The EU's Approach to Security in Asia
John de Boer (University of Tokyo & GLOCOM Platform)
One year has passed since the terrorist attacks on the United States. Ever since 9/11/2001, the focal point of the US-led campaign on terrorism has been in Asia. The most obvious battlefronts have been in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia with Muslim separatist and extremist groups being linked in one way or the other with Al-Qaeda and international terrorism. An extension of this war on terrorism has been the targeting of what President Bush calls "the axis of evil" to which he has identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea. These countries, in particular Iraq and North Korea, have been classified as a threat to civilization because their dictatorial and oppressive leaders represent a "menace to global security" through the Weapons of Mass Murder that they possess.
The objective of this week's EU Report is to touch upon one crucial difference that exists between EU and Japanese approaches to Asian security problems as opposed to the US. This report is largely based on a recent speech given by The Rt Hon Chris Patten at Chattam House in London 6 September 2002 on the relationship between the EU and Asia. The report has been further supplemented by numerous newspaper reports from around the world dealing with security threats in Asia.
Security concerns figure largely in EU policy vis-a-vis Asia. However, there is one crucial distinction that needs to be emphasized between the US and Europe/Japan. Similar to Japan, and contrary to the US, Europe's definition of "security" considers a wide range of factors. These include poverty, the lack of democracy, human rights abuses and crime in addition to traditional security issues such as nuclear proliferation, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Japan's promotion of the concept of "human security", which links the individual to the state by trying to deal with the root causes of insecurity is reflective of this European approach. On the other hand, the US maintains allegiance to traditional concepts of security, and has pursued a strategy based on the use of force in order to deal with terrorist and tyrant threats.
This difference in approach is evident in the foreign policies of each actor towards Asia. One interesting statistic mentioned by Chris Patten was that over the past year the EU accounted for 30% of global overseas development assistance to Asia. During the same year Japan accounted for 50% while the United States only accounted for 9% of total ODA to Asia. The motivation behind Europe's heavy involvement in Asia, according to Patten, has to do with the EU objective of "building global partnerships and alliances" to ensure "a strong rule based multilateral system" (Speech). This is an obvious reproach to the US's tendency to act on its own, as it is threatening to do in the case of Iraq.
In relation to Iraq and North Korea, the US warns against engagement. It has for long advocated a hard line and is expressing caution towards the Japanese Prime Minister, Koizumi's, upcoming visit to Pyongyang on 17 September. The US Ambassador to Japan, Howard Baker Jr., commented in a 10 September AP article that, "Koizumi has done a courageous thing, perhaps even a politically dangerous thing" (Audrey McAvoy). In his article in the LA Times, Victor Cha outlined that while the EU and Japan prefer dialogue with North Korea, the US believes that coercion and possibly force is the only way to remove the danger posed by North Korea ("Koizumi's North Korea Risk" 6 September). In terms of Iraq, both Japan and the EU have clearly indicated that they prefer an "international approach" and "not a unilateral offensive" (See Hans Greimel, "Koizumi stresses international approach on Iraq").
By strengthening Europe's bonds with Asia through ODA and other forms of cooperation, the EU believes it can strengthen ties with Asian governments and create a more balanced international political system that will force the US to refrain from unilateralism. The aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the US has witnessed heightened tension throughout Asia. US threats to invade Iraq and use coercive force against North Korea and other targets in Asia has only exacerbated the instability. As far as the EU is concerned, the only way to increase security and stability in Asia is through a multilateral approach to the whole range of security needs starting from the individual and extending to the state and beyond. Only time will tell whether the EU in cooperation with Japan and the rest of Asia will be able to persuade the US against going in on its own.
- Chris Patten, "The relationship between the EU and Asia - one or many?" Chattam House, London, 6 September 2002.
- Kozo Mizoguchi, "Japan's Koizumi departs for talks with Bush, September 11 Memorial in New York", Associated Press, 9 September 2002
- Audrey McAvoy, "US Envoy cautiously welcomes Koizumi's North Korea trip", Associated Press, 10 September 2002.
- Hans Greimel, "Koizumi stresses international approach on Iraq in meeting with Bush", Associated Press, 7 September 2002.
- Editorial, "Koizumi's Dangerous Gambit", Far Eastern Economic Review, 12 September 2002.
- Victor Cha, "Koizumi's North Korea Risk", LA Times, 6 September 2002.
- "US acts on Asian terror threats" BBC, 10 September 2002.