The Unraveling of Island Asia? Governmental, Communal, and Regional Instability

By Bruce Vaughn | Go to book overview

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Internal Conflict and Regional Security in Island Asia: Stabilizing the “Arc of Instability”

BENJAMIN REILLY

The focus of this chapter is on the regional security implications of internal conflict—such as secessionist movements, civil wars, and ethnic conflicts—in Island Asia. Across the world, intrastate conflicts, which take place within existing states, make up the vast majority of contemporary armed conflicts. In contrast to the wars between states of former years, the weight of conflict types in the world today has shifted precipitously toward those that take place wholly or predominantly within existing states. Of the 110 major armed conflicts in the ten-year period between 1989 and 1999, for example, only seven were traditional interstate conflicts. 1 The remaining 103 took place within existing states and were mostly based around identity-related issues.

The emerging pattern of violent internal conflicts in many Southeast Asian and South Pacific states is one of the clearest examples of this phenomenon. In recent years, island Asia states have been particularly prone to intrastate conflicts, with violent ethnic wars present throughout the last decade in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. In addition the previously tranquil region of the South Pacific has also been beset by violent internal conflicts and the overthrow of democratically elected regimes in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Indeed, almost every country in the region is currently beset by some kind of self-

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