely committed to the Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific regions via its bilateral treaty with the Philippines, the trilateral ANZUS Pact, the informal trilateral consultational arrangements made with the British and French in 1952-53, and the eight-sided Manila Treaty, which we came to know best through its planning agency, SEATO, after 1954. Fifth, the Cold War drew in not only the superpowers but also the British Commonwealth. It facilitated the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA), Australia's accession to it, and the establishment of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaysia. It also reinforced the hostility between Malaysia, supported by the Commonwealth, and Indonesia in the early 1960s at the time of Soekarno's confrontation campaign. The Cold War also drew Australia and New Zealand into the making of long-term defence co-operation arrangements with all five original ASEAN members. These links remain significant, and in the background repose the Five-Power Defence Arrangements between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Sixth, the intra-regional tensions engendered by the Cold War encouraged the foundation of ASEAN in 1967 and gave it real cohesion in the following two decades. These tensions led ASEAN to adopt the policy of ZOPFAN in 1971, and continued to exacerbate problems such as the Vietnam War and the refugee crises of the late 1970s and 1980s. While disavowing any security function, ASEAN none the less has made a powerful contribution to regional harmony and confidence. Through its effectiveness ASEAN has set an important example to the rest of the world, one whose significance I will return to later in these remarks. In sum, the Cold War made Southeast Asia a cockpit for the contention of all the major military powers of that period. It gave this region great significance and prominence, which, if not entirely desirable, brought considerable benefits. But it was also an age of formidable dangers and challenges. Their disappearance in the more moderate post-Cold War climate gives us hope for a much more secure and rapidly advancing region in years ahead. But before optimism sweeps us away, it is salutary to recall that there were many security issues in Southeast Asia which had their existence independently of the Cold War. They include: •

the revolt against colonialism; 2

• •

the need to strengthen the domestic fibre of newly independent states, particularly to withstand the stresses of communal problems; and the accumulation of political power by the military in several states such as Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, which has solved one form of problem, only to create others of a less tractable kind, shared by many states in other parts of the world.

Southeast Asia has also had its own problems of regional interstate relations, exemplified by Indonesia's early attempts at domination, leading to Soekarno's confrontation of Malaysia, and the Philippines/Sabah problem. These issues now extend to include the problem of relations with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Southeast Asia would definitely not have been a trouble-free area without the Cold War, but that struggle intensified many of the above issues and injected new problems. The end of the Cold War therefore still leaves a considerable number of indigenous security concerns, but they are concerns which are of far greater importance to the states of the region than to the United States or the West generally. The region will have to manage these issues essentially through its own policies and resources. It has to do this despite the removal of some of the incentive for co-operation offered by the Cold War and the fear of a threat from Vietnam. Let me now consider the nature of security challenges in this region after the Cold War. First, I shall put the region into its global context because just as Southeast Asia is playing a more important role in world affairs as a centre of economic growth, so also a new current of global post-Cold War security problems is affecting the region.

II. THE CHANGING NATURE OF GLOBAL SECURITY PROBLEMS AFTER THE COLD WAR The significance of the end of the Cold War can be viewed in either of two ways. One is to recognize that the Soviet Union has collapsed, and the Warsaw Pact with it. The residual leadership in Russia is weak and dependent upon Western economic support. Its people are poor, hungry and desperate about their future prospects. They have no serious intention of threatening the security of the West and if they did Russia would rapidly fall apart. Therefore there is no major threat to Western security. 3

The other perspective is to say that the Warsaw Pact never amounted to very much: it was always essentially the USSR, of which Russia was the principal part, hence the demise of both the USSR and the Pact have not transformed the situation. Poverty is nothing new to the Russian people, and it will make them neither friendly nor less avaricious. They still have the world's biggest military force, they are the second naval power, and even in ten years time, assuming their adherence to the agreement which Presidents Bush and Yeltsin reached in Washington in June, they will have more than enough nuclear weapons to blow us all to kingdom-come several times over. They are a very real military problem, and we shall have to maintain our guard for another generation or so at least. There is truth in both of these perspectives. But one could have offered a similar choice with respect to Germany after the fall of Hitler, or France after the end of Napoleon. In those cases the popular preference for peace and the pursuit of prosperity eventually gained such a secure hold that belligerence was dispelled. The thought of Britain going to war with either of these ancient enemies, despite the hostilities of trawler skippers off the Scillies in June, is now ludicrous. But it took a long time before one could say that real security in these relationships had been assured. In the case of Russia we may well have to wait a generation or two before we can be quite sure that war has become a non-option as an implement of state policy. Hence we would be wise to heed the force of the second perspective in the near and mid term while noting the potential dominance of the first for the longer term. The need for deterrence is not yet over; NATO still has an important residual task to carry through. But while these stark realities lie in the background, the foreground will be thronged with dramas of other kinds. The forces of nationalism and ethnic rivalry will tear at the fabric of the old Europe. In other parts of the world, disgruntled or opportunistic strongmen may take the law into their own hands and violate the rights of their neighbours or those of minorities within their borders. Some of them may develop weapons of mass destruction and seek either to blackmail the West or other significant powers in the region of trouble, or to take revenge for ills they have suffered. And aggrieved, underprivileged individuals and groups across the world will, from time to time as we have seen in cities as diverse as Beirut and Los Angeles, assert themselves against those whom they believe to be their oppressors. They will demonstrate to the rest of the watching world that they have a claim on the consciences and pockets of those who are better off. People and facilities may well be held hostage in the process. 4

