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«Comprehensive Security: Challenge For Pacific Asia♠ James C. Hsiung New York University Abstract This study identifies the origin, components, and ...»

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According to the latest reports, unusually high temperatures, drought, and forest fires brought suffering and death through the European continent and the British isles in the summer of 2003. Preliminary estimates of farm losses alone rose to billions of dollars.23 The news proved that global warming is not a problem limited only to any one particular or regional terrain. Considering the depleting fishery, forestry, and other resources, invoking the specter of global economic decline, and raising doubts as to the sustainability of global economic development, Brown motto that we should be eplacing economics with ecology” (pp. 8-10) is a counsel of wisdom for all. In fact, the earliest official recognition of environmental hazards as a threat to national security probably went back to President George Bush, Sr. A 1991 presidential document summarizing the United States’ national security objectives included ssuring ***Author: I can quite tell from the quote, but I think this should be nsure” instead of ssure.” If this is the case, sic]” needs to be inserted right after ssuring” in the quote to indicate that the mistake was in the original quoted material.*** the sustainability and environmental security of the planet... ” (emphasis added).24 Human Security (Human Development) Human security and human development fall into a continuum concerning human well-being. The former deals with the psychological end state of development instead of the more mechanical aspects of human development.25 At a minimum, it is based on an individual and collective sense of protection from perceived present and potential threats to physical and psychological well-being from all manner of agents urope Sizzles and Suffers in a Summer of Merciless Heat,” New York Times, 6 August 2003, p. 3.

Cited in Gareth Porter, nvironmental Security as a National Security Issue,” Current History (May 1995), p. 221.

UNDP, Human Development Report 1993: Report of the United Nations Development Program (New York: U.N. PIO, 1993). See discussion in UNA-USA, A Global Agenda: Issues Before the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999).

and forces affecting lives, values, and property.26 Human security is often subject to domestic structural conflict, or inequities of society (such as gross inequality in income distribution), and brute atrocities by the victims’ own government, as has happened with increasing frequency in the past two decades in Rwanda and elsewhere. But these atrocities are not a monopoly of African nations. The Kosovo crisis dramatized the modern vulnerability of individuals to state aggression even in a European country.27 Large-scale atrocities, crime, and terrorism, such as in the thnic cleansing” conducted by the self-designated central government in the disintegrating Yugoslavia, committed by governments against their own people were shocking to human conscience but also testified that brute violations of human security are not exclusively a third-world problem.

Although state terrorism is the most shocking and outrageous assault on the sanctity of human security, other less dramatic, although no less disconcerting, sources of human insecurity exist, such as:28 Income inequality, Clean water shortage, Illiteracy, Food shortage, Housing shortage, and Infectious diseases.

Infectious diseases, especially, are a devastating scourge for Africa. A reported 23 million people in sub-Sahara Africa were said to have begun the twenty-first century with a death sentence imposed by HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. For the first time in the modern era, life expectancy for an entire region is declining, threatening the economic future of 800 million people in sub-Sahara Africa; and it is declining by 20 years or more.29 The AIDS epidemic is not limited to Africa, however. Two countries in the CaribbeanHaiti and the Bahamasare the worst hit outside the African continent, according to a United Nations report. The infection rates are five percent in Haiti and more than four percent in the Bahamas. AIDS has made inroads in Asia, too.

Thomas Weiss, et al., The United Nations and Changing World Politics, 2d ed. (Boulder, CO:

Westview Press, 1997), p. 260.

Lloyd Axworthy, ATO New Security Vocation,” NATO Review (Winter, 1999), pp. 8-11.

Michael Renner, Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurity (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), p. 81.

Brown, et al., eds., State of the World 2000, pp. xviii; 4.

According to a New York Times report (28 June 2000), the total number of people in India living with HIV was the second highest in the world behind South Africa.

Although the statistic is difficult to verify, 600,000 people in China either had AIDS or were infected with HIV, according to a shocking announcement from Chinese Minister of Health, Zhang Wenkang, at the U.N. summit on AIDS held in June 2001 in New York. 30 A more recent estimate by Beijing was that more than one million Chinese were infected with the HIV by the end of 2002. An estimate by the United Nations and the U.S. National Intelligence Council suggests that China could have between 10 and 15 million infected citizens by 2010. But a more serious problem for China, at least in terms of the number of people affected, is Hepatitis B and C, which currently have infected more than 200 million people.31 Closer to home, reports showed a small but sharp rise in new HIV infections in San Francisco for 1997–1999. The New York Times, in a report on 1 July 2000, estimated that, despite aggressive prevention campaigns mounted in 1982, the number of new HIV infections in San Francisco had nearly doubled since 1996. The discovery gave no comfort to those who had hoped that the epidemic would be brought under control by the turn of the century.

Poverty is one more threat to human security. While an international conference on AIDS was being held in his country, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was quoted by the New York Times, 11 July 2000, as saying that xtreme poverty,” rather than AIDS, was the igger killer” in South Africa. President Mbeki was supported by no less prestigious an environmentalist than Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Denmark, who believed that the world nd global poverty before global warming.”32 should


In closing this discussion, I wish to note the at-times close linkage among the three components of comprehensive security. The recent SARS attack on the Asian region is a ready example for this linkage. Although there is yet no consensus as to SARS’ exact origin, the syndrome apparently resulted from less-than-sanitary conditions (hence, an environmental problem). Its victims were the hundreds of Bates Gill and Sarah Palmer, he Coming AIDS Crisis in China,” New York Times, 16 July 2001, Op Ed page.

