Cooperative Security and the Balance of Power in ASEAN and ARF

Cooperative Security and the Balance of Power in ASEAN and ARF

Cooperative Security and the Balance of Power in ASEAN and ARF

Cooperative Security and the Balance of Power in ASEAN and ARF


In this book, Emmers addresses the key question: to what extent may the balance of power play a part in such cooperative security arrangements and in the calculations of the participants of ASEAN and the ART?


The major achievement of this book is the reintroduction of the balance of power as a conceptual category for explaining the evolution of the key security associations in Southeast Asia, namely the long-standing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that was founded in 1967 and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that was established in 1994. Ralf Emmers uses the concept of the balance of power in two basic ways. First, he demonstrates the continuing significance of the well-established way of using it to explain how in managing security relations between the great powers so as to prevent the emergence of regional hegemony the balance also contributes to sustaining the independence of other lesser states. With regard to Southeast Asia this refers particularly to relations between the United States and China. Second, and more strikingly, Emmers shows how the balance of power, conceived in political (as opposed to conventional security) terms has been central to the inner development of ASEAN itself.

This approach runs counter to contemporary mainstream explanations that stress constructivism or modes of expressing particular group identities for the development of ASEAN and cooperative security for the development of the ARF. It is one of the strengths of this book that instead of engaging in a polemic against these approaches, Emmers concentrates on demonstrating how his balance of power approach actually helps us to understand the internal dynamics of the evolution of these two key organizations. Indeed the book may be seen as a text for explaining the underlying forces driving security cooperation and what constrains that cooperation in the Southeast Asian region.

Unusually for a book based on a PhD thesis, it is free of much of the scholasticism that is often so tiresome for the interested reader. Instead its arguments and narratives of events are fluently presented without sacrificing the core scholarly strengths that underpin them. This is very much to the credit of Dr Emmers himself, but it also reflects the influence of his supervisor, the great scholar of Southeast Asian politics, the late Professor Michael Leifer, to whose memory the book is dedicated.


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