These will be the more immediate security problems to be addressed. But, it should be noted, they are of a very different kind to the traditional security threat which has been directed by one ruler or government against the realm and people of another. They are less dramatic, less sharply focused on particular governments hence they are easier to ignore or procrastinate about. None the less they pose fundamental dangers to freedoms and standards of living which we all too easily take for granted because they govern the general climate in which international political, economic and social intercourse is conducted. These kinds of threat not only will kill hundreds of thousands of people in the coming generation and inflict immense misery on many more, they will also undermine the confidence which is an essential basis for economic and social progress. They bring to the surface the least constructive instincts which lie deeply rooted in the natures of all of us. The only way to keep these threats in check is to establish a general climate of impermissibility towards the use of force for other than strictly defensive purposes. We have achieved this gain in the domestic setting, within individual national communities in many parts of the world, and within the West as an international entity. The next task ahead of us, a task of daunting magnitude and unforeseeably long duration, is to extend this regime from the West to the global community at large.



National military forces will remain essential to the creation and maintenance of a secure global regime, but they will be directed more at the strengthening of the rule of international law and respect for basic values and rights than at the maintenance of national security against threats of the Cold War and former ages. We will see in effect a transition in the use of military force from the narrower purpose of national defence to the broader one of maintaining global security so that we can all press ahead with the pursuit of our legitimate business. Ministries of Defence will in effect become Ministries of International Security and the armed forces under their control will see a like change in function. But this process of change is not something entirely new. It has been under way for a very long time. It made a bad start in the 1920s and the world learned from that experience. The Cold War inhibited it strongly in the post1945 period but now the paralysis of the United Nations has been overcome. The world can start to use for a broader purpose the capacities and experience 5

that have been assembled through a great alliance such as NATO and the other groupings which the United States has led in the Pacific over the past forty years. It has also to be recognized that while the nature of security threats has changed a great deal in the past few years, we are still not entirely free of the old type of danger. The need endures for the West to maintain a stable deterrent relationship with other major military powers capable of serious hostile action such as Russia. It will be the task of NATO to see that this balance survives. I have every confidence that it will. NATO is in good hands and its member governments take this mission seriously. It will be expensive to sustain and many a political battle will be fought between parties, within parties and between governments and interest groups to trim the course a little, one way or the other. And every now and then something will go wrong which reminds us of the need for bearing burdens that we would rather cast off. But basically I am not anxious about the preservation of these essential capacities. Political power in the West is not about to be seized by naive disarmers.

Rather I see two other and greater causes for anxiety: first a lack of attention by Western (as distinct from ASEAN) governments to the non-military aspects of security; and second the formidable difficulties of re-shaping our military capabilities to serve the broader purpose of building a global security system supportive of the international climate of trust and confidence on which development depends. The tragic recent histories of the Caucasus and Yugoslavia give us clear examples of what might happen on a larger scale over a more extensive area. The states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Mongolia and adjacent regions of China can erupt in civil violence through incapacity to cope with social and economic pressures from disgruntled citizens. The social structures of Myanmar badly need reform. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have all turned an important corner in the past year or two, but much remains to be done there before we can say that these are secure, prosperous states. ASEAN and the West can do much more than at present to prevent their slide into chaos by providing development assistance in the form of capital, equipment and experts to advise on the setting up of new systems of national and local government, new economic ventures, more efficient markets, and safeguards for the rights of minorities. We need to do much more to build and develop the expertise needed to bring these states through a long period of stressful development securely and successfully. The required knowledge has a military dimension but for the 6

most part it is civilian in nature. It demands a deep understanding of the ways in which social, political, and economic policies can interact to produce security and progress rather than conflict and chaos. A special international body would help greatly in fostering and applying this expertise, in weighing the progress reports of the development specialists in the field and in planning and co-ordinating the necessary international action which individual governments will have to take. Sadly at present Western governments show little sign of comprehending the need for building this sort of expertise, let alone an organization which can apply it and guide more effective assistance policies. Official thinking is too much in the realm of the short term and the least expense for the nonmilitary approach to be developed properly. Therefore the task which will fall eventually to the armed services in the basic issues of restoring law and order, preventing the slaughter of refugees, distributing food, providing medical attention and building shelter will be all the greater. Western governments currently protest about the size of the burden to be borne once they accept intervention responsibilities, but eventually they will be forced to undertake them. Their own public opinion and the outflow of trouble from the most severely afflicted regions will compel action. The longer they leave it the worse the eventual problem will be. Armed services, not only Western ones but also those of Southeast Asia, will then be handed very difficult and disagreeable tasks in their own regions. The military requirements of building a global security system, while not of such immediate prominence, remain significant. Just because the role of military power has declined, it is not true to say that it has no role in strengthening global security. While some formidable nuclear and conventional forces must be retained for deterrent purposes, the parts of armed services which will be used most frequently in the post-Cold War world will be rapid-deployment combat forces on the Gulf War model, blockading forces to implement sanctions, medical and refugee relief teams, and peacekeeping and observation forces. They must be backed by heavy logistic groups capable of moving, storing and distributing the vast quantities of supplies that these teams require. They will be commanded by international or alliance military leaders and their staff. These forces will be international in composition, and they will almost certainly require elements of all three services: ground forces to take charge physically in the troubled areas and initiate relief operations; air forces for rapid movement of persons civil and military, for movement of medical specialists, supply, fire support and command and control; and naval forces for heavy lift and amphibious capabilities, for coastal and deep water flank security, for fire support for operations ashore, and for the provision of floating bases and command and control facilities. If ASEAN members are 7

to participate in operations to preserve and strengthen international order, they will need forces designed along these lines.



