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Research Report

NETWORKING ASIAN SECURITY: An Integrated Approach to Order in the Pacific

Richard Fontaine
Patrick Cronin
Mira Rapp-Hooper
Harry Krejsa
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2017
Pages: 52

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. 1-1)
  3. (pp. 2-2)
  4. (pp. 3-4)

    The United States faces a dilemma in Asia. It wishes to preserve a balance of power, reinforce the rulesbased regional order, avoid conflict, and maintain stable economic relations with China, all at the same time, and all at acceptable cost. While carrying off such a balancing act would be a challenge even in a region of strategic stability, today numerous drivers complicate the effort. Beijing couples rising assertiveness with a military modernization effort that directly affects U.S. and allied defense capabilities. North Korea is ever-erratic, routinely testing missiles and nuclear weapons, and terrorism is an everpresent challenge across the region....

  5. (pp. 5-6)

    The argument that 21st century geopolitics calls for networking in Asia naturally begs a prior question: Why were U.S. Asian alliances constructed in a bilateral, hub-and-spokes structure in the first place, while Washington chose a multilateral structure for Europe? In the past 70 years, numerous factors have changed in Asia, enhancing the argument for networked ties in a region that has not traditionally been defined by them.

    The most obvious driver behind the U.S. preference for individual, bilateral pacts in Asia as opposed to one multilateral organization pertains to geography and threat perception.³ Unlike in Europe, where numerous partners worried...

  6. (pp. 7-11)

    In light of these changes, the United States over recent years has come increasingly to embrace a concept of networked security in Asia as a supplement to its five bilateral treaty alliances.⁹ The fullest explication of Washington’s approach was given by then–Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in 2016. In his and other descriptions, Asian security networking is premised on the notion that U.S. allies themselves are increasingly capable; networking seeks to link them with each other and with non-allied partners. The aim of this approach is to create new economies of scale and encourage partners to cooperate on mutual...

  7. (pp. 12-15)

    For Beijing, any Asia-Pacific security network that excludes China may appear as little more than an attempt at encirclement. No matter how meticulously designed, any security network will offer its detractors cause to highlight a hidden, malicious agenda. As a result, network architects must acknowledge that their efforts are likely to raise alarm bells in Beijing—and possibly elicit concrete responses. They must also work to mitigate this perception problem, and to anticipate possible reactions from China and plan for them. Indeed, to the extent that U.S. and regional security considerations allow, Beijing should even be included in network activities...

  8. (pp. 16-23)

    No Asian country has internalized the drivers, as well as the pros and cons, of security networking as seriously as Japan. The leader of America’s cornerstone northeast Asian ally is determined to rebrand Japan’s postwar identity from that of a civil power to a more “normal” one. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pegged his legacy to the “generational challenge” of rewriting his country’s constitution to legitimize its Self-Defense Force.34 How successful Japan is in fleshing out an array of security partnerships from what he once dubbed the “democratic diamond” of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India will go a...

  9. (pp. 24-31)

    Formalized in the 1951 Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) Security Treaty, the U.S.-Australia alliance was established on a half-century foundation of military, economic, and cultural ties. It is often remarked that only Australia has fought alongside the United States in every major U.S. conflict during the past century, and today the two governments enjoy extraordinarily close defense and intelligence ties. Their militaries are highly interoperable, with shared technology and experience in training and exercising together. Both countries are members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing relationship, and they share an enormous range of information and assessments. U.S. Marines have a...

  10. (pp. 32-34)

    Aside from the United States, Australia and Japan are now each other’s leading security partners. While the United States has been supportive of their growing warmth, Canberra and Tokyo have come to this relationship very much of their own initiative. Australia has welcomed Japan’s efforts to return to a more “normal” defense posture and take on a greater security leadership role in Asia, while acknowledging that Japan’s constitution continues to impose limits on the scope of its activities.107 Japan has sought to cooperate with Australia across a spectrum of military and information-sharing activities.

    At the heart of this alignment is...

  11. (pp. 35-39)

    The U.S. goal in increasing Asian security connectivity should be to ensure a stable and more prosperous region, protective of longstanding rules and norms and consonant with American strategic interests. The five bilateral alliances the United States maintains in the region will and should remain the strategic backbone of American engagement in Asia. Yet they should be supplemented by establishing new security partnerships, enhancing older ones, and encouraging intra-regional ties that do not include the United States. This section offers several policy prescriptions to that end.

    Security networking can take several forms. It may consist of closer ties inside of...

  12. (pp. 40-48)
  13. (pp. 49-50)