Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This week's readings unfortunately retread ground covered before, because they are about terrorism in parts of the world I've already covered. But, here they are regardless:

Chien-peng Chung, “China's "War on Terror”: September 11 and Uighur Separatism.” Foreign Affairs. 81(4) (July-August 2002), pp. 8-12,

David Capie, “Between a Hegemon and a Hard Place: the ‘War on Terror’ and Southeast Asian-US Relations,” The Pacific Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (June 2004), pp. 223-248

Chung's piece very helpfully rehashes arguments made before about Uighur separatism, especially that hard fighting is not going to do much to solve it. Instead, China needs to focus on meeting Uighur needs and forming some kind of peace. The major problem with the piece is that Chung completely ignores the fact that Han nationalism is one of the constitutive parts of Chinese legitimacy these days, and so it cannot go too far in appeasing the Uighurs without losing legitimacy among the Han. (This can be seen in the riots that happened after the police did not start locking up all the Uighurs during the panic over hypodermic jabbings in Xinjiang.) So, while I can certainly hope that China will do something, I'm not optimistic.

Capie's piece is an interesting, if rather academic, look at how Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines have all responded to the post 9/11 American foreign policy. I am not at all surprised that the realist predictions all fall through (none of them are balancing against the US! Yet, none are fully bandwagoning either!) nor that Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory doesn't offer much help. (Weirdly, Capie consistently misspells Huntington's name as "Huntingdon".) Instead, it is domestic factors along with external factors that determine the overall policies.

One interesting thing I'd never seen before was the idea of the "Rumsfeld Principle," in which the mission defines the coalition (rather than vice versa). Perhaps it's my inherent love for middle ground rather than extremes, but it seems that this is another way of saying "We're doing it our way, come with us or not." This is never a good way to make policy or decisions; you need to accept input from all around before "defining the mission."

In general, personally, I'd like to see terrorism become less of a priority, with perhaps "instability" taking it's place, at least as far as Pacific Asia is concerned. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand are all fairly representative governments, and further democratization and economic development would likely make them even more stable, thus decreasing the range of motion for terrorists and reducing the chances of overall war in the region. They could also make good examples for a certain more northern behemoth. Just narrowly targeting "terrorism" on the other hand does nothing to solve the greater problems.

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