Before drawing specific conclusions relating to the security policies of states in the Southeast Asian region, let me discuss the more regionally-related issues of the Asia-Pacific area, taking them on four levels: those of the area as a whole, those of the Southeast Asian region, those of ASEAN itself, and those of the Southwest Pacific and Indian Oceans. 1.

The Asia-Pacific Context

Important factors to note are: • •

the relative decline of American influence, particularly in the economic dimension, but also in the political and military spheres; the absolute decline of Russian power and the emergence of an area of weakness in the Northeast Asian sector - for Southeast Asia this change also means the disappearance of a regional balancing force which some viewed to be helpful, especially in the context of China in the South China Sea; the continuing contradiction of economic reform and political stalemate in China, which threatens a renewal of internal tensions there - the period following the demise of Deng Xiao Ping will be an anxious one; Japanese influence will grow, raising questions as to whether Japanese policies towards the region will be fully compatible with Southeast Asian ideas as to what constitutes vital sovereignty, particularly in an economic sense, but inevitably also a political and possibly a military sense as well; the Korean problem remains unsolved, and despite hopeful signs that both North and South genuinely wish to avoid conflict, until the North becomes a much more open and easier to read society from the outside, there can be little faith in Kim II Sung's claims of benevolence; the lack of effective regional integration in the Pacific leaves this area in a weaker situation than that of Western Europe, one which might appear to some desperate leaders to be more permissive of the use of force.

Hence regional and sub-regional co-operation within this area is of the greatest importance. ASEAN and the South Pacific Forum are two strong building blocks. There is a crying need for a counterpart in the northeast Asian sector. 8


The Southeast Asian Regional Context

The internal problems of several states of the Southeast Asian region are formidable: - The future of Cambodia, and the UNTAC operation remain uncertain, dependent on the attitudes of the Khmer Rouge. Will the UN be able to provide the necessary resources for sufficiently long a period, given all the other claims on that organization's attention and the ease with which it becomes swamped by a relatively small number of problems? That is a very serious question, to which the answer may well be "No". - Thailand, as has been shown by the recent political strife, still faces difficulties in developing a democratic system which is of sufficient strength to withstand the rivalry of the military at times of crisis. - The Philippines, despite the election of a strong and able President in Mr Ramos, remains weak in economic and political senses and may be the scene of more violence in the coming years. - Recent events in Eastern Indonesia, or more specifically Timor, demonstrate that local problems can both threaten the peace of the archipelago and lead to tensions in relations with neighbouring states. - Myanmar suffers under a dictatorial system of government which is a blot on the whole region, a system which unfortunately still has considerable strength to resist the pressures of those fighting for a democratic society. The country's economic performance is also far below what should be expected of a state well endowed with human and physical resources. The external problems of the Southeast Asian region are also significant: Prospects for a smoother relationship between Thailand and Cambodia are unclear but they depend heavily on the progress achieved by UNTAC and the degree to which the Khmer Rouge respect the undertakings that they have given to date. - Vietnam and Cambodia hopefully will have learned restraint out of their long period of conflict. But it is only realistic to acknowledge that the border between the two, especially on the approaches to Saigon, is still a matter for dispute between factions on either side, and that there has been a long tradition of hostility between both countries. We have not yet seen the last of trouble between them. - Tensions between China and Vietnam have increased again, especially in the South China Sea, centring on the Spratlys and made all the more urgent by the granting of oil exploration licences by both Hanoi and Beijing for the same areas. 9

- The Philippines' claim to Sabah is now dormant, but to the best of my knowledge it has not yet been repudiated. It can return to haunt MalaysianFilipino relations in future times of trouble. All littoral states in the Southeast Asian and South Pacific region have a strong interest in the maintenance of sovereignty and security in their maritime environment, particularly their Exclusive Economic Zones. This requirement creates special problems for the inadequate policing resources of the smaller island states of the South Pacific, as well as for archipelagic states such as Indonesia and the Philippines. As I have already said, ASEAN states, and their South Pacific friends, Australia and New Zealand also, have an obligation to make contributions from time to time to UN peacekeeping and other related commitments. They need to focus more on the development of forces trained, equipped and structured for these purposes. ASEAN's future relationship with Vietnam in a general political and economic sense remains a key variable in the security of the region. The next few years appear to be a time of opportunity for both sides, but much will depend upon the course of reform in Vietnam and the domestic power base of the more outwardly inclined moderates. 3. New Problems of Security Relations within ASEAN

The possibility of expansion of ASEAN's membership is now a live issue, seeking a long-term solution to the principal security problems of the past twenty years through the inclusion of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Vestigial tensions remain amongst ASEAN partners: Indonesia and Malaysia tend to have different perceptions of some problems to those held by Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. And all of those three do not think alike on all issues either. Prospects for military co-operation are limited because the assessments of ASEAN members still differ markedly on both threats and the issues for which force could usefully be employed. Prospects for broader, that is, non-military security co-operation are much better because there is already a substantial consensus among ASEAN members on the social and economic requirements of strong societies, but on political systems there is much less agreement. This is an area of great sensitivity and it will be quite some time before there can be full and open lO

