Dr. Fukuyama echos Dr. Barnett’s calls for an Asian NATO. The first approach to to ignore John F. Kerry’s myopia and continue with the Six Party Talks
The White House has an opportunity to create a visionary institutional framework for the region. In the short term, it can do so by turning the six-party talks on North Korea into a permanent five-power organization that would meet regularly to discuss various security issues in the region, beyond the North Korean nuclear threat. In the long term, Washington will need to consider ways of linking this security dialogue to the various multilateral economic forums now in existence or under consideration, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the ASEAN-plus-three group, which was formed in the wake of the Asian economic crisis and includes China, Japan, and South Korea; and the developing free-trade areas. Asian multilateralism will be critical not just for coordinating the region’s booming economies, but also for damping down the nationalist passions lurking beneath the surface of every Asian country.
But Fukuyama looks beyond the current crisis and sees the power balance of a united Korea (with the typical Chinese-Japanese tensions)
Several recent incidents have brought latent tensions to the surface. Despite burgeoning trade between China and South Korea, relations recently became strained when government-sponsored Chinese researchers asserted that the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, which 2,000 years ago stretched along the current China-North Korea border, was once under Chinese control. The ensuing fight had to be papered over with a five-point accord negotiated by the countries’ foreign ministries. Beijing’s motives for allowing publication of the article are unclear, but they may have been related to rising nationalism in China and loose talk in Seoul about founding a “greater Korea” that would include not just the North and the South but also the more than 2 million ethnic Koreans currently living in Manchuria.
Meanwhile, the growing economic interdependence of China and Japan has not mitigated nationalist passions, but exacerbated them. At an Asian Cup soccer game in August 2004 in Beijing, Chinese fans screamed, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” at the winning Japanese team, forcing it to flee China. This event followed on the heels of several other ugly and apparently spontaneous displays of anti-Japanese feeling and outrage over the use of hired female “companions” in southern China by 300 Japanese businessmen.
Heightening security concerns threaten the Japanese-South Korean relationship and could spark an arms race. Ten years ago, while doing research in Tokyo, I was told by a number of officers in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces that in the event of Korean unification, the combined military of North and South Korea would be close to ten times the size of Japan’s. If Korean troop strength did not fall dramatically at that point, they said, Japan would have to take appropriate defensive measures. Not only does this risk remain, but today there is the added factor of North Korea’s nuclear weapons–and what a potentially united Korea would do with them. In a recent Tokyo Shimbun poll, 83 of 724 members of the Japanese Diet said publicly that Japan should consider becoming a nuclear power in light of the North Korean threat, an assertion that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
The solution is clear: multilateralism. Fukuyama goes onto endorse a two-tracked approach. As with Europe, there should be a security organization encompassing both regional players and the U.S. If we are going to build on the current Five Parties, this military alliance would encompass Japan, a united Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, and possibly Russia. There should also be an Asian “EU” which melds together the economies of Japan, Korea, and China.
This is smart. Directly participating in a swaydo Northern Pacfic Treaty Organization and working with an Asian Union, the U.S. can banish disconnectedness and hook the Asian powers in a permanent peaceful system. Because of American leadership, war in Europe is unthinkable.
Dr. Barnett once said Asia today is just like Europe, except a paranoid and bitter East Germany (North Korea) is hanging on. We may be closer to an ever-peaceful Asia than we realize. NPTO and AU — let’s go!