Assessment: Asian Pacific Security the Asian Pacific Region

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Asian Pacific Security

The Asian Pacific region has been problematical in the world of International Affairs for at least the past two centuries. The emergence of a modernized Japan and China changed the paradigm of the area; and the idea of European-based cultures in Australia and New Zealand only complicating matters further. In addition, the manner in which cultures and civilizations interact with one another in the post-Cold War world, called by at least one academic the "clash of civilizations," has particular meaning in the geopolitical realm of the Asian-Pacific region.

Using the paradigm of the "clash of civilizations," we find that the primary source of conflict has specific reference to the Asian-Pacific region: cultural, rather than ideological or economic competition.. The theory itself was part of a lecture given at the American Enterprise Institute (Huntington, 1992), then further developed in an article in Foreign Affairs (Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, 1993; and (Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, 1997). Both were a response to other theoretical notions coming out of the literature of the time.

At the center of the paradigm is the definition of culture, which has differing meanings depending on the chronology in history, the particular subject matter, and the formalization of a particular pattern of behavior -- so complex that one scholarly paper lists almost 200 definitions (Kroeber, 1952). This is particularly problematic with Asia. One can find socio-political and even cultural trends that arose out of Europe, even with distinctions in countries and backgrounds. However, this is not necessarily true for Asian cultures, who have tended to spread in a less than homogeneous manner and taken quite different patterns towards development. Still, for most historians and political scientists, culture may be defined as a set of standard attitudes, values, goals, practices, morals, and ethics that result in kindred behavior from an institution, organization, or group (Moore, 2008, intro). Cultural ideology, though, changed during the 20th century. Globalization has had a remarkable effect on both the technological developments and cultural attributes the world's population. Instant global communication is now possible, and individuals know they can instantly communicate with almost anyone - anywhere in the world -- and at an affordable cost. The more technology improves, the more this global economy, culture, and society develops. Of course, globalization continues to break down societal barriers, and one of the key elements to this is communication. For this communication to evolve and prosper it is necessary for a paradigm shift to occur focusing on the way individuals, at a micro level) and political or social institutions (at a macro level) view the world. This new culture is more of a level playing field in terms of economics and culture, in contrast to the 19th and 20th centuries when the larger imperial powers were the developers of policy and controlled more of the world's economic trade and resulting benefits. Instead, the trend is towards a global marketplace where historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant (Friedman, 2007).

the inevitability of cultural clash between the major cultural arenas, many times based more on linguistics and ethnicity than political divergence.

Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition, and most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizens and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are a product of centuries. They will not soon disappear (Huntington, 1993, 25).

For Huntington, it is the manner in which cultures are organized that forms their own uniqueness and hegemony. Civilizations then can consist of social groups, may or may not be geographically near one another, but have similarities that are historically based.

His map below gives a brief outline of the way his theory may coalesce individuals into binding units that act or react in similar measures.

Structurally, Huntington breaks the major civilizations into the following groups -- See Figure 1.

This rather dramatic shift in the way the world is organized began after World War II. Post-World War II, of course, began the decades long Cold War between communism and democracy -- ostensibly. The world was divided more into the supporters of the United States and the supporters of the Soviet Union and Communist China. After the collapse of Soviet Power, the new Russian oligarchy operates more in a cultural manner than political, and the large military-industrial complexes that ruled the world during the Cold War have been replaced by multinational corporations, often non-U.S. based, that shift the economic and political power to the two challenger civilizations, Sinic and Islam (Huntington, 1997, 168-70, 240-46).

In the modern age of globalism, however, it is difficult to focus simply on the Sinic civilization group. China, for instance, partners with Iran for oil and, in turn, provides a means of gaining technology. China holds a large portion of U.S. debt, making it difficult for the United States to exert pressure while at the same time professing openess in relationships with all its own Asian partners. For instance, what is China's role as a determiner of Asian security? The entire idea of cultural challenge in the Asian region has undergone dramatic shifts over the past few decades with Japan losing its dominance and China and Korea gaining strides.

The two great powers of Asia, Japan and China, were both similar and different concerning the manner in which both emerged as powerful, industrial nations in the 20th century, and, at least for China, are poised on the precipice of being a mega-power economically for the 21st century. Both countries came from a long tradition of relative isolation, looking internal to develop and maintain their cultural identity. Japan, of course, with its long tradition of feudalism that developed an almost "cultish" paradigm; China who, after conquering most of the Eastern world, pulled back into a hierarchical, but ineffective, society that was a mere shadow of its former glory and aggressive tenacity.

At the end of the 19th century, Japan realized it would need to industrialize and modernize of fade into a minor blip on the international relations scenario -- with other powers, namely Russia, hungry for its lands and fishing rights. In 1895 Japan won a brief war against China over Korea causing the European powers discomfort. However, the Japanese now know that in order to become a power of their own, they must remain steadfast and create an international presence, demanding equality on the international scene. This, of course, did not happen and in 1904 launched a war against Russia with two specific gains in mind: expansion of territory on the Asian mainland and security for Japan by proving their dominance of Manchuria and Korea. Surprising to the rest of the world, Japan beat Russia, sending a clear message to Europe -- we are now an imperial power and must be respected as such. The hubris from winning this war, plus an internal socio-political arrogance resulted in Japan's rapid industrialization and militarization during the early part of the 20th century. Japan did join the Allies in World War I, contributing to its industrial boom, and continued belief that Japan should dominate China. In fact, the decision to bomb the United States in Hawaii was taken because Japan knew the U.S. was completely opposed to Japan's concept of being dominant in China. Thus, the small nation of Japan became a formidable part to the Axis powers in the Pacific and, for a time, emerged as the top power in the region. After the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, however, Japan surrendered and entered into yet another new paradigm of development (Greenville, 2005).

Japan has always been an enigma to its neighbors in Asia. Being such a closed country for so long, then trying to rapidly industrialize, beating Russia in the 1905 war, and then modernizing and, for such a small island, almost winning a World War with the West. After WWII and the reconstruction of Japan, it has certainly been far more Western than Eastern -- culture, trade, entertainment, political and cultural ties, government, and a staunch U.S. ally against the U.S.S.R. And Red China. It is with banking and trade, though, that Japan has aligned more with the West, indeed -- Nissan, Honda, Subaru, etc. are all very important auto brands in the United States.

China, however, had a different pattern, and emerged in quite a different manner post-World War II. After centuries of aggressive rule, the 19th century found the Ching dynasty in decline and conflicts with Japan rising. The West increased its trade in the 19th century, and therefore had a reason to limit Japan's political influence in the vast land, culminating the early 20th century watching other power breaking it apart into various spheres of influence with Japan vying for control of most of Manchuria. This culmination of a vast disaffected… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Asian Pacific Security the Asian Pacific Region.  (2010, August 4).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/asian-pacific-security/68716

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"Asian Pacific Security the Asian Pacific Region."  Essaytown.com.  August 4, 2010.  Accessed June 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/asian-pacific-security/68716.