discussion of political reforms, let alone a common approach. But at least ASEAN has shown the necessary resilience to cope with this difficult fact of regional life. The region lacks a co-ordinated security structure, quite apart from the more contentious issue of an integrated military command. By this I mean a network of official and non-official experts who can pool information and discuss their appreciations and estimates of dangers, before beginning to evolve policy recommendations to their governments on an agreed basis. Again this situation is not without hope. Substantial consultation on these issues does occur, but it is more of a spontaneous, bilateral nature than a systematic, multilateral process. Further consultation should be encouraged, with a view to full, multilateral sharing of views on security problems and policies. Prospects for regional confidence-building measures, transparency, arms control and ultimately disarmament will then become significant, and all states have economic and political incentives for realizing them. The basis of a regional security dialogue with Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos exists in the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (1976), but it now needs further development. Recent events are encouraging, particularly the proposal adopted in the Singapore Decl::tration at the conclusion of the Fourth ASEAN Summit, 27-28 January 1992, to mvite Laos and Vietnam to join the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC). This seems to be a very sensible and desirable arrangement. But further extension of the TAC is prevented by the lack of agreement between members on the desirability of inviting the five permanent members of the Security Council to accede to the Treaty. With respect to the objectives of Indonesia, that such accession may legitimate undesired great power military intervention in the region, it is true that China could be a problem in this regard, particularly with respect to the South China Sea. By contrast Britain and France would not pose problems, focused more as they are on developments within the EC. Russia has little to contribute to the cause of regional peace. The only real gain of this proposal would be the inclusion of the United States as a Treaty partner. But as U.S. interest is manifest in other ways and through other linkages, this is scarcely a strong selling point. So on balance I think it wiser to limit TAC membership to states of this region. A second element of th~ Singapore Declaration is of particular importance, namely the recommendations that "ASEAN should seek avenues to 11

engage member states in new areas of co-operation in security matters" and that ASEAN should " ... use established fora to promote external dialogues on enhancing security in the region as well as intra-ASEAN dialogues on ASEAN security co-operation". Given the less military nature of ASEAN's security problems in future, and their increasingly important social and economic aspects, there should be fewer problems in this form of co-operation than during the Cold War. ASEAN members have much to contribute to each other and the wider region in these regards. But a potentially divisive issue remains on the ASEAN agenda: the debate on the future of the concept of ASEAN as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality. The difficulty understandably arises over the point of neutrality, on which there are deep-seated differences in the attitudes of states such as Indonesia and Singapore on their roles within the broader structure of world order. The end of the Cold War has logically inclined the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to doubt the utility of cleaving to a posture of neutrality regarding the military presence of the superpowers, when quite clearly they all want a closer relationship with the United States, and Russia has very little to offer. Given the differences of view which exist within ASEAN on this issue, it seems premature to propose the rapid and final discarding of the ZOPFAN idea, but clearly the time is ripe for a fuller debate and the introduction of a system which allows individual states to proceed at their own speed in developing security relations with the great powers. It is worth bearing in mind that the United States and other Western powers seem likely to prefer to devote their resources more to their internal problems and less to the security of other states, particularly those who like ASEAN members have already established formidable domestic and regional strength and have excellent prospects for sustaining relatively high economic growth rates. In other words, the essential problem will become how to keep the U.S. and other Western states interested in the security of the region rather than how to keep them out. These thoughts also apply to recent suggestions that the Non-Aligned Movement should be kept strong in order to check Western influence. If the West encounters a new form of polarization, it is all the more likely to succumb to introversion. This is an age for reducing barriers, not raising them. Security co-operation with external powers therefore should be pursued positively, with care and skilful diplomacy. However, the Singapore Declaration does herald a new and very welcome attitude on this question, and the 12

likely use of ASEAN's Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC) as the vehicle for ASEAN's security dialogue with external powers offers benefits. ASEAN can gain from advice and information on how to approach the new security problems of the post-Cold War era, from access to technology of a civil as well as a military nature. ASEAN will be able to discuss other related problems more fully with key external powers, particularly Western policies governing access to markets. Western powers need to be reminded that such access can have profound implications for the security of the Southeast Asian region. The PMC is a particularly useful body as its members include all the big economic players. It is, in effect, the G7 plus the new dynamos of East and Southeast Asia. Through keeping the ASEAN-PMC link open and active, both sides have much to gain. But now, in this new international context, ASEAN has to define its approach to the responsibilities of building a wider structure for the maintenance of world order - a particularly consequential matter given the way in which other developing states look to ASEAN as an example of how they might organize their own regional networks. There will be many challenges for regional experts in developing new approaches, new fields of analysis, a more enduring structure of peace in Southeast Asia, and a positive contribution to the security of a troubled world in which the watchword can easily become "Let the devil take the hindmost". 4. Security Issues in the Southwest Pacific and Indian Ocean

Just looking a little further to the east, to security issues in the Southwest Pacific, they seem likely to be minor from an ASEAN point of view. Papua New Guinea will continue to have problems particularly with regard to the maintenance of authority in Bouganville. Fiji remains in a delicate state, but Australia and New Zealand should be capable of supplying necessary assistance there. The Indian Ocean as a security problem for ASEAN and Australia is likely also to remain a low-key issue. India is developing its naval power, but that naval power is strictly limited and concerned essentially with the maintenance of a position of defensive strength in the northern part of the Ocean. U.S. and Japanese interests in the Indian Ocean from the perspective of security of oil supplies will remain high, however. Therefore, both of those states are likely to keep a keen eye on what is happening and will want to stay in close touch with India on that issue. I am sure that ASEAN states will also be interested in the quality of the relationship between the United States and India.




Despite the end of the Cold War, the world remains an insecure place. The nature of security issues has changed considerably from the more military confrontations of huge blocs to the more political, economic and social challenges posed by both new states and the remnants of old ones which have collapsed. In this context, it would be well for governments and their advisers to bear three things in mind: 1.

