Much of Asia’s success as a continent can be attributed to the lack of conflict across borders. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations stated that the factors contributing to peace in Asia “are now coming under increasing pressure.” This could essentially threaten the economic miracle that Asia has seen in the past few decades.
Unlike many areas across the world such as Europe or Latin America, Asia has not had a major conflict since the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Now that is notwithstanding certain disputes such as the one in the South China Sea, and Russia and Japan’s post WWII island disputes, but these issues have never escalated into war. Haas stated that this is “partly because no country has wanted to jeopardize economic growth by initiating a conflict.”
In addition, the demographics of Asia contribute to peace. Haas states that “Most Asian countries host relatively homogeneous societies with strong national identities, the chance of civil conflicts erupting and spilling over national borders is relatively low.”
In addition, a strong and deep-rooted U.S. military presence has helped to reduce a need for Asian countries developing big military programs of their own. Haas further stated that the “reinforced status quo discourages armed adventurism.”
There are however a few conflicts that are coming into play as time passes. Haas stated that “As China adopts an increasingly assertive foreign policy — exemplified by its border dispute with India and territorial claims in the South China Sea — other countries are increasingly motivated to boost their own military spending. As that happens, it becomes more likely that a disagreement or incident will escalate into a conflict.”
Another factor is the heated conversation between the U.S. and North Korea. This has led to unrest regarding the two countries. “Just the threat of such a strike could be destabilizing, if it drives concerned U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan to increase their military spending and reconsider their non-nuclear postures,” Haas then stated.
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