Donald Emmerson comments on the 9th ASEAN summit in Bali

APARC Professor %people1% was interviewed about the 9th ASEAN summit in Bali.

October 12th will be the first anniversary of the Bali blasts which killed a total of 202 people --mostly foreign tourists. And in a move to show regional defiance against the terrorist attack on Indonesia's holiday island, leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations decided last year to hold their annual meeting in Bali (7 to 8 October). Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, which is already reeling from two devastating bomb blasts in less than a year, the other being Jakarta's JW Marriott Hotel bomb blast, is determined to make this years ASEAN summit significant. As current chair of ASEAN, a role which is rotated alphabetically among the ten nations, Indonesia is well aware that the international community and media will be playing close attention to the outcome of this years ASEAN Bali summit. Which is why the Indonesians, building on Singapore's proposal that ASEAN evolves into an Economic Community by the year 2020, have proposed the creation of an ASEAN Security Community. For an assessment of this proposal, I spoke to Professor Donald K. Emmerson, Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Institute for International Studies. "The idea of a security community is an idea that so far as I know has originated not as a sort of deliberate doctrine of the Indonesian government but rather has been circulated in particular by an academic Rizal Sukma who wrote a paper and was invited to give the paper in New York by the Indonesian mission to the United Nations. "And I think its one of those rather serendipitous cases where an idea that has been circulating if you will in the academic world, on a track three basis if I can use that phrase, has been taken over. And it looks as though depending upon what happens at the summit in Bali, it will become a kind of distinctive contribution that Indonesia would make in the period when Indonesia will be running ASEAN, that is have the chairmanship. And so I think the first thing that needs to be said is as we know from past experience every chair of ASEAN by and large you know asks themselves what can we do that is distinctive. How will our chairmanship be remembered? And I think this is at least initially how Indonesia would like its Chairmanship to be remembered." Professor Emmerson, who is also Director of the Southeast Asia Forum at Stanford feels it does not necessarily follow from this that the Indonesian government has a clear and detailed blueprint for exactly what such a security community would entail. "That this is an idea that is still somewhat vague and properly so. After all the summit has not yet convened. We're still in the phase of position papers being circulated. If this is to become an ASEAN idea as opposed to just an Indonesian idea, then it taking ownership of the idea, ASEAN has to make its contribution because obviously there are ten countries involved, not just one, not just Indonesia. And so in a way, I think its unfair for us to ask too much detail from the host of the summit because after all the whole purpose is to socialize this idea within ASEAN and to get contributions from around the region". As to the reasons why this idea has risen to a fairly high position on the Indonesian agenda for ASEAN, Professor Emmerson feels "what we ought to think of is in more general terms how this could represent a meaningful contribution by Indonesia which has traditionally been identified obviously as the largest and by implication most important country in ASEAN, as a country that sets the tone, well this is the tone they're trying to set and I think it is not's surprising that it should not be a terribly detailed proposal at this early stage". There are existing instruments or mechanisms - one is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation which basically serves as a foundation. The renouncement of the threat or use of force. Do you think these would be built upon and serve as a foundation for the ASEAN Security Community? "Well certainly such a use of the treaty would bethoroughly compatible with a broad understanding of what a security community might entail. But it is my impression that this idea is should we say at the same time also inward looking. That is to say if we look at it, what is first obvious is that the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which is of course a much larger body, and it is not limited to South East Asia, it includes a variety of governments. That by implication, there is an idea here that the ASEAN Regional Forum is insufficient. That it alone cannot manage if you will the security problems that exist inside South East Asia. And it is certainly the case that the security agenda of the ARF has tended to be dominated by issues in North East Asia rather than in South East Asia. Concerns over the Korean peninsula. The Chinese of course have traditionally shied away from any multi lateral discussion of the Taiwan question which they consider to be a domestic issue. "But nevetheless the involvement of China in the ARF is of critical importance. And needless to say, if we look at the region leaving aside the issue of terrorism, which has risen obviously with particular force since the Bali bombing and then now most recently with the Marriot bombing in Indonesia. But leaving that aside one would have to say that the real security threat come not from the south but conversely from the north. "And so it is entirely plausible that Indonesian policy makers would take stock of the situation inside South East Asia and say we need a venue which is suitable for managing security inside the region. And obviously that would privilige the ASEAN Summit, the members of ASEAN rather than involving outside powers. Indeed one maybe highly speculative and here I admit I'm being extremely speculative - one might even argue that there is a logic here that says that if ASEAN can begin to organize its own house with regards to security now, then it will not have to cede the power to do so to an outsider. Whether that outsider be the United States, China, Japan or some other power". Right, looking at the summary of the Indonesian recommendations, they're proposing the idea of ASEAN Security Community by 2020. They're hoping that this will build on existing ASEAN principles and cooperation. The Indonesians hope to have an ASEAN Centre for Combating Terrorism, ASEAN Peace Keeping Training Centre, and ASEAN Maritime Surveillance Centre. Are these all feasible in the future you think? "I think they are feasible especially if the deadline is as far off as 2020. I think they are entirely feasible. Lets remember that although the idea of ASEAN being a security community is innovative because the language has not been used. If we go all the way back to the birth of ASEAN, we have to understand that there are inside the origins of ASEAN if you will, the DNA of ASEAN, there are concerns for security. The high council that was to meet to resolve inter-mural disputes among members. "The empirical fact that ASEAN's success in defending Thailand as the front line state against the Vietnamese penetration of Cambodia, which represented a signal victory given the outcome of that struggle in which the Vietnamese finally around 1989 pulled their troops back. So there was a kind of an irony at the beginning of ASEAN although it put forward a face of economic cooperation, in fact its real success was precisely in the security realm. And that's another reason why it seems to entirely feasible that some proposals, not too elaborate perhaps and not too likely to run up against the sensitivities associated with national sovereignty, might well be feasible in the future. And that yes indeed, ASEAN could become a security community. Not fully fledged, not like NATO and certainly not like SEATO which was in any case in retrospect a failure. And also not a Deutschian, you know Karl Deutsch - the American professor who really coined the phrase 'security community ' - not that kind of deep security community. But a security community that has its own techniques and instruments for conflict resolution and for conflict prevention. Including this very controversial issue which we face at the moment as to how to fight terrorism in South East Asia. "And once again I want to emphasize that traditionally Indonesian thinking with regard to the security of South East Asia has been very different for example in comparison let's say to the thinking that we associate with the view of South East Asia that tends to characterize Singaporean policy makers. The Indonesians have been much more inclined as the largest country in South East Asia to look at the region and say we don't need outsiders, we don't need a check and balance as used to be the case during the Cold War. "What we need are institutions that are domestic to the region and by implication therefore which Indonesia could influence, that will be effective in solving our problems among ourselves. I think there is a bit of that behind this proposal. And frankly I'm rather encouraged. I will say this that in so far as this proposal implies that South East Asians would take increased responsibility for their own security, including maritime security. I mean what waters on earth are the most pirate infested. We all know the answer. The answer is waters that are Indonesian or at least that border Indonesia. This is a very serious problem. And so quite apart from the issue of terrorists blowing up buildings in the name of Jihad, there are a range of security issues that South East Asians I think can constructively address. And therefore I'm quite encouraged by this proposal and I hope it will be given serious consideration in Bali."