2. 3.

Security begins at home, and rests on the foundations of responsible, efficient, democratic government; of economic opportunity and progress; and of respect for the rights of minorities and disadvantaged groups generally. States have no guarantor of their security in the final analysis other than themselves. The role of the sovereign state is declining as regional and global linkages on the one hand, and private non-governmental contacts between individuals and groups on the other proliferate and strengthen. Inevitably the building of a more secure world will require increasing international cooperation. Regional and global integration will occur, in differing areas, among differing peoples and professions, and at differing speeds. The forms of international association which we devise must be flexible enough to accommodate the resulting stresses. Those parts of the world which do not evolve towards such integration will be badly placed in the international competition for the good things of life. They will slide sooner or later into insecurity.

Governments need to put these facts of international life alongside the experience which so many have acquired so painfully in earlier conflicts of this century: •

World War I demonstrated the futility of war for solving Europe's problems; the Indochina conflicts have shown the same for Southeast Asia in the post-1945 period. The failure of the League of Nations showed that states cannot achieve security by pushing their problems off on to an international body which lacks real power; the United Nations, although not perfect, is a much better organization for upholding world order. World War II demonstrated that people view the past in different ways. It took only one Hitler to reject the consensus on the disutility of force and to seek to use it to establish his own diabolical world order. Saddam 14

Hussein has shown us more recently that this propensity has not disappeared despite all the available lessons to the contrary. But at least out of that experience Germany and Japan did learn new ways and reformed their political structures. The victor powers created an international body with real potential in the United Nations. The Cold War frustrated it, but now it has returned to prominence.

We at the end of the Cold War can also draw some lessons from that experience. We can take encouragement from UN Secretary-General BoutrosGhali's blueprint to make the UN a more effective global security instrument. But the UN cannot do it all. It will be overloaded if all security problems are brought to its councils. There are vital supporting roles to be played by regional and sub-regional organizations in building a viable world order within the current UN framework. There are great challenges and responsibilities before ASEAN and the South Pacific Forum, its neighbouring linkage. I must emphasize the contribution which these organizations can make to security not only in their own neighbourhoods (especially to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar) but also globally through putting forward their own ideas on this subject in the international debate. ASEAN should do this with confidence, bearing in mind its successful record of solving the non-Cold War problems of state development of the post-1945 period. All regional states have much to gain by working for a Pacific-wide structure of co-operation between the sub-regions, that is, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Northeast Asia. But only two of these sub-regions, that is, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, have real cohesion. The third has to be helped to integrate by its regional partners. But most importantly, ASEAN members have thoughts of value to offer to the wider international community in this context. Further, there is the continuing example of ASEAN for those in more troubled regions to consider, especially states of the Gulf, the Maghreb, the other sub-regions of Africa and those of Latin America, not to forget those of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the elements of the former Soviet Union. ASEAN has won great respect internationally. Let it and its members now speak forth on these issues. There are now great opportunities before the region's research institutes, professional service groups, and individual scholars in laying the intellectual foundations of a new world order, on which governments can build. What a time it is to be active in this field!



Question At the beginning of your lecture you discussed the theme of global security to which, quite rightly, you gave a great deal of importance. You said that it was time to begin to move towards a system where force can be used multilaterally to maintain international peace and security. However, your comments regarding the Secretary-General of the United Nations suggest that you are not entirely in agreement with the UN's system of collective security. Is that the case, and do you have some other system in mind, which you could perhaps elaborate on? Professor O'Neill I am generally supportive of what Dr Boutros-Ghali is trying to do. I think the current situation centralizes his authority and the authority of those under him to an undesirable extent. I know from discussions with senior members of his staff in New York earlier this year just what a problem this is; with all of these things happening simultaneously in what we used to call Yugoslavia as well as Somalia, there is very little opportunity to think ahead. It is hard enough just to cope with the problems as they exist. To make the UN a really viable guarantor of world security, it has to think of itself more as the ultimate resort working closely through regional powers and regional linkages. And the way in which it is endeavouring to work with the European Community, in the case of Yugoslavia, is very helpful. This is a sign of things to come, and in this part of the world, obviously ASEAN is going to be very important. But it needs to be an ASEAN that looks out and wants to really solve the Cambodian problem, not an ASEAN that wants to push these sorts of things away. When one looks at other parts of the world, particularly at Africa and the Middle East, one has to ask how can regional organizations that have any real strength be created. It is going to take a long time. Until it happens, I am afraid we are going to be struggling with a global security system which remains weak, overloaded, and shifting its attention rapidly from crisis point to crisis point, rather than being able to take a grand design approach and think of a more 16

planned international security structure based on strong building blocks well distributed throughout the world.

