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February 09, 2005

Who Cares About Old Europe Anyway? Asia's On Board With the Bush Doctrine

Interesting piece explaining why Asia isn't a bunch of whining bitches about the War on Terror like some continents I could mention:

With the partial exception of Indonesia and Malaysia, Asian states have found they feel comfortable with the US in the age of terror. They understand and generally sympathise with the US's operating principle in this period. All of us in this part of the world have come to our similar positions through our distinctive cultural and political processes, but the commonality of the pro-US posture is almost an illustration of the central tenet of classical realism in foreign policy – that states, regardless of who runs them, will generally act in their strategic interests.

The Bush administration understands it is in much better shape in Asia than in Europe. A US official in Washington recently explained to me why: "There is a structural, or strategic/cultural reason. In Europe the nation-state is 500 years old. Polls show many Europeans have either a pan-European or a sub-national identity. Nationalism is in decline.

"In Asia, nation-states are young, especially the post-colonial states. Sovereignty is incredibly sensitive.

"So a 19th- century balance of power approach comes naturally. US policies, even if they're unpopular, fit the Asian Zeitgeist. In response to 9/11 Southeast Asian leaders really got it. They understand power and are reassured by the US use of power."

This is in great contrast to the EU view which sees nation-states as primitive and wants to dissolve their identitites and sovereignties in the postmodern EU virtual reality.

Nonetheless a balance of power approach is hardly a comprehensive agenda for the US for the future in Asia. But the US official had an answer for that too: "The trend in the region is towards democracy and market liberalisation. No one is going backwards except Burma. So we, the democracies, own the future."


There is at least one sense too in which Thaksin [PM of Thailand and WoT supporter] can be seen as the most democratic of Thailand's leaders. He ran on a specific program, polarised politics around the program, got elected on the program and implemented the program, all of which are extremely novel innovations in Thai history.

Of course there are real negatives as well....

For all that, Sunday's election was an authetnic expression of the Thai national will. It is a result which upsets left-wing intelligentsias everywhere. No wonder it was ignored.

Thailand is as big as Germany, and yet, for some reason, Judy Woodruff doesn't want to talk about it.

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posted by Ace at 03:15 PM

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