Monday, April 20, 2015

Asia Pacific Security and the USA

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Andrew Hurrell, University of Oxford, is speaking on "Global Order after U.S. Hegemony: Challenges for Asia and the Pacific". Professor Hurrell, suggested the greatest challenge for scholars was to conceive what might be a new world order where the USA and other western countries are not dominant. He briefly mentioned concerns such as cyberwar.

Professor Hurrell, discussed how previous assumptions that there would be a stable world order had been overthrown and there would instead be continuing "Westphalian" challenges. Not being a historian, I am not sure what this implies. But it seems to me clear that as US and western economic dominance declines, their global power will also decline. As an example, Australia has decided to join the China backed "Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank", against the wishes of the USA.

China has progressed slowly to have a blue water navy. It may take another decade before it can mass produce aircraft carriers and perhaps even longer to produce aircraft for them. However, Professor Hurrell pointed out there are other forms of power projection. When in Samoa some years ago to teach a course, I noticed that China has given the country an impressive government building. More humorously, the locally employed guard outside the US Peace Corps compound was wearing a People's Liberation Army cap (I assume he got it cheap in the local market). 

Professor Hurrell claimed that domestic politics would become more important in the future, so that national dominance by China and India will be less significant. This sounded to me like someone from an English university hoping for a return to an era when the British Empire would manipulate the internal politics of Asia for its own ends. I suggest the opposite is more likely. At the moment a rag tag non-state group such as ISIS is able to manipulate domestic politics in Australia by the use of Internet based propaganda.

Professor Hurrell had published numerous papers and his latest book is "On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution of International Society" 2008). He is also giving seminar on "Global Governance: Can the Centre Hold?"
at ANU on Wednesday afternoon.

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