Question I was very interested in your remarks on ZOPFAN. May I know, firstly, whether you think there is a future for ZOPFAN because you seem to give me the impression that you thought ZOPFAN was losing its relevance? Secondly, do you think there is less enthusiasm now in the ASEAN region for this idea of ZOPFAN? And thirdly, do you think that the agreements to allow the United States the use of military facilities in the countries of ASEAN endanger ZOPFAN? Professor O'Neill I do not think ZOPFAN has a great future. It was an arrangement that was a useful consensual device when the Cold War was at its height, but it seems to me now to be a very lop-sided arrangement. With the Russians on the way out of the area, there is no prospect of a mutually antagonistic buildup of superpower forces here. The United States, in some ways, is also on its way out of the area; it is moving out of the Philippines, it is going to reduce its overall force structure in the Pacific, but that does not mean it will reduce the political importance that it gives this part of the world. Firmly maintaining ZOPFAN as an ASEAN policy raises some questions for the rest of the world as to what the leaders of ASEAN are thinking about the nature of future security problems. I have certainly detected a declining enthusiasm on ZOPFAN within other ASEAN members. The agreements that you referred to, which allow for example the United States greater naval access in the region, seem to me to be quite inconsistent with ZOPFAN, although I am aware that there is a vast regiment of diplomats and lawyers who will tell me otherwise. I look at it as a simple political scientist. Giving the United States navy access to one's bases does seem to establish a very close linkage with that country, which is rather distant from the objectives of the ZOPFAN arrangement. However, they are simply my thoughts on the matter as an outsider in the region. I am well aware from discussions I have had in other parts of Southeast Asia that this is a contentious issue, and that there are many Southeast Asians who see it very differently from the way I see it. Question In Cambodia, we see growing Japanese involvement - with UNTAC chaired by a Japanese and the arrival of Japanese troops to join the peacekeeping forces. The presence of these troops reminds us of the Japanese attempt at military domination of Southeast Asia many years ago. Yet, is the security challenge to Southeast Asia confined to only the military aspect? I do not think so. The economic dominance of the Japanese poses a more dangerous 17

challenge. You mentioned that after World War II, Germany and Japan changed their political systems and reformed, presumably for the good of all mankind. But even prominent Japanese scholars have admitted that the Japanese political system is corrupted by money power and gangsters. Could you enlighten us on whether the Japanese political system is a truly great democratic system, and whether the economic dominance of the Japanese will become a security challenge to Southeast Asia? Professor O'Neill Two very relevant questions, and I certainly believe the issues that you have raised are serious ones. I do think Japan is basically an effective democracy, and like most democracies, it has flaws in it. You have mentioned the degree of corruption which exists, you have mentioned the gangsterism. To that one can add the factionalism of the Liberal Democratic Party, and the way in which decisions are made in the higher reaches of that party, which are of great importance for the political debate of the nation and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. I think the Japanese have learnt some important and very painful lessons out of World War II. They have a Constitution which does ultimately favour the forces of openness and liberality. There is a dedication to principle, which eventually will become effective, but that does not mean that all states in the region can relax in the presence of a benevolent, enlightened giant. That giant is not universally enlightened, and not always benevolent, and it needs to be reminded from time to time that other people in the region have rights and have concerns. My own experience of consultations with Japanese on regional issues is that they are alive to these problems when they are raised. There are debates of course in Japan. There are conservative elements that would like to see a return to old policies, but these are very much in the minority, and I do not sense that they are gaining in strength. As Japan continues to develop its economic power, the arguments for reverting to a more primitive, militarilybased sphere of influence become less and less attractive. On your second question, Japanese economic power can become a security problem for the region if the Japanese use it insensitively, just as American economic power could have been in days gone by. I think the Japanese need to be kept acquainted vigorously with the concerns of this region. They need to be brought into frequent rounds of discussion on, for example, the consequences of a failure to obtain agreement on the future of GATT. Of course it is not only the Japanese who have a problem in these regards. From a Southeast Asian point of view, you need to look also very much at the policies of the United States and Europe because they also very much affect those of Japan. And with the support and friendship of the United States and the European Community, Southeast Asia's special interest, vis-a-vis Japan, would be 18

upheld all the better. Hence, the ASEAN PMC extended security dialogue is going to be of very real importance as this part of the world goes through an important transition and Japan continues to grow in economic power.

Question We know that changes bring opportunities. In the light of security challenges for Southeast Asia after the Cold War, what are the economic opportunities that are created, and also what are the opportunities that are enhanced in the light of your talk today? Professor O'Neill I suppose one of the most obvious economic benefits is that ultimately countries of the region will have to spend less on defence - but that day has not yet arrived. There are still lots of security problems - I have referred to them - and I do not see an immediate dividend there. Perhaps the next most obvious area of economic opportunity is the sub-region of Indochina. Vietnam is potentially a rich country, but it has been woefully mismanaged for a long time. The development of trade relationships with the tlow of investment into Vietnam will be of direct economic benefit to other partners. Japan is going to be important in this regard, the United States will be too, so will France, but I think ASEAN will have a share in this. The development of a better situation in Cambodia and Laos will also have dividend for ASEAN. If greater agreement can be reached with China in the absence of the Cold War, the South China Sea - where there are very important mineral resources - can be exploited and developed for the benefit of everyone. I know very well that is no easy matter. I suppose the final economic dividend to be gained is in the growth of integration, which continues in the ASEAN region and will strengthen ASEAN as a competitor on the global scene. I do not want to conclude my remarks just on a regional note. We are looking at an integrating world where blocs are in the process of being formed but we are not sure whether they are going to be outward-looking or inward-looking blocs. We should encourage them to be outward-looking, benefitting from strong competition and strong interaction with other parts of the world. ASEAN should see itself as a major player in that particular dimer sion in the post-Cold War world. Question I was interested in the remark you made about China and the possible instability which may result with the demise of Mr Deng. Could you please elaborate on what you would see as perhaps some of the more likely scenarios when that occurs, and the regional implications? 19

