Directions in Multilateral Security Cooperation

By Maceda, Ernesto M. | Manila Bulletin, January 5, 2001 | Go to article overview

Directions in Multilateral Security Cooperation


Maceda, Ernesto M., Manila Bulletin


IN addition, the Philippines and the United States will be having more periodic consultations on broader regional security policy. Since the Gulf War of 1990, Washington has resorted increasingly to international coalition building and multilateral security cooperation when confronting security threats to its alliances. Americans want their ..... Cold-War peace dividend. They believe that the allies should now take greater responsibility for common security, with primary emphasis on their own regions.

Washington's backing for Canberra's lead role in East Timor reflects this kind of thinking. The West generally saw East Timor as a regional rather than as an internal Indonesian crisis. Washington encouraged a multilateral approach to the crisis that placed regional countries out in front in the common effort to help stabilize East Timor. The Americans provided key logistical support for international operations in East Timor, but, otherwise, they stayed well in the background. Such multilateral approaches are being talked about in Washington as a possible model for future regional crisis management.

The Clinton Administration has enunciated a policy of building especially strong ties with what American policy makers have called major regional states. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has identified four such states, one each in a key region: Indonesia in Asia; the Ukraine in Eastern Europe; Colombia in South America; and Nigeria in Africa. These four have common characteristics. They are all emerging democracies. They are of major strategic importance within their regions. They have had governmental cohesion and effectiveness in their post-dictatorship development.

Washington policymakers are also interested in closer cooperation among America's allies and friends in the AsiaPacific. Some would like to see multilateral military exercises in the region. Closer cooperation activities for such search and rescue and natural disaster management is being examined.

US regional security policy has been most successful in Europe. Washington has spearheaded a special Southeastern Europe initiative, and it has brought together the new nations the former Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union its partnership for peace program with NATO members and friends of the West. It is premature to say whether these same approaches can be transplanted to the Asia-Pacific.

On top of this, we must consider the broadening discussion in the United States on the structure and deployment of America's forward military presence that would be best suited for the 21st Century strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific.

If, for the sake of argument, Seoul and Pyongyang conclude a durable peace and agree on a reunification formula, how will this affect the 100,000 United States troops that are now deployed in the region, mainly as a deterrent against aggression on the Korean Peninsula? Would the United States draw down its forces across the board, or will there be realignments between forces committed on land and those devoted to littoral and sea-based missions?

The last is a key consideration, because the seas of the Asia-Pacific may become zones of intensified strategic competition. Our region has numerous maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Straits. The vast bulk of the region's international trade and all-important oil routes are sea-borne. Arguments over offshore hydrocarbon deposits and other marine resources, may exacerbate disputes that are well contained today. A naval race in the region, as well as a missile race in the region, is not inconceivable.

The Philippines, will be a partner of the United States through the bilateral RP-US alliance as well as through various regional initiatives focused on Asia-Pacific security. We will continue to work closely in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which is the region's sole body for regional security consultations. …

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