Bjorn Lomberg, he Environmentalists Are Wrong,” New York Times, 26 August 2002, Op Ed page (p. 15).

people stricken by the non-traditional virus, including those who perished (hence, an invasion of human security). Another victim was the economy (an inroad of economic security), as the epidemic slowed down production and trade; snarled business transactions; grounded flights; put travel and tourism at a halt; and created costs of premature deaths of income earners, lost work days of sick employees, higher hospitalization and treatment, and so on. Although a preliminary estimate of resulting costs was $11 billion, the final tally could be well over $50 billion.33


In sum, comprehensive security is going to gain increasing importance in the twenty-first century. The three forms of security under this generic rubric will compete with the traditional version of security (or national defense) for the attention of the security managers. After September 11, the traditional idea of national security has an antiterrorist offshoot, which has both an international orientation (as the target enemies are the faceless Al Qaeda legions and their affiliates scattered abroad) and a domestic defense line ( omeland security”). As such, the new antiterrorist brand of national security shares a commonality with comprehensive security in at least two senses: First, in both cases, the borders of a country are becoming less relevant as a shield against external threats to security. Second, in the antiterrorist security perspective, no less than in comprehensive security, individuals are more apt to be the first-line direct victims of an exogenous attack on one country.


In this section, we will examine the challenge to Pacific Asia in all three areas of comprehensive security as defined above. Although most of the problems are not limited to the Asian region alone, and some may be universal, we will note how the region reacts to these threats and if some lessons learned here may throw light on other regions.

Asian Economic Security, Financial Crisis of 1997–1999, and the Future Pacific Asia as a region enjoyed relative obscurity until the late 1980s, when its rapid economic growth oaring in the 6–9 percent range over the preceding two decades without slackening irst caught the fancy, even envy, of the wider world.

Trish Saywell, Geoffrey A. Fowler, and Shawn W. Crispin, he Cost of SARS: $11 Billion and Rising,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 24 April 2003, pp. 12-17.

According to a study of the World Bank, the region eight igh performance” economies34 during 1960–1990 grew more than twice as fast as the rest of East Asia, roughly three times as fast as Latin America and South Asia, and twenty-five times faster than sub-Sahara Africa. These eight economies also significantly outperformed industrial economies and the oil-rich Middle East-North African region.35 At the rate of seven percent annual growth, which is double the normal growth rate of the older industrial economies (including the United States), an economy will double itself in one decade. Pacific Asia phenomenal growth record, spreading from the original eight high performance economies to other nations, prompted a wide range of respectable analysts to pronounce the twenty-first century to be the acific Century.”36 Rosy prognoses like these ought to be reassuring to the region sense of economic security, although, reminiscent of the geopolitical power game, it might ecurity dilemma”37 even inspire fears among many in other regions, typical of a lthough we have no proof of the existence of an economic security dilemma as such.

But when the Asian financial crisis broke out on 2 July 1997, sending all the region once-robust economies (except perhaps China, whose growth rates remained in the seven percent range throughout) into nosedives, none of the countries had illusions about any surety of economic security in this age of globalization.

In a matter of weeks, these economies and their strong currencies witnessed a nasty meltdown. Its severity can be appreciated only in comparison. During the Great Depression of 1929-1932, the asset value of Standard and Poor’s 500 fell by 87 percent. During the Asian financial crisis, the asset value crash ranged from 75 to 85 percent in South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.38 Almost immediately after 2 July 1997, a swarm of sarcastic laments and gloating denunciations greeted the temporary misfortune besetting the Asian tigers. The former The eight are Japan, the our Tigers” (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), China, and the three newly industrializing economies (NIEs) of Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

World Bank, The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy (Washington, D.C.:

International Bank and Reconstruction & Development, 1993), pp. 2ff.

E.g., Steffan Linder, The Pacific Century: Economic and Political Consequences of Asia Pacific Dynamism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986); William McCord, The Dawn of the Pacific Century (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1991); Mark Borthwick, The Pacific Century (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992); World Bank, The East Asian Miracle (1993).

See n. 11 above for an explanation of ecurity dilemma.” optimists and pologists” for the Asian economic miracle were shut up. Instead, all that could be heard was the told you so” refrain from Western detractors, who had apparently had bottled-up contempt for the Asian tigers all along. Among the Western media and commentators was a chorus of voices of despair, even ridicule, but not a single word of sympathy, let alone a coolheaded plea for suspending final judgment until more was known about what had happened. Christopher Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong before its return to China in 1997, could hardly wait to gloat with a petulant and, in a way, self-serving book celebrating hat all the tigers are skinned and stuffed” and heading for the museum.39 Instead of consolation, the Asian countries received ready-made condolences.

Condemnation superseded commiseration and compassion, contrary to the expectations of basic human decency on such occasions of other people sorrows.

Like firefighters, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was called on to help in its function as the lender of last resort. But, unlike firefighters, IMF was in no hurry to fight the fire on the scene. Instead, IMF took the time to point accusing fingers at the architecture of and furniture arrangement in the house.40 Despite IMF initial gloomy forecasts that recovery would take years, if not decades, reports by early 1999 showed encouraging signs of rebound, even among the five worst-hit economies: Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, although the first two were behind the rest on the way to recovery. In a review for the second half of 1999, the Asian Development Bank confirmed these reports. 41 Additionally, after a two-year, country-by-country study on the causes of the financial crisis and the patterns of recovery, a team of 15 economists hailing from ten Asian countries and one economist from the United States also gave its concurring view that s]ince the summer of 1999, all the countries in the region have tended to gradually recover.”42 Quoted in Hsiung, Twenty-First Century World Order, (p. 79).

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