Professor O'Neill Well, the most worrying scenario is an extension of the Tiananmen style of protest which will result in a massive application of force against political reformists with very unclear results. The costs of using military force in the former situation have made it a much less positive means of reasserting government control in the future. Also some of the military themselves have profound doubts about being used to put down reformers. Given that the government has already continued to liberalize on key elements of economic policy, many Chinese, both civilian and military, can see that continued reform in the political arena will be essential if China is not just to become backward and locked in internal conflict. So while the use of the military remains a worrisome prospect, I think the chances of it happening are somewhat less than they were in 1989. Another scenario to think about is a gradual splitting of China into a rapidly developing area and a large backward area. The emphasis that Deng himself has placed on the southeast, the progress that it has made, its links with Hong Kong already show the tremendous potential of that part of China. At the same time, there are huge areas further west and further north which are not making much progress at all, where state-run enterprises dominate, where unwanted goods pile up, where investment is sadly lacking and so on. If that kind of scenario should be accentuated, then we are going to see again an extremely weak and divided China. If that particular scenario occurs, it is not likely to be a great worry for Southeast Asia because the problems will be further north, and it will be more troublesome for Korea, for example. Also a more regionalized China, with the interesting things happening in the south rather than the north, will create a set of provinces having in effect their own foreign policies and their own relations with neighbouring states. The third scenario, the one that worries me most, is just a general slide into chaos as no one seems able to cope with the situation. To prevent it, we should make a big effort to establish all the links that we can with China at this point, not just governmental links but institute to institute, and profession to profession. We should build the basis of a supportive network which will help to tide China through a very difficult process of transformation not unlike that which the states of Eastern Europe are going through now. Question You have provided us with a very comprehensive presentation, but I wonder whether you would like to consider the issue of arms sales as part of a factor in your overall matrix. I am referring to Russian arms sales in particular, and whether this could be a destabilizing factor in the Asia-Pacific security environment. We have had numerous reports over the last few months of the Russians making inroads in terms of weapon sales in the Middle East, selling 48 MiG-29 aircraft to Iran, and 3 Kilo submarines to Iran. In the light of the 20

ebb tide of Iraqi power, perhaps that is significant since Iran seems to be taking off from where Iraq left off in terms of being a dominant power in that part of the Middle East. We have also had numerous reports of sales and prospective sales of weaponry from Russia to China, including new reports of SU-29 flankers, other reports of possible sales of aircraft to Malaysia, and sales of aircraft and other types of weaponry to India, etc. Others have said that this is not too much of a bother simply because in ten years' time we won't be able to find spares for some of these equipment. The Russians, however, may have found a way out in that respect since there have also been reports that they are going to resite some of their weapons factories in India - and that has also been one of the attractions that the Malaysians find in the possibility of buying MiG-29s from Russia. Would you consider Russian arms sales to be a destabilizing factor simply because with the Russian economy in such dire straits, the Russians might be less than totally scrupulous about who they sell some of these arms to?

Professor O'Neill I would be somewhat hypocritical if I did not also say that there are some dangers of that sort posed by continuing Western arms sales to the region. The Russians are unusual in that they have this enormous arsenal that is of little use to them (they know that), they are desperately short for money, and therefore they will sell large items such as the aircraft carrier that is being completed in the Black Sea. If they can realize money on those sorts of things and on the hundreds of quite advanced aircraft they have, why shouldn't they? It is something that the West has been doing for years and years. But of course the whole arms trade poses a major problem. This is something that BoutrosGhali and the UN in the new context have to grapple with. It will not be easy because of the intimate involvement of all five permanent members of the Security Council in the arms trade, and the delicate state of their own economies and the political balances that come from those economic situations. So this is a situation where one shouldn't hold one's breath until results are achieved. I look at arms sometimes rather like drugs; they are around, people use them to bolster their self-esteem, but we acquire them as a gesture of our own initiative. We do not actually have to buy these things if they are not going to do us much good. And in the purchase of weaponry, states have to think very much about what the likely consequences will be for potential regional rivals or actual regional rivals. If we were in a world that was characterized much more by the diplomacy of eighteenth century Europe, then I would be more much more worried than I am. But I think we are now moving into a situation where most states do realize that what they do is of importance to the states next door. There are regional linkages - there are very few as effective as ASEAN - but there are dialogues that have been established, and if one state is acquiring too much cheap Russian weaponry, it will hear about 21

it on the political network from other states in the region, and it can then give pause and decide whether it really wants to accentuate tensions or whether it is going to rein in for its own interests as well as for those of the region as a whole. So I think we have to treat this sudden availability of Russian arms much more as a symptom of a wider global problem than just an evil which has been brought on to us by the end of the Cold War.

Question Your very impressive historical and geographical sweep concentrated perhaps expectedly on the political and military aspects, but in reply to questions you have touched on the economic aspects. The question that I have in mind is the problem caused by the lack of resources available to grasp some of the post-Cold War opportunities for peace that you have described. In reply to the previous question, I think you have made the point that there is not much of a peace dividend available even with the end of the Cold War. I think also the enhanced role for the United Nations that you envisaged, which we all look for, is costly. The particular operations that the Security Council has asked the UN to get involved in of late, have been a very great drain on the United Nations' resources, and the United Nations has never been a particularly prolific, economically set-up organization. There is also the problem that we have in very many parts of the world: the global recession, which means that the countries that might be seeking to make the investments to draw the economic dividend that you mentioned are finding difficulty in so doing. The money required for developmental aid-giving programmes is less and less available. Therefore, isn't there a real danger, because of this lack of resources, that the opportunities that are available simply might not be grasped? Professor O'Neill There is undoubtedly the problem that you mentioned and I will add to it: a tendency of Western public opinion - I think it is true of public opinion in most parts of the world - to become increasingly preoccupied by problems closer to home. As the economic situation pinches, parents think much more about jobs for their children, local politics become much more important as far as the media are concerned, local investment policies, social policies, and so on, all assume a much higher priority than they do in a situation where you have high economic growth and the only real problems to security are ones that are caused by threats a long way away. In those situations, where people have the resources, they are willing to contribute them as we saw them in the Cold War. But now we are in a very different era in many ways. It is distressing to me as someone who deals in international relations to see how increasingly introverted public opinion is in many parts of the world. I find the American presidential election campaign tedious because it so focused on the domestic scene, yet there are many major questions that Bush and Clinton could touch


on that would be of interest from the perspective of the rest of the world. But they dare not, because American public opinion would not tolerate it at this time. So in this situation, what do we do? We have to recognize that our own salvation is in our own hands. A region like Southeast Asia is better off than most, because it is making money rather than losing money, it is creating jobs rather than losing them, and it is pacifying itself as the problems in relations between ASEAN, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos decrease. It does have a real possibility for building resources in a new way, and underpinning security in its own region, and out of that, it will have a capacity to contribute more on the global scene. But it will be a slow process. The United Nations will not be transformed overnight. The way ahead will be difficult for all the reasons you have mentioned, but the example ASEAN gives will be important. If ASEAN cannot make a wider contribution to world order the outlook for all of us will be bleak.

Question With the vacuum that is now being created by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of the United States from the region, in respect of Southeast Asia and Australasia, I would like to know your opinion on the possibility of India and China expanding and coming into the region. Professor O'Neill This is a good question - one that I heard discussed recently while I was in Australia. My perspective on it is that both China and India, while they are very strong military powers on their own domains and within short range of their borders, are really not well suited for reaching out, and acquiring new domains or using force at long range against others. I do not see India as a threat to people in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. In the light of India's experience in Sri Lanka, I do not think that the Indian Government is in any way interested in using military force outside of India. It has had its fingers burnt. Many Indians in influential positions see that the use of military force is something you only agree to in the last resort and it has to be a very serious objective indeed before it is justified. The case of China in the South China Sea is a more difficult issue, because it is quite clear that the Chinese are prepared to use force to sustain a position in the Islands, and of course, they have this long-standing claim to the whole region. With the United States playing a less prominent role, with Russia all but disappeared from the South China Sea, the Chinese just may well choose to tough it out. If this is the case, then I think the interests of other powers, other major powers, are going to be involved as well as those of the ASEAN region, and there will have to be some serious talking done at high levels in region-wide negotiations. There are many important issues at stake for China, going well 23

beyond the South China Sea. The nature of China's economic relationship with the United States and Japan is of obvious relevance. So the West is not without leverage in dealing with China on this issue. ASEAN itself, through its close dialogue with the PMC, can look after its own interests more effectively in consultation with its friends rather than through the assembly of a major military force to do battle with the Chinese in the South China Sea. At the same time, the countries of the region need to maintain whatever linkages they have with useful great powers, and here the remaining naval connection with the United States can be of benefit to the region.

Question It is argued that after Communism, the next danger to the world is Islam. Of

course, Islam is a very monolithic thing, as you all know, it is the same everywhere. Southeast Asia has the largest community of Muslims in the world. To what extent is this a world problem, and to what extent is this relevant to Southeast Asia?

Professor O'Neill Again, a question that is raised in many other parts of the world. Islam is really not a monolithic organization or faith. It shows many approaches to the problems of relations with the non-Islamic community. There are also, of course, important differences in how Islamic states relate to each other. I do not really see Islam as being capable of generating the sort of cohesive, military and political influence that the Soviet Union was able to form through the Warsaw Pact and the political doctrine of Marxism-Leninism. None the less I think there will be problems for the West and for other states of the world in dealing with some of the more radical Islamic countries. Factionalism in some of the more moderate Islamic states will also affect their diplomacy, but the election of a Labour Party government in Israel is a very good sign for the future. I do not mean that a peace settlement with the Arabs is an immediate prospect at all, but steadier progress seems likely. This may help to ease relations between radical Islam and the rest of the world. Just across the former Soviet border, we have many states with substantial Islamic populations, some of whom could be influenced by radical currents. Up to now, on the whole, radical influence has not been so great there. This is something local governments are aware of, as well as influential regional governments. Also, the Russian Government itself is not wanting to cease all involvement with the non-Russian republics, and there are several Western governments and organizations which are looking at those states from the point of view of underpinning stability and preventing their slide into some new kind of radical regime which will polarize their own particular region. Islam will pose some localized security problems, and will continue to be a divisive force both in the Middle East and between the West and some Arab countries. This tension


will give the security of the Gulf and the supply of oil a continuing high priority. But I do not see Islam replacing Russia or the Warsaw Pact of the Cold War as the number one threat in a clearly identifiable sense.


THE AUTHOR Robert O'Neill was appointed Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford in 1987. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Australia, Duntroon (1955-58); University of Melbourne where he took a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) with First Class Honours (1959-60); and Brasenose College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar where he took his BA, MA and D.Phil. in Modern History (1961-65). He was previously Head, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (1971-82) and Professorial Fellow in International Relations in the Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. In 1982 he was appointed Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London which he led for five years. His published works are voluminous, the latest being East Asia, the West and International Security, ed. (1987); The West and the Third World, ed. with John Vincent (1990); and War, Strategy and International Politics, ed. with Lawrence Freedman and Paul Hayes (1992).